Local ICT companies were the biggest winners at this year’s Connected Kenya Summit with the announcement that the government is setting up a Sh2 billion equity fund to offer business and legal advisory and intellectual property services to entrepreneurs.
The fund will be managed by Enterprise Kenya with the government expected to contribute Sh1 billion to the kitty with the private sector and other partners matching the government’s contribution.
The equity fund is aimed at supporting the local ICT innovations. Other initiatives under Enterprise Kenya includes helping the local start-ups to navigate the tight government procurement process and also work with educational institutions to nurture talent.
ICT and Innovation Principal Secretary Victor Kyalo said that the government hopes to extend business advisory services to entrepreneurs in the form of facilities, investment and general management services.
“We are very excited and are sure that it will give our startups a much needed hand in their transition to medium and large businesses. At the moment, there are a few tech companies that are selling software internationally,” Mr Kyalo said.
“With Enterprise Kenya, we are sure that we will push up the number of multinationals that are of Kenyan origin to the hundreds if not thousands.”
The announcement was made at this year’s Connected Kenya Event at Kwale County that brought over 600 participants, drawn from government and entrepreneurs.
The Connected Summit is the brainchild of the ICT Authority in consultation with ICT industry players.
The summit, which was first held in 2009, aims at establishing a platform for collaboration, capacity building and knowledge sharing between government and the ICT sector with a view of linking and hastening implementation of government IT projects to world-class standards.
This year’s event identified gaps that may hinder the growth of the ICT business sector, shared knowledge, best practice and lessons learnt based on experience in implementing ICT projects.
The key highlight of the event was the unveiling of the teacher and pupils devices for the Digital Literacy Program (DLP) formerly known as the laptops project.
The teacher device is in the form of a laptop while the learner device is in the form of a tablet.
Robert Mugo the acting ICT Authority CEO said in order to increase the availability of services especially to the unserved and underserved areas, more action needs to be taken to ensure infrastructure sharing whether it be for mobile towers or fibre cable ducts.
At the meeting it was noted that there is need to review penalties for quality of service violations in order to challenges of poor quality. Specifically it was proposed that dropped calls should be free.
Other recommendations included need to create more mentorship and support opportunities for women in ICT.
Start-ups seeking funding were advised to first make themselves more attractive to investors by having a clear and compelling value creation model.
The meeting also recommended the need to develop and implement laws and guidelines to guide capture, storage and use of citizen data.
Some of today’s leading government projects with links to past Connected Kenya events include, Kenya Open Data Initiative, Huduma citizen’s portal and the development of a National Information Security Policy.
ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said that the government has recognised the critical role of information technology in delivering services and has outlined adoption plans in the National ICT Masterplan 2017 and the Broadband Strategy.
“In the recent past, the government has made some moves that are geared at shop service centre for Kenyan citizens. These include government programme to successfully promote services such e-citizen, which are using ICT to bring services to the doorsteps of every ordinary Kenyan,” Mr Mucheru said.
“With the increased Internet penetration in the country, more Kenyans can now access these e-government services conveniently from simple mobile handsets.”