World Bank says Kenya's ICT sector a model for East Africa

Kenya's Information, Communication Technology sector is a model for the rest of east Africa, a World Bank official has said.
   World Bank Kenya Lead Economists Wolfgang Fengler said in Nairobi that local innovations have placed Kenya on the world map.


   "The rest of east Africa can draw lessons and experiences on how to leverage the ICT sector to increase productivity of all other sectors," Fengler said on the sidelines of the launch of the World Bank's Kenya Economic Update.
   "For the first time, Kenya is not just an importer of innovation but also an exporter," he said, "Kenya's mobile money transfer system dubbed M-Pesa has been replicated internationally," he said.
   Fengler's remarks come as the East African nation plans to set up an ultra-modern Government Data Centre at the Konza Techno City as part of its Vision 2030 implementation drive.
   Kenya’s Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat Director General Mugo Kibati said the government was committed to taking up space at the new Konza Techno City to put up a new Tier 4 Government Data Centre, as part of the Vision 2030 implementation process.
   "Charity begins at home and even as we collaborate to attract international investors to Konza, I am glad that the government has accepted the proposal to take a lead and put up an advanced Data Centre at Konza Techno City in coming years," Kibati said recently.
   Konza City is located about 60 kilometers south of the capital Nairobi, along the road from the coastal city of Mombasa. It will host information communication technology companies and will act as an ICT hub for the eastern and central Africa region.
   The city is also planned to enable foreign companies outsource ICT services from Kenya including Business Process Outsourcing and software development among other services. It will also act as an incubator of ICT start-ups.
   A number of the world leading ICT firms have already set up innovation centers in Kenya. Fengler said that Kenya has achieved extraordinary success in ICT sector.
   "Since 2005, Kenya has witnessed a telecommunication revolution as household phone ownership rate has increased by over 30 annually," he said.
   The economist said that by 2011, over 80 cent of Kenya adults owned their own phone. "This has been made possibility by availability of cheap mobile handsets," he said.
   According the Kenya Economic Update, the sector experienced the lowest growth of any industry in 2012. The World Bank said that mobile money transfer has enabled financial inclusion even to the poor.
   At Konza Techno City, the government will be joining a pool of local and international firms, which have expressed an interest to invest in the new Smart City such as Google, Samsung, Huawei, Craft Silicon and Safaricom Limited.
   Other potential investors include Telemax Technology Corporation from Taiwan, Wananchi Group, Research in Motion, Multimedia University, University of Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Toyota, Nairobi Hospital and Shapoorji Pallonji Group from India.
   "Residents are now able to receive money from relatives and friends through a convenient way," he said. World Bank Economist John Randa said that prudent government regulations have spurred the growth of the ICT sector in Kenya.
   "The liberalization of the sector has enabled encouraged the entrepreneurial spirit," he said. He added that Kenya's neighbors, which have posted high economic growth over the past decade, can learn from Kenya's ICT industry.
   He noted that the government's decision to post online, public data has also helped the industry's growth. "Developers are able to use the information to develop innovative applications to solve daily problems," he said.
   According to Randa, Kenya's education system has also produced a highly skilled labor force required to drive innovations. (Xinhua)

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