Kenya’s Digital Economy Is On The Horizon

Kenya’s Digital Economy Is On The Horizon

As we reflect upon the achievements of the first year of the Kenya Kwanza Government, I would like to take stock of the Digital Superhighways’ contributions to the socio-economic transformation of our country, which is well and truly on course under the leadership and tutelage of H.E. the President, Dr. William Samoei Ruto CGH. 

Kenya’s Digital Masterplan 2022-2032 recognizes infrastructure as the foundation upon which all Information, Communication, and Digital Technologies and any progress emanating thereof are anchored. It is for this reason that under the Infrastructure Pillar, we have embarked on laying 100,000 kilometers of fibre-optic cable countrywide, including to currently unserved and under-served areas to provide access to an estimated 8.5 million homes and businesses, 1,450 wards, 400 police stations, 13,000 health facilities, 40,000 public schools, markets, and other public institutions over the next five years. Without Digital Infrastructure, Kenya cannot benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR), FIN-TECH, e-commerce, 5G technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) that are the new frontier for economic transformation globally.

Working with partners in the private sector over the last twelve months, I am pleased to report that the MIC-DE has successfully rolled out an additional 8,419 Kms of fiber-optic countrywide. Expanding our fibre optic cable nationwide is a significant precursor to our digital transformation journey. Having recently successfully negotiated World Bank Funding for the Kenya Digital Economy Acceleration Program (KDEAP) Worth USD.570M and additional funding worth Ksh.5B from the Universal Service Fund to support our programs, we project to add another 10–15,000 Kms in the next 1 year to NOFBI.

To realize the full utility value of the NOFBI, it must bring socio-economic transformation to citizens by opening up opportunities for job creation, support business, and e-commerce, education, innovation, access to online and GoK e-services, e-health, e-agriculture, and the creative economy while also spurring inclusive growth. This requires providing internet connectivity to the people via last-mile connectivity, which connects the main backbone and the users. Consequently, GoK, partnering with the private sector ISPs, is installing 25,000 free public WIFI hotspots in public places countrywide, providing affordable internet connectivity to millions of Kenyans. So far, the MIC-DE has installed 518 Free WIFI Hotspots countrywide. This is bound to expand exponentially as we expand NOFBI countrywide.  

The uptake and subsequent benefit from this ICT Infrastructure and its inherent technologies is directly proportionate to the ICT literacy of the users. Our Digital Masterplan emphasizes investing in digital skills to optimize digital opportunities and socio-economic transformation. Consequently, over the last 12 months, the MIC-DE has provided connectivity to 116 educational institutions, primarily TVETs and, equipped them with 11,400 internet access devices, and trained 390,968 individuals through the Jitume and Ajira programs. This has registered a tremendous success rate, with 119,462 youths gaining employment in digital and physical ICT-related jobs through this intervention. 

To further enhance access, promote innovation and use of emergent digital technologies, and offer ICT literacy, we purpose to establish 1,450 digital innovation hubs, one in each ward. To date, we have successfully operationalized 247 hubs with access to high-speed internet and learning centers with a capacity for 30 – 100 cohorts, workstations, innovation labs, Wi-Fi hotspots, and Co-working Spaces. These hubs can potentially train 300 youths and create a corresponding number of digital jobs at a minimum, giving an average of 1,500 digital jobs per constituency. The MIC-DE has been working with Members of Parliament to amend the NG-CDF Act to enable utilization of CDF for OPEX sustenance of the hubs. I’m pleased to report that Parliament has already passed the amendment and is now awaiting assent.

Thanks to enhanced connectivity and access, in the last 12 months, the MIC-DE has digitalized and fully onboarded 13,482 GoK services. Kenyans can now access GoK services from the comfort of their homes. The Presidency is also leading from the front in adopting Digital Services, and as of January 2023, all cabinet meetings have since gone digital. To enable citizens to access GoK and other digital services seamlessly and securely in both the public and private sectors, the GoK is pursuing a digital identity to facilitate virtual consumption of government services. We have also recently intervened in the market to facilitate inclusive connectivity and access by partnering with the private sector to facilitate local assembly and provision of affordable smartphones to MSMEs and those at the lower end of the economic pyramid. The manufacturing plant was launched by H.E. the President, on October 30, 2023, and is now operational, producing low-cost smartphones at around Ksh. 7,500. 

In the media realm, the MIC-DE is already revitalizing the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) by modernizing the TV Centre, increasing FM Radio coverage with 20 additional transmitters, and procuring new Outside Broadcasting TV and Radio vans. Ongoing efforts also envisage upgrading the Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting Infrastructure through a partnership between the Kenyan and Spanish governments.

On revitalization of the Postal Corporation of Kenya, the corporation is undergoing restructuring to ensure efficient and optimal operations. We are targeting e-commerce and financial services. On the other hand, enhanced marketing of POSTA’s services is bearing fruit. In the last year, the PCK has generated over Ksh.200 million in revenue through delivery of passports nationwide. It is also working with the Department of Immigration to offer a one-stop service when one applies for a passport. In the past year, PCK has earned Ksh. 600 million for logistics services provided to the Government, expanded its EMS (Expedited Mail Services) offering, and increased new contracts that will see a projected increase from Ksh.600M in FY 2022/2023 to Ksh.900M in 2023/2024. It also delivers medical and related supplies to medical facilities in collaboration with KEMSA. The contract is expected to be worth about Ksh.295M. 

To ensure the successful implementation of its programs, the MIC-DE recognizes that it must operate within a conducive legal, policy, and regulatory framework and has either developed or progressed vital legislation in this respect. Some key achievements in this regard are the approval and the gazettement of amendments to the National ICT Policy Guidelines 2020, which removed the mandatory requirement for foreign companies investing in the ICT sector in Kenya to seek 30% local shareholding and the National Addressing System Policy and Bill, among others. To further align the industry’s operations to its operating environment, we have recently constituted a sector working group to review sectoral legal and policy frameworks and recommend wide-ranging changes and alignments shortly.

While a lot of work remains to be done, the progress made so far is encouraging. According to the World Bank, Kenya’s ICT sector’s growth has outperformed every other sector, expanding by 23% annually during the last decade. The industry is now six times larger than it was at the beginning of the decade. With your participation and support, we look forward to an empowered, digitalized and globally competitive Kenyan society. Our Digital and 24-hour economy is in the horizon.

The writer is the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy in Kenya.

Capacity Building for Successful Devolution

Capacity Building for Successful Devolution



This year, Kenyans will be watching to see what their Governors will do to conciliate the expectations of the local electorate. Indeed, the 2017 – 2022 regime of Governors face higher expectations from Kenyans – if the way the former crop of Governors were  criticized for poor service delivery is anything to go by. This, as we all know, culminated in many of them being overwhelmingly voted out by an angry electorate. From a macro-level perspective, what happens in the Counties in 2018 is crucial because successful implementation of the third Medium Term Plan (2018-2022) of the Kenya Vision 2030 requires collaboration with and active participation by the County Governments.

The National Government has already pronounced that it will focus its development Agenda on four main areas, namely; growing the manufacturing sector; expanding access to universal health coverage; providing affordable and decent housing; and enhancing food and nutrition security. In all these thematic areas, the County Governments have a role to play – and especially in the area of health which is now a largely devolved function. The Counties are also critical in the realm of food and nutrition security. For this reason, a positive intergovernmental relation (in 2018 and beyond) between both levels of Government is crucial to the success of not only devolution but also the national development agenda.

It therefore becomes imperative to undertake an End-Term evaluation to determine the extent of implementation of the 1st Cycle County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) and address the challenges that have bedeviled devolution since 2013 so that the strategic issues emanating therefrom are addressed moving into the future. The Challenges faced together with the lessons learnt and performance gaps witnessed should subsequently inform the development of the 2nd Cycle CIDPs covering the 2018-2022 period. One of the key challenges encountered by the Counties so far has been the weak governance framework  and inadequate operational capacity, which has had  detrimental effects in most of the County Governments with  the major one being inability to absorb and optimally utilize the allocated and disbursed budgetary provisions.

On one hand, reports from the Controller of Budget and National Treasury advance the argument that most Counties have perennially underutilized their budgetary resources, yet on the other hand there is the argument by the County Governments blaming the National Treasury for limited funding or delayed release of the funds. But undoubtedly, other challenges facing Counties like low performance of own-source revenue, poor quality of County policies and laws, and poor service delivery can all be attributed to a large extent, to the weak technical and institutional capacity in most of the Counties.

Capacity building of the Counties therefore becomes a key area that needs attention of the Governors in 2018. It should also be an area of interest and focus for complimentary support by the National Government, for obvious reasons. First, improved capacity at County level will enhance the policy, planning, budgeting and program execution continuum at the County level. This would not only improve absorption of development funds, but also enable the Counties to conform to the fiscal responsibility principles spelt out in the Constitution and the Public Finance management Act, 2012 to ensure that at least 30 percent of their budgetary allocations go into development and not more than 35 percent goes into salaries. Capacity building would also improve the quality of the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) which are the core policy blueprints that guide development at County level. Better quality CIDPs would translate to more effective functional Strategic Plans and Annual Work Plans which guide the day to day operations of the County Government Departments, hence better service delivery.

Also central is the fact that better human resource capacity will lead to improved County policies and laws, hence better utilization of local resources and improved service delivery. Furthermore, addressing the capacity challenges at County level will not only strengthen accountability and  fiscal discipline but also enhance own-source revenue collection and management as well as improved management of assets.

What then are the opportunities abound for County Government in terms of capacity building that they need to exploit?. First is to appreciate that there is a mix of public servants in the Counties. The first category is the public servants who were inherited from the National Government and relatively have some good level of skills and understanding of Government operations. However, they still need to be capacity-enhanced to adopt the best practices for County Governments. The other category of staff is those who were employed by the County Governments upon inception in 2013 mainly to reward political supporters. We know as a fact that most of these were largely employed based on County regional dynamics, clannism, nepotism and other non-professional considerations. They therefore require greater training support than the aforementioned one.

Considering the responsibilities of County Governments, capacity building programs need to be tailor-made to address specific capacity gaps identified through formal capacity needs assessment. However, there are some cross-cutting capacity building areas that would be applicable to all Counties. These include: Training Needs Assessment(TNA);approaches to public engagement in policy and budgeting processes; County profiles and their application in county planning; the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) budgeting process; Organizational Design; Strategic Planning; performance management; Job Evaluation; Staff Rationalization;  Management of Strategic Change; Proposal and Report Writing; Resource Mobilization; Project Management; Monitoring,Evaluation and Reporting; the Labour Laws; Legislative Drafting;Internal-Auditing;and cross-cutting issues such as gender, HIV/AIDS and disability mainstreaming; among others.

Most significantly, the Counties need to undertake demand-driven training programmes based on the Mandate and Core Business of the County Governments that is adequately informed by their respective areas of comparative advantage as opposed to supply-driven training programmes based on personal staff desire. In effect, the Counties should undertake staff development programmes arising from a comprehensive Training Needs Assessment (TNA) that is effectively-aligned to the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) and the corresponding functional Strategic Plans. The County Governments should also undertake periodic Training-Impact assessment to justify the funds utilized on training during the preceding activity period so that any future training is purely informed by value-proposition.

The writer is a Management Consultant

Is Ending Hunger A Reality Or Mirage?

Is Ending Hunger A Reality Or Mirage?


Among the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Goal 2 seeks to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. How one prays that this  goal can come to pass – for, hunger is one of the most unfortunate incapacitations in the world; as it dehumanizes mankind, makes one desperate, and if not mitigated, leads to very excruciating death through malnutrition. No wonder many have been prosecuted for engaging in crime, particularly theft in search of food. Recall that even the Holy Bible says we should forgive those who steal to quench hunger. Indeed, it is by nature of its importance that food security is ranked second among SDGs.

The SDG on food security seeks to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030, a tall order given the rising world population, the increasing incidences of drought and other environmental calamities, partially attributed to global warming. A critical look, therefore, at the UN’s  target of realizing food security and proper nutrition by 2030 begs a lot of questions. Indeed, one may perhaps ponder what miracle(s) can be performed to realize food security goal that has been perennially elusive.

On a more practical level, the question to ask is – how effective will local plans in this regard be and will the plans be translated into viable and executable strategies and programs in line with the globally spelt out approaches for accomplishing the SDG on ending hunger? Are we  able to, among other things, double agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, ensure sustainable food production systems and progressively improve land and soil quality?

Therefore, as concerted efforts are made to ensure that all Kenyans are fed – and not just with ugali – but with food varieties that improve their nutritional levels, we must at the onset evaluate and address the challenges that hinder greater growth of the sub-sectors that produce foodstuffs for Kenyans, key among them being crop and livestock husbandry on one hand and fishing and aquaculture on the other. The phrase that “agriculture is the back-bone of the economy” has grown with the country since independence and it conspicuously appears in almost all Government policy documents and development blueprints. Unfortunately, we have never been able to re-engineer agriculture into a high and sustainable growth trajectory, hence the perennial inability to realize food security in the country.

For example, looking back in the last five years, the 2017 Economic Survey indicates that the contribution of “Growing Crops” sub-sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 18%, 18.4%, 19.7%, 23.1% and a projected 25.9% in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. In the same period, “Animal Production” sub-sector contributed 5.5%, 5.3%, 5.1%, 4.7% and a projected 4.4% respectively. The contribution of the “Fishing and Aquaculture” sub-sector was standard at 0.7% in 2012, 2013 and 2014, then declined to 0.6% in 2015 and a projected 0.5% in 2016. These trends are representative of the oscillating nature of the performance of food producing sub-sectors in Kenya.

In the circumstance, Kenya must take more innovative, radical and integrated approaches to tackling food insecurity as well as improving nutrition level. As a first key measure, it is critical to engage all actors – farmers; agri-food businesses; the private sector; civil society and other stakeholders – so as to effectively assume their respective roles and contribute to the national food security targets. Indeed, if we as a Country fail to provide a mechanism for engagement, then the rich views, skills and experience of key stakeholders in the food production sub-sectors will not inform the strategies that will be formulated and subsequently deployed, a sure first step to failure.

We should also be alive to the fact that agriculture is a largely devolved function and dominates economic activity in the rural areas. This calls for well collaborated approaches of the National and County Governments to promote rural transformation and improve urban–rural linkages, critical aspects for enhancing food and nutrition security. For this reason, the two levels of Government need to target investments in infrastructure, in food systems capable of delivering safe, sustainable and nutritious food to the markets, and in expanding economic opportunity for rural and peri-urban populations along the supply chain.

We must also appreciate that nations that are food secure have invested heavily in research and subsidization programs for food production inputs. Generally, research in agriculture and other sectors in Kenya is underfunded. Subsidy programs are also largely adhoc and reactive to drought situations. This largely explains why food production sectors are either static or retrogressing. The situation has been worsened by increasing pressure on arable and grazing land, which has culminated to conflicts amongst communities in various parts of the country. Addressing these challenges calls for more commitment of additional resources on research to inform innovation and creativity that can facilitate new farming tools and methods, promote new agricultural practices that provide more consistent yields, improve sustainability, conserve water and soils, maintain or increase biodiversity, or improve resilience to droughts and floods.
Apart from research, food production programs which can meet the food and nutrition demands for all Kenyans require huge amounts of resources. This will remain a major constraint if the Country is unable to finance the food production programs in the wake of competing needs, over-commitment of resources in numerous infrastructural projects, a quickly narrowing debt space and underperformance of domestic revenues. Finally, and very important, is how we will overcome the challenges of capacity, ethics and poor work culture among public servants entrusted with implementing the programs that are expected to deliver food and nutritional security to Kenyans. We need decisive, innovative and radical measures to make Kenya a more food-secure nation or the well authored plans will remain nothing but a mirage.

The Writer is a Management Consultant

Kenya Should Effectively Align Its Development Agenda To The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs).

Kenya Should Effectively Align Its Development Agenda To The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs).


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs), referred to as the Agenda 2030 are target-based declarations adopted in early October, 2015. The Goals are expected to guide the United Nation’s development agenda up to 2030. They cover the entire spectrum of the global development agenda and were developed through a participatory process involving a wide range of stakeholders. The 17 goals and 169 targets replace the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were launched in 2000 and which were planned for achievement by 2015.

Sustainable Development Goal 1 targets to end poverty in all its forms by 2030. The Goal has adopted the extreme poverty measure of living on less than $1.25 a day. Goal 2 seeks to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture while Goal 3 seeks to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Goal 4 aims to promote quality education by ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. Gender equality is the theme for Goal 5 with the overall target of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all is Goal 6 with a specific target of achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030. Goal 7 aims at ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all while Goal 8 recognizes the nexus between economic growth and decent work and thus seeks to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Goal 9 is on industry, innovation and infrastructure where the focus is on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation. The reduction of inequalities within and amongst countries is the theme of Goal 10 by ensuring equal opportunities for all.

Goal 11 aims at developing sustainable cities and communities by making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The management of consumption and production patterns for sustainability is the overall theme of Goal 12 while Goal 13 calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts through strengthening resilience and adaptive capacities in all countries and integrating climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning. Both Goals 14 and 15 focus on the environment with the former targeting the marine and oceans ecosystems while the latter targets terrestrial ecosystems. Specific targets under the two goals seek to reduce pollution, restore polluted environments and strengthen conservation. Goal 16 is on promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, provision of access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Finally, Goal 17 seeks to strengthen and revitalize global partnerships for sustainable development.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were launched in 2000 with a timeline of 2015. They comprised eight goals namely to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development. The eight goals had 21 specific targets. In comparison therefore, the SDGs are more comprehensive than the MDGs in terms of thematic areas and targets. The SDGs have also focused more on elements of sustainability and incorporated emerging development issues on technology, conflicts and climate change.

Kenya’s progress in the achievement of MDGs has witnessed mixed fortunes over the Goals’ period. The proportion of people living below the national poverty line declined gradually from 52.3 per cent to 45.2 per cent but the country is unlikely to meet the target of 21.7 per cent by 2015. The country has realized a better performance on MDG 2, with an increase in Net Enrolment Ratio in Primary Education from 67.8 per cent to 95.9 per cent. Most of the indicators for targets under Goal 3 on gender equality and empowerment of women recorded improved performance throughout the MDGs period. The singular exception was the ratio of girls to boys in primary education which fluctuated slightly around 0.98.

All the indicators under Goal 4 recorded favorable performances during the MDGs period but showed little signs of meeting the 2015 targets. A similar performance trend was witnessed on Goal 5 with all indicators for improving maternal health showing favourable progress. Indicators on Goal 6 for HIV and AIDS showed mixed performance with significant favourble achievements on HIV prevalence among population aged 15-24 which dropped from 3.6 per cent in 2003 to 2.1 per cent in 2013 and proportion of population with advanced HIV infection with access to antiretroviral drugs which rose from 3.0 per cent to 42.5 per cent between the same period.

The Country realized positive outputs on MDG 7 with the proportion of land area covered by forests and proportion of marine areas protected meeting the 2015 MDGs target of 8.255 up from 8.244 in 2000. Indicators for trade and market access under Goal 8 showed mixed performance with proportion of total country imports into Kenya admitted duty free increasing from 90.56 per cent in 2000 to 97.88 per cent in 2011,with the 2015 target being 100 per cent.

The Kenya Vision 2030 is Kenya’s national development blueprint and aims at transforming Kenya into a globally competitive and prosperous nation, providing a high quality of life in a clean and secure environment. It further aims to transition the country to a newly-industrialized, middle level income country by 2030. The Vision is anchored on three interrelated pillars – Economic, Social and Political. The Economic Pillar targets sustained economic growth of 10 per cent per annum, the Social Pillar seeks to create a just and cohesive society enjoying equitable social development in a clean and secure environment while the Political Pillar’s aspiration is for the country to enjoy issue-based, people centered, results oriented and accountable democratic political system. The three pillars are underpinned by the Foundations for Socio-economic Transformation, which seek to provide the necessary support for the country’s social, economic and political development. Implementation of the Vision 2030 is being undertaken through five-year medium-term phases, each with a Medium Term Plan (MTP). The First MTP covered the 2008-2012 period while the Second MTP which is currently under implementation will covers the 2013-2017 period.

The launch and implementation of the SDGs will have a significant impact on Kenya’s development agenda. The sectors that are likely to be affected most by the SDGS which Kenya must reform/ restructure to align to the Agenda 2030 are Infrastructure and energy;Labour and social protection;Manufacturing;Environment and sanitation; and Governance, justice, law and order.

It is therefore imperative to align the country’s development agenda as envisioned in the Kenya Vision 2030 to the SDGs.In my opinion, this will require several initiatives, key amongst them being reviewing and harmonizing the comprehensive list of targets for the MDGs with the country’s National Integrated Monitoring and Evaluation System (NIMES);reviewing the country’s resource allocation framework to align it with priorities of the SDGs including emerging areas; undertaking the necessary policy, legal and institutional reforms to anchor key provisions within the SDGs’ targets; and the establishment of an institutional framework for monitoring and reporting Kenya’s progress in the achievement of the SDGs.

The Writer is a Management Consultant based in Nairobi.