Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology in conjunction with Information, Communication and Technology Authority (ICTA) held its first ever innovation forum on March 2-3, 2015 at Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC), Nairobi. The theme of the forum ‘Mind the gap, Close the gap’, aimed at bringing together innovators together from across the region to showcase their products and services and network.
The forum attended by investors and government officials, engaged in discussions to explore the needs of the innovation environment. It also sought to come up with ways or solutions to address challenges hindering market growth. There was a good representation of private sector representatives to discuss on innovation and sustainable entrepreneurship.
Some of the topics discussed at the forum included: Building IT Kenya, Buy IT Kenya, Strategic Procurement: Government Procurement and Market Access. This discussion looked at interventions required to build brand Kenya from a corporate & government level.
Speaking at the forum, President Kenyatta said “Innovation is the cornerstone of every transformation and visionary development strategy. Innovation is the catalyst of civilized evolution. The entire history of socioeconomic revolutions rests on inventions and strategies borne of innovative minds. The Digital Revolution currently underway throughout the world is the single most transformative, large-scale and multidisciplinary force of change ever witnessed by humanity. It is powered solely by bold innovation in the ICT sector.”
“The ICT revolution found us ready and able to run with the world’s fastest innovators and entrepreneurs in the sector. This has seen us become a leader in ICT entrepreneurship and innovation. The Silicon Savannah is a reality confirmed by transformative innovations conceived in the minds of Kenyans and implemented by Kenyan firms. When it comes to ICT, Kenya requires no introduction to the world. When it comes to innovation, we count among the leaders,” he confirmed.
The President challenged the ICT Authority and the government to take on board locally-developed solutions in efforts to promote the idea of Building IT Kenya and Buy IT Kenya, encourage the youth to invent more and grow the ICT sector.
Dr. Fred Matiang’i, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of ICT said that the forum was a great platform for collaboration with government and the private sector. He also pointed out that the Government of Kenya is very keen to supporting the ICT sector hence need for partnership with private sector. Dr. Matiang’i added that in partnership with private sector, the Government had established enterprise Kenya foundation and called upon the public to contribute to this action point. The Ministry of ICT has also developed a local content policy to support ICT innovation.
“We intend to add this forum to our ICT calendar. In the last two years, Kenya has made a mark in the world as an ICT leader and this phenomenal revolution has positioned Kenya as a place for innovation investment,” remarked Eng. Victor Kyalo, CEO, ICT Authority. “We believe as we work across the dream of achieving the Silicon Savannah, we will be able to achieve this. Our business in this forum was identifying the gaps and coming up with a solution to close the gap so that we can achieve our Silicon Savannah dream, he asserted.
Also speaking at the forum was Michael Macharia, Kenya ICT Outsourcing Society Chair and CEO Seven Seas Technologies, who questioned, is Silicon Savannah just a state of mind or a place? “We are in a position where as a country we can be seen as champions in innovations. Therefore, IT needs to be recognized as a major economic pillar in the country. We need to look at how we can create innovations and still create value out of them and how we can still sell the innovations outside Kenya. “
ICT Master Plan
ICT Master Plan launched in 2014, is an integral component in achieving Kenya’s Vision2030. The Master Plan sets pace for progression of the country in ICT for the next five years. The Master Plan also aims at creating an enabling policy, legal and regulatory environment, provide e-government services that are simple to use and convenient for citizens and businesses.
It aims at stimulating the setup and growth of ICT related businesses to enhance employment creation, enable and scale up ICT innovation and develop a dynamic and robust ICT sector that will enhance socio-economic growth. The ICT Master plan projects that the sector can comfortably generate more than 180,000 jobs between now and 2017. It is also expected to contribute at least 8% of our Gross Domestic Product in the same period.
Finally, Kenya’s ICT sector has transformed this country into one of the world’s smartest societies. It has made life easier, work more productive and enterprise more efficient and profitable for everyone.