19 ICT projects earmarked to fast-track SME growth

Joe Mucheru

Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru during the the KPC Fibre Optic Cable launch at the Nairobi Serena Hotel on April 7, 2022.

Photo credit: Diana Ngila | Nation Media Group

Kenya has identified 19 flagship projects for implementation under a dream digital transformation programme aimed at spurring local manufacturing and growth of small and medium entreprises.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said the newly launched National Digital Master Plan will guide the country on ICT deployments and investments in a bid to boost economy through technology. Key in the plan is proposed deployment of 100,000km of fibre optic infrastructure in 40,000 schools and other learning institutions, 20,000 government institutions and 13,000 health facilities.

Plans are also underway to set up 25,000 hotspots to support the youth and innovators and the establishment of 1,450 wards digital innovation hubs. The IT plan also seeks to accelerate digitisation of at least five billion government records at the county and national levels. To accelerate the growth of e-commerce initiatives, it proposes the implementation of the National Physical Addressing System and the National Spatial Data Infrastructure to promote the growth of e-commerce and private enterprise.

Among other major plans, the ministry will come up with two software firms and two factories to service Kenya and neighbouring countries. This will see at least 10,000 software engineers hired in a move to spur manufacturing and growth of SMEs.

To position the country as a regional ICT hub, the master plan proposes the establishment of a regional ICT Smart hub and a reSgional submarine cables maintenance depot. It also proposes an electronic waste management programme to give a strategic focus on e-waste production, handling, disposal and challenges.

It has also proposed the implementation of data protection laws to promote cloud services and data management. The government also plans to promote digital literacy capacity building for at least 20 million citizens and 200,000 public servants.

To promote local innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses, the master plan proposes harmonisation of legislation to enable the growth of ICT businesses, in addition to hosting an annual international ICT Expo for entrepreneurs to showcase products.

Mr Mucheru said all these plans were developed after consultations with stakeholders in the public and private sectors from the region and across the country.

ICT Principal Secretary Jerome Ochieng said the ICT sector is important in promoting the socioeconomic status of the country.

Communications Authority of Kenya Director General Ezra Chiloba termed it important for the government to ensure accessibility, availability and affordability of technology for the plans to be achieved.