Information and communications technologies (ICTs) will be a key driving force in the realisation of the government’s Big 4 agenda; manufacturing, food security, universal healthcare and affordable housing, identified by President Uhuru Kenyatta as top priority areas for the next five years.
This was the focus of the 2018 Annual ICT Week held from 16th to 18th May in Nairobi, which explored various ways that policy makers can leverage on ICTs to boost manufacturing, food security, affordable health care and housing, which are at the core of the government’s development plan.
‘‘In recent years, there has been significant progress in adoption of artificial intelligence technology driven largely by tremendous advances in contributing fields, such as big data, machine learning, computing power, storage capacity, cloud computing and distributed ledgers (blockchain),’’
Joseph Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary, ICT Ministry, Kenya.
Speaking at the event, ICT Cabinet Secretary Mr. Joseph Mucheru said that emerging technologies including artificial intelligence are now being used to improve people’s lives through healthcare, education, finance, agriculture, transportation, and a wide range of other services.
‘‘In recent years, there has been significant progress in adoption of artificial intelligence technology driven largely by tremendous advances in contributing fields, such as big data, machine learning, computing power, storage capacity, cloud computing and distributed ledgers (blockchain),’’ said Mucheru.
ICTs are primed to drive government efforts towards provision of universal healthcare in the next five years through identification and records management of beneficiaries for the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). This will thus enhance access and speed of service in health institutions and adoption of telemedicine and artificial intelligence capabilities for diagnosis.
With focus on promoting local assembly of phones, TV sets and laptops, it is envisaged that about 10,000 jobs will be created annually fuelled by the numerous business process outsourcing (BPO) services.
The Ministry of Lands has recently adopted blockchain in the digitization of lands records to drive efficiency and speed in processing of the documents. This will see increased transparency and visibility of ownership through a single source of truth.
‘‘In light of the growing influence of artificial intelligence, it is critical that government, industry, academia and civil society work together to evaluate the opportunities that this technologies present in order to ensure that the entire humanity benefits,’’ added Mucheru.
To harness the benefits these emerging technologies present, the government recently formed a taskforce on Distributed Ledgers and Artificial intelligence. The taskforce comprising key ICT sector experts and technology enthusiasts will explore and analyze global digital trends and technologies that demonstrate great potential to transform Kenya’s economy.
The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi said there are ongoing efforts to build ICT infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.
‘‘In this regard, the Authority has taken bold and deliberate steps to stimulate the infrastructure development and uptake of the ICTs services,’’ said Wangusi.
The Authority is currently deploying voice infrastructure in 202 sub locations that have no connectivity at all, covering an un-served population of approximately 700,000 people. It is also connecting 896 secondary schools with high speed Internet under the Education Broadband Connectivity project.
The deployment of terrestrial fibre optic connectivity to the 47 county headquarters has also enabled provision of cost effective governments services online.
The 2018 Annual ICT Week was hosted by CA as forum for conversation with licensees and other stakeholders on emerging issues in the ICT industry. The theme for this year was ‘Use of emerging technologies in driving the Big 4 agenda for Kenya.’’
Participants engaged on an array of issues including ICT industry initiatives in the Big 4 agenda, emerging technologies and their impact on development, universal service and access, regulatory issues in cyber security, the place of the postal and courier sub sector in the development of e-commerce as well as consumer protection within the ICT industry.
The three-day event, which brought together over 600 participants, is held locally to mark the World Telecommunications and Information Society Day (WTISD) marked on 17th May every year.
The WTISD commemorates the signing of the first Telegraph Convention n 1864 leading to the creation of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the UN specialised agency for ICTs.