In 1982, Kenya was holding a major conference seeking to bridge the missing link in telephone connectivity. Twenty five years down the line, another major conference- seeking to bridge the digital divide between the rural and urban areas.
The ongoing expo, dubbed “ICTs for Development”, is bringing together people from all sectors and is geared towards improving connectivity and business prospects in rural areas.
Information and Communication minister Mutahi Kagwe presided over the opening ceremony and reiterated the government’s commitment to improve connectivity and boost business prospects in both rural and urban areas.
To underline the government’s commitment, Kagwe pointed at the fast tracking of multiple Optic Fibre Cable (OFC) i.e. TEAMS, EASSy and FLAG.
The minister promised to speed up implementation of the ICT policy though the draft bill is yet to be published in the Kenya Gazette.
Regarding telephone connectivity, the ministry wants to raise the number of users from the current 7.5 m lines to 23 million and raise the number of internet users from the current 1.5 million to 5 million.
He commended the print media for highlighting ICTs issues but argued that the media could even play a bigger role.
The ministry is organizing an ICT road show that will visit all major towns in the country, and the 210 constituencies.
While the minister was quick to challenge the private sector to demystify e-commerce to ordinary men and women, he forgot to mention lack of proper legislation would hamper e-commerce in the country.
As the private sector explains about e-commerce as the vehicle to economic recovery, there is need to explain that the same government that is touting ICTs as the savior to our economy is the same government that is dragging its feet on legislation. Whether it is the Attorney General’s responsibility or the ministry’s the public assumes they all sing from the same hymn book and they all appreciate the role of ICTs.
Yes, yote yawezekana na ICTs!