Following a high-profile and successful stint as permanent secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communication, Dr Bitange Ndemo left the role in 2013. HumanIPO spoke to the former permanent secretary about his analysis of the ICT sector in Kenya as it stands now, and the way forward in 2014.
HumanIPO: What were the most positive developments in the ICT sector in Kenya in 2013?
Dr Bitange Ndemo: The finalisation of the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). This will enable virtual identities that would facilitate e-commerce. McKinsey estimates that in the next five years, e-commerce will hit $75 billion in Africa.
The amalgamation of e-government and ICT Board will enable seamless implementation of ICT projects in the country.
What were the most negative developments?
The delay in starting construction at Konza Technology Park. This was going to be Africa’s first technology ecosystem. The techno park will deepen ICTs beyond Mobile apps to software development, gaming and animation as well as content development.
What needs to be focused on in 2014 from a governmental perspective to further the ICT sector in Kenya?
The application of ICTs in all sectors to enhance efficiency. Areas such as healthcare, education and agriculture are key to economic progress if we optimise productivity.
What should companies be focusing on?
Cut cost on purchase of hardware (servers) and shift operations on to the cloud. Leverage on the cloud to utilize software as a service.
What are the tech-based opportunities for students in Kenya this year?
The many problems that we have are actually our greatest opportunities. Students have spent inordinately a large amount of time on mobile payments when there are many other opportunities. There are opportunities in monitoring gadgets especially in transportation where we have had significant problems especially accidents.
What are the biggest tech opportunities for consumers in Kenya this year?
The cost of broadband continue to decline. Consumers must start to leverage on broadband to bring quality education to children. There is free content especially in teaching mathematics that should help students to focus their attention on science technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) which is largely considered the future of our livelihood.
What poses the biggest potential obstacle to ICT development in Kenya this year?
Failure to digitise content especially in government would be a big obstacle to ICT development in Kenya. Failure to enrich Kenya Open Data Initiative would the worse crime in the development of our ICT sector.