Bomet digital forum seeks to tap youth talent

Bomet Digital Conference

From left: ICT Principal Secretary John Tanui, his Parliamentary Affairs counterpart Aurelia Rono, Bomet Governor Hillary Bartock and NMG Chief Commercial Officer Kenneth Oyolla during the Bomet Digital Conference on Thursday, September 7. 

Photo credit: Boniface Mwangi | Nation Media Group

The two-day Bomet Digital Conference, which is sponsored by the Nation Media Group (NMG), kicked off yesterday amid calls to make it an annual event.

The event brings together leading Information Communication Technology (ICT) experts, entrepreneurs and policy-makers.

Information, Communication and the Digital Economy Principal Secretary John Tanui emphasised the need to tap youths’ talents and put them into good use.

“We will make this digital conference an annual event. It is important that we build on what we have started,” Mr Tanui said while opening the conference at the Bomet Green Stadium.

Mr Tanui said the government has started laying 100,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables to boost internet connectivity.

“We want to brand Kenya as one of the top centres for outsourcing globally, as we have the talent and the infrastructure in place. We will compete with India and Philippines, which are leaders in this sector," Mr Tanui added.

"We are rolling out 25,000 free Wifi hotspots countrywide to enable youths in every civic ward to link with the world and ply their trade" Mr Tanui stated.

The PS said ICT contributes 15 per cent to the global GDP. Kenya is at seven per cent while China is approaching 50 percent.

Ms Aurelia Rono, the Principal Secretary for Parliamentary Affairs, said young people in Bomet are tech savvy and there is a need to harness these skills.

"We need to tap on the skills of the youth and use it positively for ICT development. They have made Mulot a focus regionally for all the wrong reasons, but it is now time to turn the tide," Ms Rono said. She added that digital content creators and musicians in the South Rift region should be trained on how to monetise their work.

Bomet County is known as the home of secular music in the Rift Valley region, but the artists are wallowing in poverty.

Governor Hillary Barchok said plans to construct a software hub in Mulot was at an advanced stages with land having been secured.

"We have secured 50 acres of land which we are in the process of transferring to the State Department of ICT to enable the project to take off," Prof Barchok said.

He added:"The story on Mulot about cybercrime has made this conference happen and it has become clear that there are talents among the youth that need to be harnessed."

"We thank the Nation Media Group for making this conference happen so as to enable the youth to sharpen their skills and for the players in the industry to engage on latest development and emerging trends," he said.

Mr Keneth Oyola, NMG's Chief Commercial Officer, said there was need for the youth to upgrade their digital skills and drive the economic transformation of the country.

"It is encouraging that half of those who are taking part in the hackathon [an event in which a large number of people meet to take part in collaborative computer programming] competition are women,” Mr Oyolla said.