Table sector policy, local ICTs told

The government has thrown the ball to the local ICT investors to table a sector policy proposal on how to address issues limiting their competitiveness in tender wars with multinational firms.

Tuesday March 13 2012

By CHARLES WOKABI [email protected] and LILIAN NDUATI [email protected]

The government has thrown the ball to the local ICT investors to table a sector policy proposal on how to address issues limiting their competitiveness in tender wars with multinational firms.

Speaking at a stakeholders’ consultative forum dubbed #140Friday at the Nailab last week, Information and Communication permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said the government is ready to engage the private industry in deliberations on how to assist the sector.

“The government has been with you, listened and delivered on some of the areas that you have requested. We should now move from just a baraza to a serious engagement,” said Mr Ndemo.

The forum was formed in response to a heated debate on social networks following Smart Company’s cover story last week on how international firms are beating local firms fair and square in big tenders.

At the meeting attended by the technology community from both local and international firms and State officials, participants expressed the need for co-operation between the government and the private sector in developing local firms’ capacity to facilitate them bid for large-scale tenders in Kenya and abroad.

“We need to start thinking about partnerships among local firms to pool their resources to gain the capacity to handle large-scale projects,” said Mr Ndemo.

A team formed to draft the policy proposals will be chaired by the Sevenseas Techologies Group chief executive, Mr Michael Macharia. The firm will also fund the initiative.

Among the major issues raised by the local tech community are Kenya’s procurement laws, tax incentives and rebates, development of a contractor ranking system, and skills and capacity development.

Kenya ICT Board chief executive Paul Kukubo asked the industry to form an industry advocacy body which can speak on its behalf and conduct lobbies even at the government level.

“The sector requires a lobby group to advance its concerns as an organised group for better impact, as is the case in other businesses,” said Mr Kukubo.

He challenged local technology firms to partner with the government in Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to handle government-to-government contracts across Africa.

“We need to partner as government and private sector, and as business to business. The tender to provide the Treasury with a financial system was won by a local firm that partnered with an Indian firm to build the system,” he said.

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