President Uhuru Kenyatta called upon the Ministry of ICT to a create a taskforce that would ensure Kenya leverages on blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies, barely 24 hours later the Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru named a 11-person team for the taskforce sparking a lot of conversation as Kenya’s government system seemed to usually work on snail speed to get things done.
The taskforce was tasked to publish a roadmap for distributed ledger and artificial intelligence (AI) for the country for the next fifteen years with the primary objective of making Kenya a leader in job creation through the big four agenda.
“In the ICT field, one year is almost equivalent to five years in the real world so we are breaking it into five-year periods so that we are able to take bite-sized chunks,” said Mucheru.
The 11 person taskforce is chaired by former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, Dr. Bitange Ndemo who is expected to lead the team to point out on how the government can leverage on the emerging technologies in the next five years within the next three months, with other key milestones in 2027 and 2032.
Dr. Ndemo is not only known for being a PS, ICT during former president Mwai Kibaki’s tenure but also for his key partaking in earning Kenya the ‘Silicon Savannah’ name.
So who really is Dr. Ndemo?
Between 1989 and 1993 he was a Financial Systems Analyst with Medtronic Inc. a Fortune 500 company in the USA. He joined University of Nairobi in 1993 as a Tutorial Fellow rising through the ranks to become a Senior Lecturer in the Business School. In 2005, Dr. Ndemo continued to champion strategies of moving and transforming Kenya into the digital age in all spheres. Dr. Ndemo holds a PhD in Industrial Economics from the University of Sheffield in the UK, an MBA and bachelors degree in Finance and Accounting from the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Ndemohas been involved in initiatives to lower the cost of accessing ICTs (connectivity, hardware and software) in Kenya and the region. His priority has been to connect East Africa to the rest of the World through the under- sea fibre optic cable. He is at the forefront of developing the demand side of ICTs by actively promoting Business Process Outsourcing in both urban and rural areas.By virtue of his current position, Dr. Ndemo sits at the Boards of the Postal Corporation of Kenya, Telkom Kenya, Kenya Film Commission, and the Kenya ICT Board.
Something to also bear in mind is Dr. Ndemo and former President Mwai Kibaki among others launched the Konza City Project and were on the process of developing the Standard Gauge Railway.
One thing I realized as I worked on this article is that the individuals named to be part of the taskforce have in one way or the other worked with the government directly or indirectly.
Juliana Rotich – Technology and Industry
Ms. Juliana Rotich is a Venture Partner at Africa Technology Ventures. She co-founded Ushahidi Inc. where she previously as the Program Director and also served as its Executive Director until September 24, 2015, though still part of BOD.
Ms. Rotich is a blogger, digital activist and environment editor of Global Voices Online. She is also an IT Professional with years of experience in Database administration, Application development and project management. She leads a team that is expanding its global footprint and making crowdsourcing tools available and useful, and catalyzing entrepreneurial initiatives like iHub in Kenya.
She served as the Data Analyst at Hewitt Associates in Chicago, She also has on-the-ground experience as a citizen Journalist and has worked in the telecommunications and data warehousing industry for over 10 years. She is Chairman of the Global Agenda Council on Data Driven Development with World Economic Forum and serves as Director of BRCK Inc. She serves as Member of Board of Trustees at Fundación Innovación Bankinter.
She is a StartingBloc Social Innovation fellow with a passion for non-profit work that involves technology. Ms. Rotich is globally recognized as a technologist, strategic advisor, entrepreneur, futurist, TED Senior Fellow, MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow and keynote speaker. She was named one of the Top 100 women by the Guardian newspaper and top two women in Technology 2011 and Social Entrepreneur of the year 2011 by The World Economic Forum. She was included in the Young Global Leaders Class of 2016.
Stephen Chege – Legal and Regulatory, and Scale
Stephen Chege has been in Safaricom from 2006 where he joined as in-house counsel where he went on to become Senior Manager Group Policy and Market Regulation in 2008 and thereafter in 2011 became the Head of Regulatory and Public Policy where he was before the appointment as Director of Corporate Affairs.
He is currently responsible for strategic external relations with Safaricom’s Stakeholders and Regulators both locally and globally. The Corporate Affairs division in Safaricom hosts the Regulatory and Public Policy, Legal and Secretarial Services, Corporate Responsibility and Corporate Communications functions. His role is responsible for safeguarding Safaricom’s interests and reputation with key industry groups. He leads engagement with Government Ministries, Parliament and key Regulators such as the Communications Authority of Kenya, the Central Bank of Kenya, the Competition Authority of Kenya and other global stakeholders such as the GSM Association.
He is on the Board of Directors at The Safaricom Foundation. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nairobi and a graduate degree from the University of Nairobi.
Charity Wayua PHD- Research and Ease of Doing Business
Charity is currently a Research Manager at IBM Research Africa. She leads the Public Sector team whose mission is to develop commercially viable technologies that transform how governments function and provide services to their citizens. She and her colleagues are currently working with the Kenyan government as technical advisors to develop and help implement reforms that transform the business environment for SME’s to thrive. In the first year of implementation this work resulted in Kenya’s ranking on the World Bank annual Ease of Doing Business ranking improving by 21 spots and Kenya was rated the third top reformer in the world.
Charity holds a PhD in Chemistry from Purdue University and a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Xavier University.
John Walubengo – Technology, Education and Industry
Mr John Walubengo holds an MSc in Strategic Business IT (University of Portsmouth) and a BSc in Mathematics & Computing (KU) and is currently a PhD student at the University of Nairobi. He has earned several industry certifications including the CCNA (Certified Cisco Network Associate) and the CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) certification. His area of specialisation is in the designing and deployment of secure Internet based solutions for Local Area Networks and Wide Area Networks.
He has over 20 years experience in the IT Training and Consulting. His work experience included working for the Strathmore University as the IT Course Director and then as a Senior Lecturer and Head of IT Training, at the Multimedia University College of Kenya (MMU). He is currently the Dean, Faculty of Computing & IT at Multimedia University College and continues to provide Consultancy services to Government and other organisations. He is a regular blogger on topical ICT issues and serves on various local and international ICT Boards.
Elizabeth Ondula – Technology and Research in Blockchain
Elizabeth is the Research Software Engineer and IoT Specialist at IBM Research Africa currently working on addressing IoT Privacy and Security using blockchain. My current work is focusing on optimizing blockchain applications for Edge Computing devices. Though not new at IBM, Elizabeth had previously been an intern at IBM Researh Africa for two years then became a software engineer before leaving the company.
Elizabeth has successfully filed two patents with the third still on due process. With skills ranging from machine learning to systems engineering to programming languages, Elizabeth has been able to score quite a bit of accolades in her tenure: IBM Best IoT Devices- and Mobile-related Application for Services Professionals, iHub- The 100: Tech Community Appreciation Awards, NASA- International Space Apps Challenge to name a few.
Co-founder and mentor to Women who Mentor and Innovate in Africa, she’s an Internet of Things Instructor at Strathmore University and also Machine to Machine Systems Instructor to the Masters Students.
Elizabeth has a Bachelors Engineering degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the Technical University of Kenya where she spends her time also as Robotics Lab Assistant.
Fred Michuki – Global Finance, Scale
Fred is currently the Managing Director at Mobile Financial Solutions Limited, he has been in the position for five months, prior to which he was the Managing Director, Commercial Banking, Kenya and East Africa at Standard Chartered Bank. A position many say was accomplished through hard work and determination because he grew whilst on the job having worked at Standard Chartered since 1999. Fred is quite accomplished in: Core Credit Cirriculum, Core Operational Risk Management and Assurance Framework, Credit Skills Assessments, Driving Performance through Objective Setting, Executive Sales Leadership and Rethinking Leadership.
Lesley Mbogo – Technology and E-Commerce
Lesley is the Head of Mobile Apps at M-KOPA Solar and a product leader with over 12 years’ experience in developing enterprise software solutions. She has a breadth of experiences across software engineering, product management, and business development. Currently, she’s a product manager of infrastructure cloud-based solutions, and really enjoying building and operating products at massive scale. Prior to this, she had built data storage management solutions and also patented several technologies. She is also passionate about customer relationship management and business development.
Specialties: product management, product strategy, product launch, software development, marketing analysis, operations, business development.
Michael Onyango – Tecnology, Devolution, Community and Policy
Former Minister of Information, Communication and Technology for County Government of Kisumu, Mr. Michael Onyango is the currently the Project Lead at AfricaCreativeHub bringing a diversity of communication and public policy experience, Having attended University of a Cape Town to study Public Policy and Private Sector Development, University of Southern California and the Anneberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania to partake in an executive course in Communication and Governance Reform whilst holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture/Business Administration from Andrews University.
Michael believes in connecting present African generation to first-class, global opportunities (scholarships, trainings, fellowships, grants, internships, funding, jobs), conducting practical soft skills trainings that fulfill the void of school learning – life’s soft skills, ensuring that Africa’s economic agenda now and in the future, is owned, in the hands and leadership of Africans.
More information to be updated on John Gitau and Mahmoud Mohammed Noor.