March 15, 2022
What's next for Kenya's digital journey?
By Tonny Tugee, SEACOM East and North East Africa Managing Director
Since 2016, Kenya's ICT sector has grown at an annual rate of 10.8%, making it one of the continent's fastest-growing tech environments. Kenya has firmly established itself as Africa's digital trendsetter. Here are some of the most noteworthy developments and partnerships that have been implemented, and how they may influence Kenya's digital environment in the future.
Kenya has emerged as a leader in mobile payment platforms
Kenya has not only emerged as a leader in mobile payment platforms with the launch of Safaricom's M-PESA in 2007, but it has also propelled its economic growth through financial inclusion. Huawei recently partnered with Safaricom and other network providers to assist with the implementation of services such as M-PESA, a mobile money platform; M-TIBA, a mobile health wallet that provides medical treatment; and Fuliza, a service that enables users with insufficient funds to borrow money to complete M-PESA transactions.
Fuliza processed over KES 6.2 billion in transactions in its first month, and its total loans increased by 30% when the pandemic hit East Africa. Millions of Kenyans who would not otherwise have had access to finance have been empowered thanks to microloan platforms like Fuliza.
Other foreign platforms have taken notice, such as dLocal, a major cross-border payment network that has expanded into Kenya and three more African nations to support M-PESA and Airtel payments, making it easier for Kenyan merchants to expand into new markets.
Advances in connectivity
Kenya has a number of projects in place to achieve nationwide connectivity, which is unquestionably a cornerstone of successful digital transformation. The Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology has begun construction on a 630-kilometre high-speed fibre optic cable that will benefit communities, government and businesses in Kenya's North Rift region and encourage cross-border trade with South Sudan.
Airtel Kenya, the country’s second largest telecoms company, has partnered with Nokia to roll out 4G and 5G infrastructure across the country. SEACOM has partnered with Vodacom to serve more corporate clients across Africa, while Google's parent company, Alphabet, has announced a roll-out plan for Project Taara, which will use light beams to provide super-fast connectivity.
When it comes to access to and functionality of any Internet-based technology, these advancements in connectivity will benefit Kenyan citizens and businesses significantly. This will also allow more individuals to participate in the country's burgeoning digital economy, which will improve education and employment prospects. Connectivity is not only required for digital transformation but it can also serve as a stimulus for economic growth – but only if it is fast and reliable.
Manufacturing and digitisation
In his Big Four agenda, President Kenyatta has set some lofty goals for manufacturing, aiming to increase its contribution to GDP from 9.2% in 2019 to 20% in 2022. ICT adoption has been identified as a key factor in the sector's overall improvement. Modernising operational tools, such as application programming interfaces (APIs), for example, can give workers control over multiple processes on a single virtual dashboard, but this also necessitates digital training of the workforce.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers has developed a policy framework to increase digital capabilities, create competitiveness, and manage digital change in a way that is inclusive, as evidenced by its call for women to participate in the manufacturing industry. Kenya's manufacturing industry still has untapped potential, as only 11% of firms are fully automated, leaving plenty of possibility for expansion.
70% of Africans rely primarily on agricultural income, and farmers are struggling to keep up with demand as the continent's population grows. Fortunately, digital tools are starting to take over manual processes and online commerce platforms are becoming more popular.
Digifarm (from Safaricom) gives small farmers access to finance, as well as advice and information, all via mobile. Liquid Telecom has also partnered with Twiga Foods, an online business-to-business food market, to boost farm productivity using a variety of agricultural sensors, including a weather station, soil moisture and temperature probes and more.
Technological advancements in the agricultural sector may result in the creation of additional jobs, increased food security, and economic prosperity. In the last two years, some multinational agritech start-ups have grown by 110%, demonstrating that technological solutions are defining a new era of agriculture.
Kenya’s bright digital future
Kenya possesses all of the necessary components to accelerate its digital transformation. It boasts a young, tech-savvy population with a desire to learn, as well as a well-established government capable of financing large-scale IT projects.
While connectivity is beginning to reach every part of the country, our mobile platforms are empowering people with financially inclusive services. For more information or to get a quote for our various connectivity solutions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a message.
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