World Bank endorses Kenya’s digital plans
The World Bank last week approved $390 million in funding to amplify Kenya’s growing digital economy.
The monies will be used in financing the first phase of Kenya’s Digital Economy Acceleration project, which aims to ‘expand access to high-speed internet, improve the quality and delivery of education and selected government services, and build skills for the regional digital economy’.
The World Bank said the Kenya Digital Economy Acceleration Project will use a multi-phase programmatic approach with two phases. Phase one will run from 2023 to 2028, focusing on expanding access to high-speed internet.
Phase two of the project will run from 2026-2030, concentrating on building a data-driven and secure environment for enhanced digital service delivery and innovation for the regional digital economy.
In addition, the project will also mobilise an estimated $100 million in private capital for broadband infrastructure development.
The Kenya Digital Economy Acceleration project is also expected to increase access to broadband through an expansion of the fibre optic backbone and last-mile connectivity to government and learning institutions, as well as along the country’s borders, benefiting the regional digital market.
“Broadening access to digital technologies and services is a cross-cutting pathway to accelerate economic growth and job creation, improve service delivery, and build resilience,” said Keith Hansen, World Bank country director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda.
“The Kenya Digital Economy Acceleration Project aims to help make Kenya’s growth more equitable by shrinking disparities in digital skills and connectivity, and expanding the digital marketplace.”
According to the World Bank, while Kenya has made impressive gains, there remains a persistent digital divide in access to broadband, digital public services, and the skills needed for individuals and businesses to thrive in an increasingly digitised economy and society.
It noted: “Kenya needs the economies of scale and network effects of a larger and more competitive regional market to achieve its vision to become one of the premier digital investment and innovation hubs on the African continent. Likewise, the lagging countries in the sub-region would benefit from greater access to Kenyan innovation and services.”
Tim Kelly, lead digital development specialist at World Bank, commented: “The initiative will increase last-mile connectivity by boosting broadband network coverage for over 70% of Kenya’s population that resides in rural and underserved areas.
“Kenya’s digital agenda, reflected in the ambitious ‘ICT Master Plan’, aims to transform the country into a regional ICT hub by increasing fibre optic coverage to 100 000 km and digitising 80% of public services.”