Africa: President Kenyatta Unveils Digital Economy Blueprint

President Paul Kagame, and his counterparts Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya (left), and Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta of Mali pose with copies of Kenyan government’s ‘Digital Economy Blueprint’ on the first day of the 5th Transform Africa Summit in Kigali.

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya on Wednesday unveiled a blueprint for his country's digital economy, which he said could be a guiding tool for the adoption of digital technologies for Africa's transformation.

"It is intended as a framework to guide us as we accelerate the adoption of digital technologies. I hope all countries will find value in contextualising this framework to their specific ecosystems so as to realise the full potential of our digital transformation," the President noted as he launched the blueprint at the Transform Africa Summit in Kigali.

The blueprint highlights five pillars for the development of a digital economy, basically the entirety of sectors that operate using digitally-enabled communications and networks leveraging internet, mobile and other technologies.

Digital economy is the main focus of this year's edition of Transform Africa Summit underway at Kigali Convention Centre.

The first pillar is the digital infrastructure, and the availability of affordable, accessible, resilient and reliable internet, the Kenyan leader said.

Kenyatta said providing affordable internet connectivity for African businesses and households is critical to unlock the potential of digital economy, and that establishing digital infrastructure will just enable that.

He said he believes connectivity needs to reach a certain threshold in order for users to access digital services.

"In Kenya, the number of active internet and data subscriptions stood at 42.2 million in 2018, broadband covers more than 45 per cent of the total population and virtually the entire country is linked to the national optic fibre," he said.

The second pillar is the digital government, which describes the need for the presence and use of digital services and platforms to enable public service delivery.

It puts emphasis on the adoption of basic services that serve as one-stop centre for citizens like birth certificates, application for passport, national identity cards, and registration of businesses, among others.

The third pillar is digital business, which highlights the role of creating an enabling environment for developers and entrepreneurs to operate on e-platforms.

The Kenyan President indicated that achieving this specific pillar requires continuous review of laws and regulations.

"The growth of e-commerce, has actually, in Kenya, been underlined by the success of mobile money payments and platforms such as M-Pesa. Without the ability to pay remotely through digital channels, it would be difficult to conduct economic business," Kenyatta said.

The fourth pillar is innovation-driven entrepreneurship - the presence of the ecosystem that supports home-grown firms to generate world class products and services.

This helps in widening and deepening of digital economic transformation.

The final pillar focuses on digital skills and values - critical to digital entrepreneurship, digital adoption and transformation and successful conceptualisation and implementation of digitised projects in public and private sector.

"In Kenya, we have invested heavily in preparing the people for a digital economy through various skills development initiatives, most notably is digital learning programme which we initiated in 2013," Kenyatta noted.

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