Plan to turn Mulot from cybercrime gathers pace

A temporary ICT lab at Mulot sunset in Bomet county where the government is constructing a software development factory,  in East Africa in this photo taken on July, 29, 2022

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

A plan to turn Mulot, which straddles Bomet and Narok, from a cybercrime hub to Kenya’s Silicon Valley is in high gear, with the government seeking to secure 50 acres to set up a software factory.

The factory, to be established in Bomet East Constituency, will be funded by the national government, and will be under the Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT).

The government is keen on turning Mulot from a hub for youthful criminals involved in a complex web of mobile money fraud to a regional ICT software centre.

President William Ruto directed the Bomet County government in January this year to move with speed and secure land for the setting up of the facility that would create employment opportunities for the youth and turn around the economy of the area.

Mulot

The main road leading into Mulot, Bomet County on November 2, 2022.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

“In the shortest time possible, I want you to secure land and report back within two months on the progress made so we can move with speed and set up the ICT centre and turn the area into a software development hub in the region,” Dr Ruto said. “The youth involved in the crime have to drop the act and use their IT talents positively.”

A groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the facility was done in July last year by the former ICT Authority chairman Fredrick Owino on behalf of the ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru.

Governor Hillary Barchok said his administration and the national government had engaged members of the local community who had agreed to give out their land for the construction of the facility.

“We have secured 50 acres for construction of the factory as directed by the President in what will turn around the infrastructure development in the region with the planned setting up of a software development factory,” Prof Barchok said on Thursday.

Mulot, infamous cybercrime hub seeks way out

He added: “We are grateful to the national government for identifying Bomet as an ICT hub away from Nairobi in what signifies a clear policy shift to focus on development in counties.”

This comes on the backdrop of a planned two-day digital conference in Bomet sponsored by the Nation Media Group. The conference, to be held between September 7 and 8, will bring together ICT experts, industry leaders and business enterprises.

NMG General Manager, Commercial, James Sogoti said the conference, organised in partnership with the Bomet County government, is meant to promote talents among the youth, enterprise and industry development.

Mulot

A section of shops at Mulot Central trading centre which has the highest concentration of mobile phone money transfer fraudsters. 

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

The company has for the last three years sponsored similar conferences to discuss ideas, innovations, and perspectives in ICT.

“We expect to link Mulot software factory to international platforms so that the skills and capabilities of youths in the region can positively be used to drive development and solve the myriad of challenges as ICT becomes an integral part of daily transactions,” Prof Barchok said.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot has said the government should transform Mulot into an ICT hub and help it shed its dubious distinction as the home of cybercriminals in the region.

“This region has youths who are IT savvy but for lack of jobs, they have turned to cybercrime. There is a need to tap their talents and put it into good use,” Mr Cheruiyot said. “We are urging the government to channel at least Sh1 billion to construct the ICT facility in Mulot to turn around the economy and create employment opportunities.”

Ms Magdalene Chepkemoi, an Eldoret-based software engineer who hails from Mulot, said that professionals in the sector who come from the area were wrongly carrying the burden of cybercrime.

“When we introduce ourselves as coming from Mulot, people cheekily say it is time for them to switch off their phones ... It is a really bad story that this area needs to shed,” she said.