Friday, March 06, 2015

The Blind Spot

The President in his speech to the ICT Sector Innovation Forum (March 3, 2015) rightly acknowledges that Kenya’s ICT sector has transformed the country. More importantly he acknowledges that ICT is an important pillar in the future development of Kenya as exemplified in the National Vision 2030.

The President also states that the Digital Talent Program aims at spearheading the development of higher achievers into public servants of great impact. My interpretation is that talented Kenyan ICT prodigies are also set to benefit from this program.

Inasmuch as we appreciate the commendable effort by the government to “technologize” Kenya there is a fundamental blind spot in its strategy.

The President’s speech made no mention of how his government will professionalize the ICT sector in Kenya.

The ICT accomplishments that the President extols have therefore, by default, been achieved by non-professionals.

The innovations we are all benefiting from have been facilitated by Kenyans who are classified as non-professionals by the Government.

ICT professionals in Kenya are spurring economic development and saving lives. They are making life easier and more productive. Despite all these they are not recognized as professionals because there is no statute entrenching ICT as a profession in Kenya.

My request to the Government of Kenya is that Kenya will not fully realize its ICT potential unless ICT workers are legally recognized as professionals just like teachers, lawyers etc.

This sector needs a solid legal bedrock on which we can build a knowledge based economy. A bedrock that will regulate and promote its member.

It is high time the Government acknowledged this blind spot.

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President’s speech – ICT Innovation Forum

March 3, 2015/in News, Press /by PSCU

SPEECH BY H.E. HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE ICT INNOVATION FORUM, KENYATTA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, NAIROBI, 3RD MARCH, 2015

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to join you at our very first national ICT sector Innovation Forum.

This is an important event coming at a critical time in our quest to transform our country to a truly middle-income industrial nation.

There is no way we can expect to achieve this ambitious dream without fully automating our production and governance systems.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to say we as a country have recognized the place of ICT in our development agenda. Indeed, Kenya’s ICT sector is vibrant, ambitious and visionary. This is what has enabled it to transform this country into one of the world’s smartest societies. It has made life easier, work more productive and enterprise more efficient and
profitable for our people.

For corporations and other organizations in the public and private sector and even in government, ICT has transformed how we work and deliver. Indeed, through ICT, Government has become more efficient, more accountable and more transparent.

Moreover, ICT remains the home of great promise for us as Kenyans. Given our positive ICT experience, we fully expect the sector to play an even greater role in national development and governance.

That is why ICT is an integral component of our National Vision2030. Our ICT Masterplan projects that the sector can comfortably generate more than 180,000 jobs between now and 2017.

It is also expected to contribute at least 8% of our Gross Domestic Product in the same period. By all accounts, therefore, ICT is a big deal in Kenya.

Innovation is the cornerstone of every transformative and visionary development strategy. Innovation is the catalyst of civilizational evolution. The entire history of socioeconomic revolutions rests on inventions and strategies borne of innovative minds.

The Digital Revolution currently underway throughout the world is the single most transformative, large-scale and multidisciplinary force of change ever witnessed by humanity. It is powered solely by bold innovation in the ICT sector.

As a regional and international hub, Kenya is an inevitable intersection of global trends and influences. The ICT revolution found us ready and able to run with the world’s fastest innovators and entrepreneurs in the sector.

This has seen us become a leader in ICT entrepreneurship and innovation. The Silicon Savannah is a reality confirmed by transformative innovations conceived in the minds of Kenyans and implemented by Kenyan firms. When it comes to ICT, Kenya requires no introduction to the world. When it comes to innovation, we count among the leaders.

I am happy to know that this is a forum dedicated to innovation.

Innovation leads to wonderful solutions and reduces challenges.

Innovation expands opportunities and spreads them among the people.

Innovation promotes equality and integration. Innovation increases productivity and wealth. It is the way to the future.

My Government has taken deliberate steps to support private entrepreneurs to thrive and employ more Kenyans.

We are committed to making this country one of the world’s best investment destinations. To do this, we have made substantial progress in facilitating all entrepreneurs navigate the requisites of setting up in Kenya.

We have invested tremendously in the infrastructure required to drastically lower the cost of production. We are supporting young people through Uwezo Fund and the Youth Fund to start their own enterprises and apply their talent to profitable innovations.

The Digital Talent Programme is aimed at spearheading the development of high achievers into public servants of great impact.

The ICT Authority is tasked with leading the charge in accelerating the growth of our ICT sector. A proper environment for excellence in ICT is my Government’s priority.

The private sector has been a critical driver of ICT growth in Kenya.

We expect that the private sector will maintain its leading role by stepping up efforts to develop talent and support entrepreneurship.

Our higher education institutions continue the excellent work of training brilliant ICT leaders.

I look forward to greater partnership between Government, the private sector and educational institutions to strengthen Kenya’s leadership position in ICT.

I urge all stakeholders to contribute to the addition of more ICT incubation hubs into the existing network. This will enable more people engage in innovative activity throughout Kenya.

The ICT Ministry must lead efforts by various stakeholders to ensure that Enterprise Kenya takes off and begins to nurture innovation in the sector.

We are determined to expanding our ICT exports by directing our innovations to the regional and global market.
We look to ICT to transform the way we do things in all sectors.

Innovation will continue to transform service delivery in agriculture and food production, transportation, health, education, security,fiscal and financial management, justice, law and order among other sectors. ICT also enables more people to contribute to development.

It extends opportunity to all irrespective of location, background, gender or disability. Indeed, by supporting innovation in the ICT sector, we are transforming opportunity.

My Government is keen to expand and transform opportunity for all Kenyans.

Thank you all for being here. As I conclude, I urge you to roll up your sleeves and proceed expeditiously with the business at hand.

Innovation is a vital, urgent task that must not wait.

Expectations are high, but you are more than capable of exceeding them. Do not hold back. Enjoy the adventure.

It is now my pleasure to declare the ICT Innovation Forum is now officially opened.

Thank you, and God bless you.


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