In an extensive interview with Citizen TV’s Waihiga Mwaura, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for ICT and Digital Economy, Eliud Owalo, announced a new initiative that could see smartphones being manufactured in Kenya for less than KES 5,000 by the end of this year.
Owalo said the initiative is part of the government’s digitisation agenda, which also includes the launch of free public Wi-Fi hotspots in several counties and the digitisation of at least 5,000 government services within the next six months, as stipulated in the Digital Superhighway document. To this end, the ICT Ministry has already digitised 350 services.
The new initiative aims to leverage technology and create digital jobs for young people.
Owalo said he expects that the initiative could create 1.5 to 2 million jobs for youth, and the initiative also includes follow-ups and ensure that the hotspots are functional.
He said that the government is reacting to the demands of the market and the fast-growing ICT sector, and acknowledged that if the taxman is looking for revenue, they will target the ICT sector, however, this does not mean it should be seen as a step backward.
The government has also taken over the eCitizen platform, which will be upgraded and expanded, and has been gazetted as the official government digital payment platform.
The government also aims to roll out 25,000 Wi-Fi hotspots by 2027, with an average of 5,000 per year, and is working with service providers such as Google and telecom companies to achieve this.
The hotspots have been launched in other markets, such as Marikiti market, City Market, Nyeri, Ahero, Kapsabet, and Kericho, and the goal is to leverage technology to enhance e-commerce activities.