Kenya in 24-member alliance of African states keen to create single digital market




President Uhuru Kenyatta recently launched Kenya’s Digital Economy Blueprint, a framework to improve Kenya’s and Africa’s ability to leapfrog economic growth, at the Transform Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

The blueprint is part of Kenya’s contribution to the Smart Africa Alliance, the initiative that is working to digitize the economies and trade of 24 countries across the continent.

(TOP: Kenya’s Digital Economy Blueprint, part of Kenya’s contribution to the 24-member Smart Africa Alliance).

The Smart Africa Alliance aims to leverage on technology to create a single digital market in a region that enjoys a population of over 600 million people. The 24-member states are expected to adopt the Digital Economy blueprint and develop their respective country strategies.

“It is our hope and wish that all the member states shall peruse this Blueprint and find value in adapting it within their own ecosystems to realize the potential of digital transformation that will leapfrog our economies to prosperous heights,” President Kenyatta said during the launch of the blueprint in Kigali mid last month.

The Digital Economy is hinged on five key pillars for the growth of a digital economy. These are: Digital Government; Digital Business; Infrastructure; Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship and Digital Skills and Values. The Blueprint also highlights the cross cutting issues that need to be considered for the success of a digital economy.

The document sets out the opportunities and challenges in maximizing the benefits on offer. It also highlights the significant work already happening across Government, private sector, civil society, businesses, academia among others and identifies further action required to ensure all Kenyan citizens and residents can thrive in a global digital economy.

“We will ensure that no-one is left behind, and for that we must work together. The Government will continue to engage with all Kenyans to ensure that we are forward looking but also flexible and responsive as new opportunities and challenges arise,” noted Joe Mucheru, the CS for ICT.

The digital economy is expected to connect citizens to the world, goods, services and expertise that will be accessible across borders, opening up markets and catapulting Kenya to join 1st world markets where citizens benefit from direct access to global markets.

According to the blueprint, one way of propelling the digital economy in the region is to increase connectivity across the region especially for the the rural and urban poor to digital financial and government services, markets and information. This is expected to catalyze a vibrant digital entrepreneurship and enhance digital literacy and skills.

The Heads of State from the 24 countries have already made a strong commitment to provide leadership in the implementation of SMART country programs and to involve development partners and the private sector in the digital connectivity endeavour.

Locally, the government through Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) targets to close voice and basic data services in 202 sub-locations across 13 counties and link 800 public secondary schools to the fast Internet. Currently, the Authority is implementing voice infrastructure and the Education Broadband connectivity projects across the country.

Kenya boosts of 49.5 million mobile subscribers translating to 106 per cent mobile penetration, 31.6 million mobile money subscribers, 45.7 million Internet users and 21.9 million broadband users. The country has an 86 per cent Digital TV Terrestrial coverage by population.

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