Highlights from the National Innovation Conference

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The two day innovation forum that happened 2nd-3rd March themed, “Mind the gap. Close the gap” with over 100 entrepreneurs with various innovations lifecycle was aimed at addressing challenges in the innovation ecosystem and also encourage investors to invest in the ICT sector.

“By harnessing the capabilities of both private and public sectors, we can formalize the innovation ecosystem and make it a key driver of our economy. The leading trend that Kenya has set through the growth of its ‘Silicon Savannah’ can only is catalyzed by more investment and opportunities for home-grown products and solutions. There can be no better way to achieve that then to actualize the great ideas that will be generated at the National Innovation Forum,” said Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO.

At the event president Uhuru Kenyatta launched enterprise Kenya which an initiative that is aimed at addressing challenges in the ICT innovation space, while availing a public forum for tracking and reporting on the status of ICT innovation. It will provide the necessary information required to see through our solution from the idea stage as well as the scaling stage where the solution can be able to meet a larger market by the help of the government. Also launched was MyGov. This is an online portal where citizens can access news and information about government, access to jobs and contracts.

Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of ICT Dr. Fred Matiang’i said that the forum was to meet clear measurable targets by the year 2017, as dictated by the ICT master plan. Some of the targets that were set are: to embark on a review of the procurement law to tilt it towards supporting Kenyan businesses in both current and future government ICT projects, the establishment of an equity fund to support ICT innovations which could be quasi government/private and the creation of ICT centers of excellence tied to the government ICT spending.

Seven seas technologies CEO Mike Macharia spoke on the need to build IT Kenya and Buy Kenya. “There is need to spur growth in ICT and this need a multifaceted approach from both the government and private sector to mind the gap”.

Government sectors were urged to embrace local IT innovations which will help save the economy from spending a lot of money on foreign systems and licenses and in turn channel the money to innovators. The president also directed government institutions to shift from traditional advertising to digital advertising in order to embrace technology and it would also cut cost on government spending and that money can be used somewhere.

The forum made a commitment to create 180,000 jobs, contribute to 8 per cent of the GDP, and create at least 55 globally competitive companies by 2017. Also promised was the generation of an upsurge of US$ 500 million, achievement of one billion shillings in IT exports and to provide internships to more than 15,000 interns in ICT.

Article by Wacuka Kangethe.

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