CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

Kenya: ICT Firms to Showcase Latest Innovations At Digital Fair

ICT stakeholders are set for a major digital exposition, aimed at bridging the huge gap between the rate of innovations and their adoption, which threatens the fast developing local industry.

The Digital Fair - themed Powering the Digital Future - will take place from March 7 to 9 at Sarit Centre in Nairobi. It will offer the public a chance to learn technological capabilities of various companies and latest digital trends.

The fair will also act as a platform for researchers, learning institutions, the business network and regulators to share experiences and reflect on expected impact of the evolving digital technology. Organizations that will participate at the fair include the ICT Authority, Safaricom, Google, Tecno, CIO East Africa, the Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK), The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Scarlet Digital, Najivunia.com, WASP Africa, Niaje and the Text Book

Centre.

Others are Squad Digital, Nailab, the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE), Media Eye, Laugh Industry, Tecno and Ona TV. Organizers of the fair, Eyeballs Marketing, say although there has been a high growth in applications development, their benefits are yet to penetrate the economy due to lack of awareness and limited access among Kenyans.

Poor consumer culture and inappropriateness of some of the innovations have also been cited as barriers to their adoption, especially among the poor. "Digital technologies can only impact the lives of individuals in the society if they offer appropriate solutions to problems and are easily available for use at affordable prices," says Eyeballs Marketing CEO, Martin Muli.

A recent study on digital applications found that the uptake of mobile phone-based applications, for example, has been disappointingly low, especially among poor households which they are intended for.

It reveals that up-scaling the use of mobile applications has been slow because the development of applications is not informed by thorough research on the problem space and possible solutions.

The study titled, The Gap between Mobile Application Developers and Poor Consumers: Lessons from Kenya was undertaken by Tonny Omwansa, Timothy Waema (University of Nairobi) and Angela Crandall of ihub. It was released in December last year.

The researchers also note that most developers of mobile applications lack the financial and social capital to market their solutions. Consequently, there is limited awareness of these applications amongst BoP users for upscaling to take place.

"Most applications do not reach the stage for financial sustainability, especially given the low purchasing power of users at the BoP and their sensitivity to cost," reads part of the findings of

the study.

Muli says the promotion of ICT agenda in the country is being hampered by lack of sensitization and awareness hence the need for the Digital Fair, which is the first of its kind in Kenya. It will have two levels of exhibition, the business digital fair and the digital future fair.

The business digital fair will be for businesses to display and show case unique and superior technologies that are in use to enhance the customer experience.

"The business digital fair booths will strictly comprise of businesses, both corporate and SME, and will offer them a chance to provide a full digital experience to the public as well as generate

business leads," explains Muli.

Exhibitors under the first level will include hotels, media houses, PR and advertising firms, learning institutions, government bodies, telecommunication companies, foreign companies, technology firms and businesses in lifestyle products, which will illustrate their IT

capabilities.

At the digital future fair, different techies and organizations will present solutions that can positively improve the lives of Kenyans. These solutions will be presented to key decision makers in Government and corporate sectors who have the capacity to engage techies and

adopt the digital solutions.

The experts will be expected to tackle ideas on the future of digital technology in areas like disaster management, healthcare, agriculture, management and governance, security and public transport.

In a bid to boost the adoption of digital technologies, the Government launched a Broadband Strategy last year to streamline the ICT sector. The strategy provides a roadmap to transform Kenya into a knowledge-based society driven by a reliable high-capacity nationwide

broadband network.

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