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Speeches: Global ICT Capacity Building Symposium #CBS2016

​​ Speech by Mr. Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary

Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology,
06 September2016, Nairobi, Kenya


Our Chief Guest, H.E. Hon. William Samoei Ruto, Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya,
Mr. Houlin Zhao, Secretary General, International Telecommunication Union,
Dr. Fred Matiang'i, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers present,
Mr. Brahima Sanou, Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau,
Mr. Francis Wangusi, Director General, Communications Authority of Kenya,
Distinguished Delegates,
Invited Guests,
Members of the Fourth Estate,
Ladies and gentlemen, 


I am delighted to join you this morning on this occasion of the Global ICT Human Capacity Building Symposium. On behalf of the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, I wish to warmly welcome you all to Kenya and in particular to this very important forum whose purpose is to chart a way forward towards building adequate human and institutional capacity for the ICT sector.  

I wish, at the onset, to thank the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for choosing Nairobi to host this crucial forum. At the same time, I wish to extend a special welcome to all the international delegates who have joined us here in Kenya.  We hope that you shall not only enjoy the forum deliberations, but also spare some time to equally enjoy the tranquility of our beautiful country and the great hospitality of the Kenyan people. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,  

As the ICT industry experiences advanced growth globally, penetration, particularly in Africa, has equally exceeded the initial projections to become a central part of all aspects of our lives, including politics, economic activities and social interactions. The achievement of an information society and knowledge economy is one of the main priorities of the Kenya Government towards the attainment of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and objectives for wealth and employment creation as espoused in Kenya's Vision 2030. ICT continues to impart and enhance efficiency in various facets of the economy, creating new opportunities for employment, service delivery, networking, and education, among many other uses. 

As you are all aware, Kenya is a leader in technology adoption and use, and continues serving as a template for other countries in mobile innovation.  The increase in penetration rate for smart phones continues to open up the huge potential market to app developers and innovators. Mobile money and banking are classic examples of segments that have benefited from the innovations. 

Allow me at this juncture to give you a glimpse of the ICT sector indicators in Kenya. The mobile and Internet penetration currently stands at 89.2%, and 87.2% respectively.  More than 78% of our population today has access to 3G services, which explains the massive use of mobile data/internet services. LTE/4G services are currently undergoing trials in two cities. As a country, we are working towards enhancing broadband penetration.   

Recognising the rapid technological evolutions as well as industry and market trends in the ICT sector, my Ministry is undertaking a review of our National ICT Sector Policy in consultation with stakeholders. The revised ICT Policy is expected to drive the pace of ICT innovations in the country and resonate with the rapid technological advances, changing public needs and evolving global trends. It will nurture the nascent sub-sectors including engineering, hardware and software development, and business solutions. 

The Presidential Digital Talent Program (PDTP) is a flagship project that is a vital component of Kenya's human capital strategies. PDTP is an ICT management trainee program aimed at producing quality ICT leaders in public service. Delivered in partnership with over 20 private sector tech companies, it is now in its 2nd year of operation with 400 ICT Management Trainees, recruited this year and deployed in various national and county government offices countrywide. Last year 100 Management Trainees went through the program, 89 completed and many of them are working in both the public and private sectors. By providing apprenticeships, on-the-job training and mentoring, both the government and the private sector are helping graduates boost their skills, giving them the chance to dream through innovation.

 

The Digital Literacy Program (DLP) is another key initiative that aims to build 21st century skills amongst primary school students through the use of digital technologies in education. In the long term, it is envisioned that we will have a generation of digitally able youth capable of consuming and developing ICT services and products that meet the needs of the industry and government. The DLP rollout has led to infrastructure development in the schools and communities incorporating provision of electricity, broadband and in some cases water. 

While the sector outlook may sound positive and indeed glamorous, I must admit that the ICT skills gap still remains a challenge.  For instance, the high-level management, network and technical jobs in the fast-growing mobile telecommunications sub-sector are still in the hands of expatriates. This trend is not unique to Kenya but also in the region.   

Our technological readiness score as a region is still low and the Smart Africa initiative brings together African Governments, private sector and international organizations to ensure affordable access to broadband and ICTs in general, ushering Africa into the knowledge economy. To quote the chairman of the Smart Africa Board, H.E. President Paul Kagame, "…The creation of Smart Africa is a testimony of our resolve to put in place the right policy and regulatory environment that will encourage partnerships, entrepreneurship, job creation and knowledge sharing Our move towards an ICT and knowledge driven economy together intends to increase Africa's competitiveness in the global economy. ICTs have the ability to level the global playing field, unlock human capital and harness its full potential…" 

Ladies and Gentlemen,  

You will therefore agree with me that training and continuous capacity building is inevitable if we are to maintain the momentum of ICT growth.  This is necessary in order to sustain the level of growth and innovation in this sector.  We admit the need to forge stronger partnerships with technology companies and generally the private sector to narrow if not close the skills gap.   

Today, IT labs, technology camps, software developer groups, and many other IT enabled initiatives are the norm.  These collaborations have the potential to provide the industry with the quantum leap in skills development.  Apart from technology research centres and centres of excellence, private equity and venture capital also play an important role in growing the innovations as we have seen in many emerging economies.  Kenya has benefitted from many of them and will continue to explore further opportunities, as we are still to reach the critical mass of skill we require.   

As I conclude, ladies and gentlemen, I urge you all to take advantage of this forum and have insightful deliberations and exchange of useful experiences.  Let us all focus attention in identifying opportunities for collaboration and best practices for inclusive technologies that shall render the much-needed progress towards the realization of a truly global ICT community.

With those few remarks, I wish to take this opportunity to wish you all fruitful deliberations and a pleasant stay in Nairobi.   

Thank you.