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Kenya’s president asks investors to expand ‘digital superhighway’

By , Africa editor
Kenya , 16 Aug 2023
President William Ruto.
President William Ruto.

President William Ruto of Kenya is inviting partners and investors to expand high-speed internet access throughout the country.

Ruto made the request while meeting with Karibu Connect, a global associate of Elon Musk's SpaceX, on Tuesday at the Eldoret State Lodge in Uasin Gishu County.

The president stated that his administration has prioritised the 'digital superhighway' as a key factor in Kenya's transformation, employment creation, and economic growth.

To this end, Ruto extended an invitation to global actors to join East Africa's largest economy in expanding high-speed internet access in Kenya.

This, he explained, will ensure that remote regions of the nation receive the economic benefits of the digital space in a cost-effective manner.

"In addition to fibre connectivity, emerging connectivity solutions like satellite will be considered," he said.

Jimmy Grewal, CEO of Elcome International, and Kavit Handa, chairman of Africa Capital were both present at the meeting.

To assist investors, Ruto said government has removed the 30% restriction on local shareholdings in the ICT sector.

Last month, Kenya repealed a contentious rule requiring global tech multinationals, such as Airtel, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, to cede at nearly a third of their shareholding to locals.

Since assuming power, Ruto has touted technology as the key to boosting Kenya's efficacy, fostering inclusion, and promoting transparency.

Ruto said he wants to use technology to ‘deepen and strengthen’ the public's trust in government.

The Kenyan government has since digitised government services, and citizens can now access over 5,000 government services online via an upgraded e-Citizen platform that was recently unveiled.

At the launch, Ruto said that the e-Citizen platform will improve service delivery by eradicating inefficiency, corruption, waste, and discrimination. Previously marginalised communities will no longer be excluded from government services as a result of digitization, he added.

Kenya has intensified efforts in recent months to expand the country's ICT sector in order to boost productivity and competitiveness.

In June, the largest economy in East Africa presented its budget for the fiscal year 2023/2024, allocating $109.6 million (KES 15.1 billion) to finance initiatives in the ICT sector.

The financial backing supports the growth and development of the expanding ICT sector as the country works to become an ICT innovation hub.

The nation has implemented stringent measures to ensure the expansion of the digital economy.

Among these are the National ICT Policy, Kenya Start-Up Act, Data Protection Act, Digital Economy blueprint, and the Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act.

Additionally, Kenya is developing the Konza Technopolis project, a large technology hub that will be constructed 64 kms south of Nairobi. The government is marketing the initiative as a pillar of its development strategy, Kenya Vision 2030.

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