Commonwealth ICT Forum opens in Nairobi

CS - Dr. Matiangi Addressing the CTO Forum 2015

“Broadband, broadband, broadband” This was the mantra asserted by Dr. Fred Matiang’i, the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology, in his official opening address for the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO) forum 2015.

CS  - Dr. Matiangi Addressing the CTO Forum 2015
CS – Dr. Matiangi Addressing the CTO Forum 2015

The event is being held for the first time in Africa and will run from September 14 to 16 at the Safari Park Hotel. It and is being hosted by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) in partnership with CTO and the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, plus sponsorship from ICANN, Chase Bank, Airtel, Safaricom, mSurvey and Kenya Airways.

The theme of this year’s forum ‘Towards a Connected Commonwealth’ is timely as the world continues to witness the transformational role of Information, Communications Technologies (ICTs).

In his Keynote address, Mr. Paul Njaga the CEO of Chase Bank highlighted that ICT has been quite useful in the banking sector especially through providing SMEs with quick access, enabling remote reach and development of innovative products, however there are still many challenges to overcome.

Clearly, ICTs have assumed an increasingly strategic role in the various economies but to be more effective through all sectors, three crucial aspects need to be rapidly improved. The expansion of broadband, Internet access for the vast majority and lower costs.

Indeed, these are issues experienced in many parts of Africa as noted by Dr. Matiang’i, but through strategic partnerships and effective policies, globalization and evolution through opening up markets and furthering economic growth via ICTs will be achievable as indicated by Theresa Swinehart, Senior Adviser to the President on Global Strategy, ICANN.

However, despite the challenges, some encouraging development is still evident in the Kenyan ICT sector;

  • Kenya can attest to an increased uptake of mobile and data services, increased access to better quality and more affordable broadband connectivity as well as unprecedented innovative ICT services that have invigorated sectors across our economy. Digital services such as E-banking, E-health, E-commerce, E-education are common among Kenyans as more people access affordable smart devices.
  • The country anticipates further increase in broadband penetration following the release of frequencies succeeding the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.
  • In order to combat threats, Kenya has furthered its efforts towards building her own networks of dealing with cybercrime. Recently, Kenya joined the Forum for Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST), to handle computer security incidents and promote incident prevention programs.
  • The landing of four undersea fiber optic cables between 2009 and 2012 brought an additional 8.56 terabytes per second capacity to the country, resulting in faster connectivity rates.
  • Innovations have created meaningful source of livelihood for many Kenyans. Especially mobile money transfer services have empowered rural population to transact by means of low-end mobile devices and also created financial inclusion.
  • Through the Kenya Education Network (KENET), Kenya envisages interconnecting all tertiary institutions in the country. In the next two years through the digital learning programme, the use of digital technologies in learning in all primary schools will be integrated in order to ensure the readiness of the young people for the realities of the digital world.
  • Initiatives such as the iTax portal, Huduma Centers, the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), the e-Citizen Portal, provision of key government data through an online portal (Kenya Open Data), among others are also great strides.

The forums’ opening session also saw Mr. Shola Taylor take oath of office as the Secretary-General Elect of the CTO. Mr. Taylor urged everyone to join him in planting the ICT tree through CTO programmes while asserting the saying to go far, go together.

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