Those who’ve followed the annual Connected Kenya Summit – now renamed Connected Summit to reflect its regional focus – must have noticed that the event which has always been held in March in Kenya’s coast since 2009 is yet to be held this year.
This is because the annual event, which is marking its tenth-year anniversary this year, is to be held in Nairobi this time, away from its traditional venue(s) in Kenya’s coast.
(TOP: Robert Mugo, then acting CEO, Kenya ICT Authority, gives his speech at the 2017 Connected Summit. Photo: YouTube).
A message posted on the Kenya ICT Authority (ICT-A) ) website, the organiser and host of the event, states thus: “The annual Connected Kenya Summit, the only platform that brings over 500 ICT thought leaders and experts under one roof will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. This year’s forum will take place in Nairobi with over 1000 delegates, local and international, expected to attend.”
“This year’s edition will not only be bigger but the greatest meeting of ICT minds ever in the East African region who will take part in three days of intensive engagements on ICT support for the Big four agenda, recently outlined by HE President Uhuru Kenyatta. In addition, the Summit’s thematic tracks will include: Manufacturing, food security, Universal healthcare and affordable housing. There will also be conversations around emerging technologies such as Blockchain, Internet of Things, big data and Artificial Intelligence, among others,” adds the post on the ICT-A website.
The tenth edition of the Connected Summit, whose dates are yet to be set, will be held under the theme: “Building for prosperity”. During the event, normally held for two days, insightful discussions are expected to take place that will shape how the industry engages together and provide solutions on the use of ICT to attain the Jubilee government’s Big Four agenda while also providing an opportunity for networking for government representatives, students, investors and generally give life to the events’ theme.
Since its inception, the event has had various themes guiding and acting as the focus of the discussions. The inaugural theme in 2009, for example, were “Great minds come together”. In 2010 the theme was “Shared services to drive down cost to citizen”; 2011’s was “Innovating for the citizen” while in 2012, delegates deliberated under the theme of “Knowledge & beyond” before moving to “County Citizen Served‘ in 2013. In 2014, the theme was “Breaking the barriers” and in 2015, it was “Strength in our networks”. In 2016, the overall theme was “Bridging the service gap” while last year, the participants were guided by “Shaping the future” as the overall them of the discussions.
Even before the event dates are set and announced, the objectives of the Connected Summit 2018 have already been spelt out. These include: to review the progress and achievements in the sector in the last decade; share knowledge, case studies, best practice and lessons learnt based on these experiences; develop and recommend policy, regulatory and operational interventions where necessary; charter a future Kenya of economic prosperity using ICTs based on review of achievements and lessons learnt in both public and private sector; and provide a platform for meaningful networking that will result in fruitful relationships that contribute to economic development.
While there are those who have come to view the event as more of a talking shop where delegates congregate, meet industry peers and negotiate procurement deals while enjoying the sandy Coastal beaches while spending the inflated per-diems paid by their employers and sponsors, others see it differently.
For instance, the ICT-A, while highlighting the projects, initiatives and successes of past Connected Summits states: “The past Connected Summits have seen the birth of key public service innovations namely: Huduma, e- citizen, Digital Literacy Program as well as the National ICT Master Plan. It is therefore anticipated that this year’s forum will add to this bucket of innovations.”
“Specifically, under the big four, it is expected that the following will be realized :(a) increased number of locally assembled devices at the JKUAT & Moi university assembly plants, which have both rolled out the over 200,000 digital learning devices distributed to learners in all corners of the country under the Digital Literacy Program;(b) utilization of the NOFBI infrastructure to enable health institutions, countrywide, to share data and create healthcare management systems and so improve efficient institutions (c) Using ICTs to enable farmers get value for their produce through tracking of their products right from harvesting to the payment and so cut off brokers and middle men who eat into their profit margins.”
A key feature of the event has been the Connected ICT Innovation Awards which celebrate Kenyan entrepreneurs that have launched new ICT products and services. The inaugural awards were first held in 2011 at that year’s Connected Kenya Summit and has since recognized more than 45 new ICT products and solutions.
The awards are designed to highlight innovation that meets Kenya’s blueprint vision to build a vibrant middle income economy by the year 2030. Applicants submit proof of their innovation in one of following 13 categories, namely: Agriculture; Education and Training; Health Care Delivery; Water and Sanitation; Environment; Housing and Urbanization; Gender, Youth and Vulnerable groups; Wholesale and Retail Trade; Manufacturing; Tourism; Social Equity; Business Process Outsourcing/Offshoring and Financial Services.