The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted many developing countries to hastily build reliable ICT infrastructure, a move that is seeing demand for the broadband spike in the past two years as providers are pushed to maintain optimum services.
The demand has been across the board driven by the individuals streaming entertainment, government and private sector personnel working from home, and State agencies digitizing their processes and records to comply with new public service guidelines.
The Kenya National Digital Master Plan 2022 launched recently comes at an opportune time as policymakers and private sector leaders seek to establish a strategy on how to grow the country’s ICT sector into the next decade.
Digital infrastructure is at the heart of the strategy and forms the bulk of resource allocations in the 10-year plan.
Between 2022 and 2032, the Ministry of ICT has projected to invest Kes400 billion in building infrastructures such as fiber cables, data centers, and community networks.
This is expected to significantly boost the country’s broadband capacity and connectivity, turning it into one of the best in the region.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) have identified Kenya as one of the six countries in Africa classified as high innovation achievers.
“Of the six countries that the WEF 2019 Global Competitiveness Ranking identified as doing best in terms of competitiveness, the top four are also the countries with the highest income levels in the region: Mauritius, South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia,” ITU notes in its latest report on the region.
“Kenya and Rwanda—both innovation achievers and arguably the countries in the region which have made the most difference in the global innovation landscape in recent years—are lower-middle and low-income countries respectively,” explains ITU.
According to the UN telecommunications body, the data backs the belief that consistent investment in innovation by developing countries could easily give rise to a development trajectory leading to prosperity.
Over the past decade, Kenya has invested in innovation in ICT mainly driven by the private sector and funded by foreign venture capital.
However, gaps remain and these have dampened the overall performance and ranking in the industry relative to other similar-sized economies.
According to the ITU, Kenya ranks 77th out of 129 economies globally in the Global Innovation Index, a ranking classified under insufficient performance.
The country also performs poorly in the Global Competitive Index (95/141) and the Global Entrepreneurship Index (109/137).
“Most countries in the region have underperforming engines of growth; translating to gaps in performance when it comes to their ICT-centric innovation ecosystems,” explains ITU.
One of these underperforming engines is in infrastructure where only a fraction of Kenya’s populated landmass is connected by high-speed broadband.
The infrastructure pillar under the ICT master plan will see the government work with private sector players to install 100,000km of fiber optic cables across the country.
The private sector is on the other hand already gearing up to deploy resources to meet their share of the ambitious development agenda.
Earlier this month, Amazon Web Services announced plans to launch an AWS Local Zone in Kenya, joining 16 existing ones across the US and an additional 32 that are scheduled for launch in 26 countries globally.
AWS Local Zones deliver single-digit millisecond latency performance at the edge of the cloud to millions of people worldwide.
This also means customers in Kenya will not need to incur the expense and effort of procuring, operating, and maintaining infrastructure in Nairobi to support low-latency applications.
In its deployment, AWS will lean on its recently announced strategic partnership with Safaricom Plc to roll out services across East Africa.
As a premium reseller of AWS Enterprise solutions, Safaricom supports clients across the region to grow businesses through leveraging the depth and breadth of AWS Cloud Services that provide easy access to emerging technologies such as Big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
The telco has over 130 AWS accredited staff and 35 certified professionals, who assist clients migrate to the cloud to maintain their infrastructure and security at an affordable cost.