Current ICT Initiatives and projects - Republic of Kenya

There are a wide range of ICT Initiatives and projects ongoing in Kenya including the Laptop Programme, Digital Inclusion Projects (Pasha Centres/Digital Villages, Wezesha Initiative), Business Process Outsourcing, Local Content Programme (Tandaa Digital Content Grants, Open Data Portal), Information Security and Other Initiatives (Konza Technology Park, zero-rated taxes on imported ICT hardware, eGovernment, Skills Programmes).

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, PS Education, DG CCK) and is governed by a Board of Trustees assisted by a Management Board. It has 86 full Members and is the largest NREN in Africa after TENET in South Africa. It is currently 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. There are 115 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. During 2012 Inoorero University launched its Wireless LAN.

The network was built in cooperation with Government investments and the Government of Kenya has provided funds for necessary equipment. The Kenya ICT Board (now Kenya ICT Authority) 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 has a small infrastructure grant from Google and works 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 plans 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 will be 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 will now promote the use of official certificates by connected member institutions, not only for research but also for their ERPs and Cloud-based applications.

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 is to provide Internet access, e-government services and other e-services at the grassroots level via public-private partnerships.

Wezesha Initiative

The objective of this initiative is to provide a financial incentive towards purchasing a laptop for registered university students. The laptop initiative is funded by the World Bank and implemented by the Kenya ICT Board / ICT Authority under the Kenya Transparency and Communications Infrastructure Project (TCIP), as part of a component to implement the Computers for the Communities Initiative. This laptop initiative is known as 'Wezesha'; a Swahili word that means 'to enable'.

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 25% of Kenyans now have access to the internet, majority of whom access the internet through their mobile phone. As a result of this, the government has embarked on develop services and products to reach these millions of Kenyans through this new media.

Tandaa Digital Content Grant

Through the Kenya ICT Board / ICT Authority, the government launched a $4 million three-year grant program to support the development of local digital content. Grantees are selected through a Call for Proposal announced annually in June.

The Tandaa Local Digital Content Grant is a grant to provide seed funding for companies entering new media and ICT, to support Internet and mobile phone product and service delivery. Applicants should be Kenyan citizens over eighteen or companies/organisations registered in Kenya. Solutions can 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 21 companies (50,000 USD) and 8 individuals (10,000 USD) and one matching grant (150,000 USD) under the Second Round (2011/2012).

Kenya open data

Kenya is the first developing country to have an open government data portal, the first in sub-Saharan Africa and second on the continent after Morocco. The website is a user-friendly platform that allows for visualizations and downloads of the data and easy access for software developers. Kenya's information is a national asset, and this site is about sharing it. The goal of opendata.go.ke is 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. As of November 2011, there were close to 390 datasets that have been uploaded to the site, with a plan currently in place to upload more data over the next years.

Information Security

The Government through the Ministry of Information & Communication is working on the Kenya National Cyber security Framework. This is the Cyber security Masterplan that will provide the Government of Kenya (GoK) with a national-level plan to defend and secure its digital infrastructure, as well as recommend minimum cyber security standards for the country's private networks. The government is also in the procurement process for Implementation of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). This project will result in the set up of Root CA which will facilitate the use of digital certificates.

The government is building capacity for the Kenya Computer Incidence Response Team, Coordination Center (KE-CIRT/CC). The KE-CIRT/CC is critical in the coordination of computer related incidences in the country.

Other Initiatives

Konza Technology Park

As part of the Vision 2030 Flagship Programmes, the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Information and Communication aims to set up a technology park at Konza. This project commenced in 2009 with the procurement of a 5,000 acre site, 60kms south east of Nairobi. The ground breaking ceremony was held by H.E. Mawi Kibaki on 23 January 2013. It is anticipated that the first phase of Konza City will create over 17,000 direct and indirect jobs. It is planned that the Tech city will host a BPO park, Science park, Convention centre, mega mall, hotels, international schools, world class hospitals, Championships Golf Course, Financial District, High Speed Mass Transportation and Integrated Infrastructure.

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 Government is currently finalising the planning stage with the engagement of the Master Delivery Partner (MDP) to prepare a business plan and also prepare a detailed Local Physical Development Plan of phase one of the project. This will pave way for the commencement of construction work. The first phase will involve construction of BPO Park, Science Park, Residential Buildings, data Centre and part of Central business District. The legal notice on the establishment of Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KOTDA) and the board were gazetted and operationalised.

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 is currently holding negotiations 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 will also promote 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.

eGovernment

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. It has since committed itself towards achieving an effective and operational e-Government to facilitate better and efficient delivery of information and services to the citizens, promote productivity among public servants, encourage participation of citizens in Government and empower all Kenyans.

Some of the key online services available through the e-government initiative include:

- Application of public service jobs online

- Tacking statutes of ID and passports

- Exam results and candidate selection

- Submission of tax returns

- Custom services

- Reporting of Corruption

- Business licensing e-registry

Other ongoing e-government projects include:

- Government shared services

- Government Data Centre

- Community Learning Information Centres

- County connectivity project

- Interactive Voice Response System

- Government unified messaging system

- Capacity building

Skills Programmes

In terms of Skills Programs, Kenya ICT Board (now ICT Authority) is working with Carnegie Mellon University to secure certification for software developers. Kenya ICT Board in cooperation with Carnegie Mellon University offered 50 Kenyan developers the opportunity to participate in a six-hour exam that would lead to a Software Developer Certification. The test incorporates writing, compiling, debugging and testing software to demonstrate abilities. This pilot test was undertaken free of charge on 19 December 2012 at the University of Nairobi, School of computing and Informatics.

On 24 January 2013, the Kenya ICT Board (now 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.

Laptop Programmes

The Government of Kenya will roll-out a laptop programme estimated to cost KES. 53 billion spread over the next three years. The programme will include infrastructure (energy, security and connectivity), devices, content and building capacity of teachers. The laptop programme will be enhancing integration of ICT into teaching and learning with the relevant content for every school age child. There are over 20,307 public primary schools with a total enrolment of 9.97 million learners and 1,378,622 expected to have joined standard one in January 2014. The current state of e-readiness status in Primary schools is poor, with a personal computer to pupil ratio of 1:1,000.

An institutional framework has been created to address ICT integration in education. Two specialised units have been created: the ICT for Education (ICT4E) to spearhead the pedagogical use of ICT, while the National ICT innovation and Integration Centre is to carry out the testing of technical solutions submitted for consideration by firms in order to establish their appropriateness and use in curriculum delivery.