Current ICT Initiatives and projects - Republic of Kenya

There are a wide range of ICT Initiatives and projects ongoing in Kenya focused on eInfrastructure (Konza City, County Connectivity projects, National Fibre Optic Broadband Infrastructure, and Digital Migration), eLearning and Skills development (the Laptop Programme, Digital Learning Programme, Presidential Digital Talent Programme), Digital Inclusion (Pasha Centres/Digital Villages), Business Process Outsourcing, Local Content Programme (Tandaa Digital Content Grants, Open Data Portal), Information Security and Other Initiatives (zero-rated taxes on imported ICT hardware, eGovernment).

Kenya Education Network (KENET)

KENET was established in 1999 as a membership institution for educational and research institutions to provide the National Research and Educational Network in Kenya and its vision was enacted in 2001. It is a not-for-profit Trust with seven registered Trustees (five Vice Chancellors, Principle Secretary, Ministry of Education, Director General, Communications Authority) and is governed by a Board of Trustees assisted by a Management Board. It has 88 full Members and is the largest NREN in Africa after TENET in South Africa. It is housed within the Library of the University of Nairobi, with a data centre in the University of Nairobi and a mirror data centre in the United States International University. It provides cost-effective Internet connectivity to its member institutions. It also offers Enterprise Services, Research Services and Capacity Building. There are 240 campuses across Kenya. All universities and university colleges are connected to KENET except Mount Kenya University. This critical mass allows KENET to have the necessary purchasing power to get value for money on behalf of its members.

KENET is licensed by the Communications Commission of Kenya as an Alternative Network Facility Provider for educational purposes. KENET is managing the largest IP network in Kenya. It is responsible for all nodes and it provides the bandwidth to the gate of the campus. There are currently six points of presence - Nairobi (hosted by University of Nairobi), Mombasa (hosted by Mombasa Polytechnic University), Meru (hosted by Kenya Methodist University), Nakuru (hosted by Egerton University), Eldoret (hosted by Moi University) and Kisumu (hosted by Maseno University). It purchases connectivity in bulk based on a mixture of lease lines from commercial service providers as well as dark fibre, which it lights up. KENET provides hands on training for one year and can also provide certification. There is an equipment node in each University and KENET has empowered technical staff within each university to take responsibility for maintenance of the local area network. KENET manages the link to Amsterdam/London, the circuit and the data centres. It is currently working with the campuses to enable Wireless Infrastructure. It is estimated that there are currently 250,000 students across the country. The wireless networks in the campuses are being designed to support up to 5,000 concurrent users.

The network was built in cooperation with Government investments and the Government of Kenya has provided funds for necessary equipment. The Kenya ICT Authority (previously Kenya ICT Board) procures equipment and hand it over in trust to KENET, who insures it and negotiates with HEIs for the space to install the equipment. KENET is run as a Trust to solve the challenges of its university members and is responsible for running the network on a sustainable not-for-profit basis. Each member institution pays a fee for connectivity based on the capacity required.

KENET had a small infrastructure grant from Google and worked with the Google Cash community aggregating traffic. Google App-s supporting Programs (GASP) is available to universities in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. Google is working with Kenyan Universities to provide ubiquitous Internet access and improve the experience of users. Google will match the university's investment on a 1:1 basis up to a predetermined limit for qualifying campus infrastructure projects that improve connectivity for staff and students. Google planned to launch an Internet Measurements Lab during 2013, which will be hosted by KENET. This will provide data and tools to support regulation.

KENET promotes collaboration in STEM research (Health, Agriculture, Education, ICT, Engineering) and ICT-based Research Collaboration opportunities. KENET supports research and innovation champions through sponsorships to participate in international conferences and workshops and collaboration research through mini-grants.

KENET has set up a Shibboleth Identity provider with the support of the ei4Africa FP7 eInfrastructures research team. Shibboleth is a standard based, open source software package for web single sign-on across or within organisational boundaries. The Shibboleth Identify provider integrates with an LDAP. The Identity Provider will be used for Access to the Africa Science gateway by users in KENET network - KENET is the Registration Authority (RA) for the research community in Kenya. KENET has benefited from the ei4Africa FP7 project's arrangement with CoMoDo (a provider of globally recognised certificates) with fee access to one certificate for KENET and KENET member institutions as part of the project. KENET is using this free CoMoDo wildcard certificate for all of its other applications (Websites, monitoring tools and email). KENET promotes the use of official certificates by connected member institutions, not only for research but also for their ERPs and Cloud-based applications. Benefiting from results from the SciGala Open Science Platform project, KENET has build some of the critical research infrastructure components required for a federated Open Scienc Platform.

Through UbuntuNet Alliance, KENET is a beneficiary under Africa Connect and Africa Connect 2 project.

eInfrastructure Projects

Konza Technology Park

As part of the Vision 2030 Flagship Programmes, the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Information and Communication plans to set up a technology park at Konza. The main objective of developing an ICT park is to enable to job creation as well as being an avenue to provide the necessary environment to attract investment. It is part of a wider scheme to position Kenya as the region's technology hub, using development to entice more companies to set up base in the country. The park also aims to facilitate business activity within and outside the country, reinforce efficient linkages between the private and public sector, promote the acquisition and usage of ICT in the country and promote good ICT governance. The first phase of implementation is underway with the development of basic infrastructure including water, power, high-speed fibre connectivity with 6 independent back bones.

County Connectivity Project

The ICT Authority implemented the county Connectivity project which aimed to ensure that county government offices are connected to the Internet and to facilitate the provision of online services using telephones, emails and teleconferencing. The offices connected included: County Commissioners; treasury department's Civil Registration departments; National Registry Bureau; Education departments and the governor's office. During the first phase 28 countries were connected to teh Government Common Core Network. In Phase 2 the remaining 19 countries were connected and staff trained.

National Fibre Optic Broadband Infrastructure (NOFBI)

By June 2013, 4,300 Km of the National Optic Fibre Backbone (NOFBI) Network had been laid in 27 Counties. In June 2016, over 6,000 Km of NOFBI network had been laid across all the 47 Counties. 44 out of 46 OSP and LAN survey in the Counties have been completed. Installation of equipment has been completed in 29 Counties while installation works is in progress in 9 Counties. OSP and LAN had been completed in 29 Counties. Installation is on going in the 12 Counties while 5 Counties are awaiting approval of design and wayleave.

eLearning and Skills development Projects

Digital Learning Programme (DLP)

The Digital Learning Programme (DLP) was initiated by the Government of Kenya in 2013. It has four components: Technology and Infrastructure, Teacher Training, Digital Content and local assembly. The programme is targeting at learners in all public primary schools and is aimed at integrating the use of digital technologies in learning. The government initiated the program out of the conviction that technology has the power to bring about systemic change in basic and higher education by transforming teaching and learning through integrating technology in the learning environment. The learners are entitled to a luminous green tablet while the teachers receive a blue laptop. In the on-going implementation targeting all public Primary schools in Kenya. Over 75000 teachers in public Primary Schools were trained in readiness for the project implementation. With full implementation of the DLP project, the government expects increased national digital literacy levels and revolution of the countries digital economy.

During the first phase over 1 million devices have been distributed to over 19,000 public primary schools with digital learning materials prepared for Maths, Science, Social Studies, Engilsh and Kiswahili. 91,000 teachers have received ICT training. Through the NOFBI project over 6,000kms of fibre has been laid which will assist in providng Internet connectivity to public primary schools. Over 22,000 schools were connected to the grid. As part of the local assembly component, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in collaboration with the Ministry of Industrialization established the Nairobi Industrial and Technology Park to assemble devices and Moi University set up an assembly plan in Eldoret. The planning for the second phase of this project commenced in March 2018.

Presidential Digital Talent Programme

As part of the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Master plan, this program aims to grow ICT leadership and increase the relevance of ICT in business principles in management and public service delivery. It is also aimed at building ICT technical capacity in government for effective service delivery. The program provides internship to ICT and engineering graduates. The trainees undergo mentorship in private and public institutions for a period of one year. The first 100 trainees graduated in March 2016, the second group of 400 interns graduated in November 2017 and the third cohort of 400 interns in August 2018. The program aims at achieving workforce development for effective and efficient services delivery leveraging on ICT. The interns have the opportunity to support public services delivery. To date they have assisted in the digitisation of records at the Ministry of Land, supported the implementation of the Digital Learning Programme, provided ICT support to the examinations council and contributed to eGovernment service provision. Huawei has provided sponsorship for the Innovation Awards and has provided network training for the interns.

Skills Programmes

In terms of Skills Programs, Kenya ICT Authority is working with Carnegie Mellon University in relation to the Chipuka Software Development Certification, which tests the ability of developers to write and execute code based on skills used in IT companies. This project aims to train 500 developers per year.

On 24 January 2013, the Kenya ICT Authority launched the first government supported ICT Incubation Program on behalf of the Ministry of Information and Communications, with funding of $1.6 million from the International Development Association of the World Bank as part of the Kenya Transparency and Infrastructure Project. The host incubator was selected through a competitive call and was awarded to NaiLab from 2013 - 2016. Nailab provides a 3 - 6 months entrepreneurship program, mentorship and facilities to support ICT start-ups. The incubation program was run in Nairobi, with 24 start ups incubated, of which 19 were in operation by 2016. Initially it was envisaged that virtual incubation services would be provided and a number of hackathons were organised in Mombasa and Kisumu. Challenges were identified in terms of infrastructure, access to mentors and lack of partners to support remote incubation. Nailab set up a seed fund, which provided 4.5 million KES to 11 start-ups (average funding of $4,000 per start up).

Digital Inclusion Projects

Pasha Centres (Digital Villages)

In 2010, the government rolled out an initiative that will diffuse ICT know-how to the rural and marginalized areas to address regional disparities. Entrepreneurs, who run Digital Villages, are awarded loans in a competitive process, which they repay over a period of time. Pasha Centre's as the hubs are called, provide a host of services to the public via computers connected to the internet, or by using and marketing other ICT-enabled applications.

Digital villages are e-centers that provide a suite of services to the public via computers connected to the internet, digital cameras, printers, fax machines and other communication infrastructure. These services include, but are not limited to e-mail, internet access, agency banking, e-banking, for example, money transfer services such as Posta Pay, eGovernment, for example, police abstract forms, tax returns, and driving license applications, ebusiness, for example, franchised postal and courier services, e-learning, e-health, e-markets, for example, agricultural commodity pricing and exchange and e-monitoring, for instance, real-time local level monitoring of development funds and projects.

The main objective of the centres was to provide Internet access, e-government services and other e-services at the grassroots level via public-private partnerships. The Pasha Centers have been funded through Digital Villages Revolving Fund. So far, 61 Pasha centres are operational.

During the start of Vison 2030 MTP II, the centers were not doing well and a study was commissioned to look the best financing model for this initiative.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)/IT Enabled Services

Outsourcing has been identified in the Vision 2030 as a key pillar and driver of social and economic improvement through job and wealth creation. The government has developed a roadmap that will see Kenya take advantage of its unique geographical position and its well-developed ICT human resource base to become the preferred destination for outsourcing in Africa. The 2006 Kenya ICT Strategy and the Vision 2030 development print created the framework for Kenya to focus on global business process outsourcing as a way of generating jobs for young people and generating wealth for local entrepreneurs and investors.

Given the importance of the ICT industry for creating growth and generating opportunities in Kenya, especially among young people, and its growing contribution to GDP, the Government of Kenya is keen to take up a focused enterprise development initiative in close collaboration with the private sector.

Local Content Programme

Over 50% of Kenyans now have access to the Internet, majority of whom access the Internet through their mobile phone. As a result, the Government embarked on develop services and products to reach these millions of Kenyans through this new media.

Tandaa Digital Content Grant

The Government ran a $4 million three-year grant program from 2010 - 2013 through the Kenya ICT Authority to support the development of local digital content. Grantees are selected through an Annual Call for Proposals.

The Tandaa Local Digital Content Grant was a grant to provide seed funding for companies entering new media and ICT, to support Internet and mobile phone product and service delivery. Applicants were required to be Kenyan citizens over eighteen or companies/organisations registered in Kenya. Solutions could address rural or urban communities and awards can be granted from Private Sector Innovation or Government Data Applications. Under the second round of grants, a new grant type was available for established companies and the top 150 applicants will receive free business plan training in Nairobi.

Tandaa Digital Content Grants were awarded to 14 companies and one individual under the First Round in 2010 and 21 companies (50,000 USD), 8 individuals (10,000 USD) and one matching grant (150,000 USD) under the Second Round (2011/2012).

Kenya open data initiative (KODI)

Kenya launched an open Government data portal in 2011 as the first country in sub-Saharan Africa and second on the continent after Morocco. The goal of was to make core government development, demographic, statistical and expenditure data available in a useful digital format for researchers, policymakers, ICT developers and the general public. The online portal was re-launched in July 2015, with an improved user experience and more timely and diverse data. The take up at county level has been slow. In December 2018 the website indicates that there are 686 resources across 11 sectors.

Information Security

In order to address cybersecurity challenges at national level, the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology in cooperation with the ICT Authority launched the National Cybersecurity Strategy 2014 in June 2014. The Framework incorporates the National Cybersecurity Strategy, National Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and the Kenya Computer Incidence Response Team, Coordination Center (KE-CIRT/CC).

Other Initiatives

ICT Hardware

ICT hardware is a very important component of ICT infrastructure and a pre-requisite to any meaningful deployment of ICT services to the population. Unfortunately, they have to be imported and until recently, imported hardware parts were not subject to any fiscal concessions. Currently, the taxes on ICT hardware are largely zero-rated. Zero-rated taxes on ICTs are integral to the Government policy objective of universal access to affordable ICT services.

The Government will set up National ICT Centres of Excellence to develop a critical mass of human resource required to support capacity for the industry.

ICT Software

The Government negotiated with various ICT software providers with a view to securing bargains that will make ICTs affordable and universally accessible. In addition to providing fiscal concessions on software, the Government also promoted local software development by encouraging a scheme to ensure that at least 50 percent of Government software procurement is sourced from local software developers. The Government will also encourage software multinationals like Microsoft and Oracle to offer special incentives such as free development tools, training, certification and marketing support to local software developers.


The launch of e-Government services in Kenya is one of the main priorities of the Government of Kenya towards the realization of national development goals and objectives for Wealth and Employment Creation, as outlined in the Kenya Vision 2030. The e-Government Programme was launched in June 2004. Through the e-Citizen web portal the public has online access to a number of public services offered by various Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, within one channel. Over time the Government has increased the number of public services that are available online. Some of these include payment of taxes through iTax, renewal of drivers' licences, business registration, passport application, and application of death and birth certificates among many more.

The portal is supplemented by Huduma Centres, which are one-stop-shop citizen service centres that provide efficient Government Services at the convenience of the citizen, from a single location.

Through the assistance of the ICT Authority all 47 counties have ICT Roadmaps that are aligned to the National ICT Masterplan and the local county development plans. This supports counties to provide the best, most cost-effective ICT-enabled services and resources to its citizens. The roadmaps have also helped county governments to make ICT investments that are consistent with global best practice and with the idea of shared ICT services with the central government and neighbouring county ICT infrastructure. The key strategies identified in the implementation of the roadmaps include Infrastructure, Connectivity and Inter-operability; Human Capital and Workforce Development; Public Service Delivery; and Policy Environment and Legal Framework.