" In early 2000, Kenya had 1 mobile service provider and less than 50,000 subscribers. Today this sub-sector has 4 mobile service providers with over 30million customers amongst them representing a penetration rate of 75%;( ** CCK Report
" In 2007, the country had less than 3000 Km's of terrestrial fibre optic cables in the ground, whereas today we can be proud to say that figure is now well over 12,000 Km's, including fibre connectivity to all major towns in
" At the time of liberalisation, Kenya had one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world, today close to 16.4 million Kenyans or 41%** of the population has some form of access to the internet (** CCK Report
Your Excellency, it is obvious, even to the most casual of observers that we as a country have made immense strides towards getting the basics of our ICT infrastructure in order . For this I salute you and your Government, because it is through collaboration and private public partnerships that a lot of this work has been done.
A great illustration of the PPP engagement is the TEAMs cable, which incidentally I sit as Chairman of the Board. This project cost US 130$ million to implement and the funding was put together by both Government and private sector players with the project being delivered ahead of schedule and within budget. Its success has triggered the internet revolution that has taken Kenya by storm, it has set the stage for the next phase of development. That of building a knowledge-based economy through ICT.
It would be a fatal oversight on my part if I did not emphasise my view that our national objective to be a global ICT hub and our commitment to building a strong knowledge based economy are mutually inclusive activities. We can only attract strong foreign and local investment in to ICT if we can demonstrate the aptitude and political will to adopt its usage in all facets of our national development. By this I mean:-
" We must use ICT as the primary tool to promote accountability and efficiency in government, through deployment of e-government solutions that give the mwananchi access to government services wherever they are Kenya;
" We must reenergize our efforts to use ICT to widen and safeguard the hard earned democratic space that we have all become accustomed to by using technology to encourage citizen participation in leadership decisions;
" We must use ICT to empower our children to be globally competitive against their peers in the first world, by exposing them at the earliest opportunity to ICT tools that allow them to sharpen their young minds;
" We must create a knowledgeable and innovative workforce that relies less on brawn and more on brain so as to leverage ICT to solve some of the social problems that we face such as security and access to basic health care.
In so doing, we make ICT a means to an ends and an integral part of our development strategy.
Your Excellency, The point I am trying to make is that by focusing on building a knowledge based economy, global ICT players will stop seeing Kenya as a sales destination with whom they will have a purely transactional relationship. Instead they will seek to partner with our local entrepreneurs, they will seek to employ our talented youth, they will want to take advantage of your investment policies to set up shop locally and most importantly they will retain a significant portion of the wealth they generate in
Already, the mere mention of The Konza Technopolis getting the world excited for exactly the reasons mentioned above. I am always pleasantly surprised by the number of international companies knocking on my door as they announce their local presence. The entry of companies such as Google, IBM ,
Your Excellency, as a representative of the private sector it is comforting to note that the Government through the recently launched National Broadband Strategy has in effect set out a very clear intention to transform Kenya in to a knowledge based society through the aggressive expansion of a high capacity broadband network. Diligent implementation of this strategy will be instrumental in translating our national aspirations in to tangible results.
In closing, I must confess that I know I was asked to speak specifically about Kenya's future as a regional ICT Hub, while in my speech I clearly allowed myself to digress as I made repeated references to being a global as opposed to a regional ICT hub. The only reason for this is because I know from my few years here that Kenyans do not aim low.
(The Safaricom CEO gave this speech at a conference organised by the IMF on Kenya's economic successes, prospects and challenges).
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