Regional partners pursue the protection of critical infrastructure as a key pillar to the integration process
The Connected East Africa Summit commenced on deliberations on how to seal the gaps in ICT integration and shared infrastructure among East African Member states.Speaking during the inaugural East Africa Connected Summit; ICT Ministers from Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and South Sudan hailed the event for providing a platform for networking and learning among member countries.

 “In Kenya ICT is one of the most vibrant sectors with its contribution to the GDP growing year after year.  The sector has the ability to transform lives of those that we serve—our citizens. If we all work together in the region we will be able to achieve our goals of improving the lives of our people,” said Dr. Fred Matiang’i – Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Information Communications and Technology.

Among the main focus areas of the 2015 summit are the Critical Infrastructure Act 2015, local content policy, Enterprise Kenya; and the increase in allocation of funds to ICT projects from less than 3 per cent to 5 per cent with Enterprise Kenya looking at funding 50 start-ups to achieve global standards by the year 2015.

Dr Matiang’i reported that a task force is already working on a new regulation that will offer mitigation measures against vandalism and provide guidelines to better management of infrastructure right from the conception and design stages in the Critical Infrastructure Act, 2015.The bill, the first in Africa is expected to be tabled in parliament in the next 3 months.

Among the key players in its’ development include; the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Ministry of ICT, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Engineers Board of Kenya, Telecommunication Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK) and Safaricom.

“Kenya and East Africa loses substantial resources each year through the destruction of key infrastructure. The resources used to carry out these repairs can be used for the provision of other essential services. It is critical that partners coordinate to protect these facilities that are critical to a better economy and well being,” added Dr.  Matiang’i.

An important focus of this year’s event is the growth of local ICT SME’s for job creation and growth of regional income.
“We recently created Enterprise Kenya to drive engagement with relevant government agencies and push for local content and businesses. Through the entity we plan to catalyze start up businesses to the global arena,” said Victor Kyalo, CEO, ICT Authority.

Aligning to this push, Microsoft launched an online hub that will connect SMEs’ across Africa by aggregating premium offers and relevant online services.

“Biz4Afrika is an Africa-wide network of SMEs designed to enable a sustainable and connected community of entrepreneurs which will impact on job creation, global competitiveness and wealth creation. The online hub aims to meet the needs of every start-up or SME whether in start, growth and acceleration phases,” said Kunle Awosika, Microsoft Kenya Country Manager.

According to Microsoft, the project was informed by a research that showed that tech-savvy SMEs create twice as many new jobs and grow revenues 15% faster than SMEs using little technology. Microsoft is this year’s summit title sponsor.
Major areas of collaboration among East Africa member states so far have included; One Area Network, Digital Migration, Broadband Strategies, Northern Corridor, Integrated terrestrial communication network across the region (fiber network) and the Integration of National Backbones for harmonized ‘smart plans’. Others are East Africa Broadband ICT Infrastructure Network (EAC-BIN), as well as EAC.

Medicine Registration Harmonization project. On policies, member states are working on EAC legal framework for Cyber laws and ICT policy & Harmonization framework.

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