Last year, the Smart Africa Initiative tasked Kenya to develop a blueprint for a digital economy in the continent that would present a framework to improve its ability to leapfrog economic growth along the pillars of digital government, digital business, infrastructure, innovation-driven entrepreneurship and digital skills and values.
Kenya’s transition to a fully digital economy would yield great results, especially through the use of the latest technologies that hold promise for productivity and systemic efficiency in diverse sectors.
A legislative framework is required that gears public policy towards new technologies — such as the internet of things (IoT), blockchain, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence (AI) — while providing the building blocks for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)-enabled economy.
Regulation also establishes fairness of competition, protecting consumers, and preventing the development of monopolies. An example is the legal framework for the regulation of certain aspects of ride-hailing companies’ operations being developed by the Ministry of Transport and the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA).
That will place Kenya on a path to transforming and deriving maximum value and benefit from a digital economy in terms of job creation and creating a more prosperous future for entrepreneurs.
The technological solutions that enable ride-hailing have the potential to improve mobility. Ride-hailing platforms play a critical role in ensuring the citizens and businesses have access and the capability to participate in the growing part of the digital economy.
Technological trends move at rapid speeds in the 4IR, unlocking innovative business models, applications and services. The policy framework should support innovation and business growth rather than over-regulate the industry to the point of stifling both of these.
Ride-sharing rules must not be barriers to entry for Kenyans, to access flexible earnings.
Regulation should ensure a commitment to safety for drivers, riders and the broader community. Ride-hailing companies and the relevant regulatory and law enforcement agencies can strengthen operations and further enhance safety and security in the sector.
Technology apps provide a platform through which millions of users can access more affordable, safer and reliable transport, and through which self-starter entrepreneurs and drivers can generate sustainable earning opportunities for themselves and their families.
A robust digital economy is characterised by fair competition and ride-hailing companies not only compete for customers, but also drivers. As such, every company will implement its unique pricing strategy for drivers and customers to choose. Restricting flexibility on the revenue models will restrict ride-hailing companies’ ability to compete and innovate, to the detriment of customers, drivers and local transporters.
By incorporating these principles, regulators will modernise existing regulations, creating tens of thousands of jobs and business opportunities to meet the ever-increasing public demand for safe, efficient and low-cost transport in Kenya.
Mr Njao is the Country Manager for Uber in Kenya. [email protected]