Nations that embrace, invest in and leverage technology better placed to achieve SDGs – CA DG David Mugonyi




Nations that embrace, invest in and leverage technology despite the fast pace at which it is evelving, are better positioned to achieve growth, prosperity and realize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This was the key message from David Mugonyi, the Director General, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), in his address to delegates attending the East Africa Communication Organization (EACO) 29th Annual Assemblies and Extra-Ordinary Congress in Nairobi.

Speaking during the opening session of the forum, running from June 24 – 28, 2024 at Safari Park Hotel, Mugonyi noted that: “ICT is the most transformational lever of progress for individuals, nations and regions in existence. Nations that embrace, invest in and leverage technology despite the breakneck speed at which it is moving, are better positioned to achieve growth, prosperity and realize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

(TOP: David Mugonyi, the Director General, Communications Authority of Kenya).

The forum is a gathering of a diverse range of ICT stakeholders from different organizations, namely: operators, regulators, government, academia, as well as regional and international bodies. The delegates dissect and deliberate on issues affecting the ICT sector in the region and to chart a way forward for the growth and development of this sector across our community.

This year’s meeting is being held under the theme: “Promoting Digital Transformation in the EAC Region.”

“For us this quest is at the heart of our regulatory approach and as a result we lay great emphasis on expanding, enabling innovation and stakeholder engagements and partnerships. This pursuit of digital transformation is common to all of us across the EAC, consequently our experiences, milestones and challenges are shared points of learning,” noted Mugonyi.

Kenya’s ICT story, stated the CA boss, is a tale of progressive regulation, constant innovation and consistent growth.

As of March, 2024, Kenya had a 132.1 percent mobile penetration, 51.2 million internet subscribers and 38.6 million mobile money users. The smartphone penetration rate currently stands at 67%.

As the industry regulator, the Authority strives to keep average access charges for services such as mobile voice, data and Internet affordable for all. CA is also committed to ensuring 100 per cent 3G and 4G population coverage, as 4G technology contributes up to 51.5 per cent of total mobile data subscriptions.

“The deployment of 5G technology will present new opportunities for all sectors of our economy. The use cases for this technology in Kenya are immense and we believe it will make a significant contribution to allowing us to participate in 4th Industrial Revolution,” he noted.

To improve and expand coverage to under-served areas of the country, CA, through the Universal Service Fund, is supporting deployment of ICT services in unserved and underserved areas of Kenya, with over 750,000 people connected in the last five years. In addition to this, a majority of government services are moving online and the Authority is charged with securing Kenya’s cyberspace, enhancing cybersecurity readiness and scaling up our threat detection and prevention capabilities.

To promote innovation, said Mugonyi, CA has implemented a Regulatory Sandbox to allow for the controlled use of emerging innovations and testing of new ideas before deployment to the market.

“As we increase access to ICT services, the importation of second-hand electrical and electronic devices like computers, mobile phones and TV sets, have brought the challenge of e-waste to our doorstep. Working together with relevant Government agencies within the National E-waste Management Strategy, we are making strides to contain this problem,” he said.

“We have made it a requirement for licensees with Network Facilities Provider’s licenses to ensure that their telecommunication installations do not become a health, environmental or safety hazard.”

Still on e-waste management, the regulator is exploring ways to encourage ICT players to implement customer take-back programs to improve e-waste collection and management.

At the regional level, CA is a member of the technical working group responsible for e-waste management and green ICTs within the East African Communications Organization (EACO). Internationally, the Authority participates in e-waste management initiatives spearheaded by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and remains committed to e-waste management principles on the circular economy.

“In each of the above highlights, there lies opportunity for improvement through discourse and the exchange ideas and knowledge at this conference. This is an opportunity to build our shared capacity to innovate solutions to address existing and emerging issues in the ICT landscape,” he said.

On AI adaption, its power, potential and challenges, Mugonyi noted that such forum should act as avenues to mould the outlines of a shared understanding of such new technologies and harness their power more effectively for the benefit of the people of East Africa.

EACO Assemblies namely: Assembly of Regulators, Assembly of Postal Operators, Assembly of Telecommunications operators and Assembly of Broadcasting Operators, meet annually. The Congress, which is the highest decision-making organ of EACO, meets every two years.

However, an Extra-ordinary EACO Congress is scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the Annual Assemblies in Nairobi. The Extra-ordinary Congress will be dedicated to amendment of the EACO Constitution. The meetings of Assemblies will include two workshops that will discuss current technologies and key issues in the Postal and Communication sectors.

The event will create unique opportunities for EACO members and stakeholders to interact, network, exchange and share experiencesDelegates to the Assemblies will comprise of policy makers, legislators, regulators and operators/service providers in the ICT sector, the academia and consumers of ICT services in the East African region.

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