Digital Economy Strategy highlights

September 4, 2020 - 5 minutes read

The Ministry of ICT (MoICT) has released the draft Digital Economy Strategy which focuses on six pillars:-

  • Digital Government
  • Digital Business
  • Infrastructure
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Digital Skills and Values 
  • Digital Inclusion

The strategy has the following cross cutting themes 

  • An Integrated Ecosystem
  • Data
  • Emerging Trends
  • Green ICT
  • Security 
  • Policy and Regulatory Framework

The digital economy strategy is aimed at providing leverage to Kenya’s National ICT Policy (2020) as well as Kenya’s Digital Economy Blueprint for Africa, Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the Big Four Agenda. The rationale for the strategy sets out the benefits of a digital economy as having the potential to transform the economy and create employment. The strategy takes cognizance of the risks that may be created by the growth of the digital economy including exclusion and inequality of those without access to digital opportunities as well as cybersecurity risks. The strategy also highlights the risk of concentration of market power as well as consumer protection and data privacy risks. The report mentions negative aspects of the digital economy including digital lending apps and mobile gambling. 

The contribution of digitization in flattening the covid-19 curve is also highlighted with potential benefits in the seamless provision of government services, online work as well as digital education. The digital divide is however listed as major hindrance to the gains of digitization as there is a likelihood of inequality for those who lack access to digital platforms. 

Areas of concern:-

  1. There is a proposed integration of a national payment gateway system. There is no clarity how the role private sector shall play in this, Kenya has highly developed and deeply penetrative private sector led payment platforms that greatly support the support the economy, it will be important to include these into the proposed framework. 
  2. In the infrastructure section of the strategy document there is a recommendation to encourage the hosting of networks and cloud sources of digital economy platforms within in-country datacenters. Kenya is a part of the global digital economy and the reality is that that cross border data flows are the lifeline of the digital economy. There is a need from a policy perspective to ensure cross border data flows as long as there are corresponding data protection regulations. 
  3. There are focus areas listed under each pillar, in the final version of the document it would be useful if each focus area is linked the listed initiatives for coherence. 
  4. On digital skills the strategy should include a framework that engages the private sector and academia to ensure that the right skills required in the digital economy are developed and utilized. 

The table below highlights the various initiatives under the Digital Economy Strategy as well as the focus area and highlights of proposed initiatives 

1.Digital Government Pillar 
To expand access to innovative user-centric public services encourages and enables Kenyans to transact, access government services and information, as well as exchange data over digital platforms. This pillar also strives to ensure that government is inter-connected and ICT- enabled thus steering it away from manual processes
Focus Areas Integrated front-end and back-end government systems. Centralized data infrastructure/sources for enhanced government planning and enhanced efficiency in service delivery. Expanded e-government services. Enhanced transparency and accountability in public service delivery through ICT. 
Specific Initiatives Established and Integrated Government through ICT: -‘Huduma Namba’ (Digital ID)Transport information managementMovable property registryAsset tagging/tracking for movable assets payroll administrationSupply chain management Revenue administration systems at national and county levelsNational addressing system; National payment gateway system (including digital payment portal/platform);Common single window system,Public health services management,Investors portal and registry systemHousing management and county reporting systemSmart ID for livestock;National Integrated Identity Management SystemTransport Information Management,Integrated Payroll System in counties.E-Citizen portal enhancementOnline registries for companies, investors, land registration.    
Expanded e-government services. Integration of mobile applications and government portals and will target to have all services online. Key e-Government services to be developed :-Land-related transactionsPublic health servicesCompany and organization registries, Common commodities exchange portalElectronic open auction portalEnd to end e-procurement portal and system for government. 
A citizen centric government Promotion of citizen participation in government business through automation and digitization of government processes and systems Use of emerging technologies in governmentPromoting transparency in delivery of its services to all citizens, Use of ICT to enhance its accountability in appropriation of public resources
2.Digital Business Pillar 
To develop a robust digital market characterized by increased quality of financial inclusion, fair competition, resilient data infrastructure, advanced consumer protection and greater regional integration across 3 focus areas namely, Digital Trade, Digital Financial Services and Digital Content.
Focus Areas Digital Trade.Digital Financial Services. Digital Content. 
Specific Initiatives Drive the uptake of e-commerce to create opportunities
Increase innovation, interoperability and inclusivity of digital financial services Promotion of interoperability and integration of customer-centric and world-class payment systems nationally, regionally and globally to encourage cross-border trade and services.Improving access to a wide range of digital financial services such as insurance, loans, pensions, investments and further supporting efficient credit information sharing
Unlock the potential of Kenya’s digital creative economy
3.Infrastructure Pillar 
To improve connectivity access of both physical and digital infrastructure so as to leverage digital technologies to create new markets and innovative services.
Focus Areas Robust ICT infrastructure and Connectivity.  Devices. Data Standards. Logistics infrastructure.Integrated ICT infrastructure development
Specific Initiatives Bridging gaps in broadband access and connectivityExpanded coverage of the National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure while private sector encouraged to increase last mile connectivity.Expanded Digital Literacy Program (DLP) for primary schools and hopefully increased uptake of locally assembled ICT manufactured devices used by learners.Allocation and effective management of spectrum resourcesIncreased efforts towards standardizing the affordable digital devicesSupport local assembly of end user devices
4.Innovation Driven Entrepreneurship Pillar 
To prepare the entrepreneurship ecosystem to capitalize on gains in the world of tomorrow by creating an industry-appropriate digitally skilled talent pool, engaging key stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, and reforming the business environment
Focus Areas Efficiency gains in the innovation system through collaborative mechanisms.  SME multiplier effects afforded by the application of technology.Fostering an entrepreneurial spirit in innovators both within formal education and within the society to turn ideas into scalable and sustainable businesses. Increased availability of seed capital, angel investment, venture capital, to provide capital for research and development and for investments. Fiscal and other incentives (including subsidies and waivers), for ICT-centric local innovations for companies involved in production of digital products. Support for business models that leverage on both open access and intellectual property systems. Strengthened incubators and accelerators for innovation.
Specific Initiatives Developing and spearheading a National Unicorn ProjectDevelopment of a National Innovation FrameworkDeveloping a local digital market place Leverage on existing partnerships and creating new engagementsLeverage on both open access and intellectual property systems-Science Technology Parks Collaborative Research and Development
5. Digital Skills and Values 
To create an enabling climate for digital skills development
Focus Areas Basic SkillsIntermediate Skills Advanced Skills 
Specific Initiatives Equip all citizens with the skills to discover, acquire and use digital goods and services available for them through integrating digital skills curriculum in the education system at all levels and sensitizing all citizens on the benefits of acquiring digital skills. Sensitize all citizens on the benefits of digital skills and their application in the digital economy. Sensitize citizens on digital skills and responsible online behavior to enable them to be active and successful participants in the digital society and raise  awareness of risks in terms of digital rights and subsequent responsibilities, online safety and security.
6. Digital Inclusion 
Youth 
Focus Areas Establish an Inclusive ICT Development Ecosystem.Revise or Establish Existing Legal Framework to Support Youth Participation in the Digital Economy.
Specific Initiatives Invest in the youth Provide an enabling legal environment for the youth to participate in the Digital EconomyEncourage digitization of companies 
People with Disabilities 
Focus Areas Leadership and governance. Connectivity and devices. Inclusivity.
Specific Initiatives Establish ICT Facilitates and Expand ConnectivityEstablish standards and guidelines for communication services and providers  Establish a framework for talent identification  Policies
Women 
   Create an enabling environment that supports women in the innovation space and ensure their safety. Increasing the number of women in key leadership positions in the ICT sector.  Advancing digital inclusion for women.
 Empowerment of women for digital inclusion   Provide an enabling environment for safety of women
7.Cross Cutting Issues  
To design and implement policy and institutional reforms that promote the growth of a sustainable digital economy.
Focus Areas Data Access and Management.New and Emerging Technologies. Security. Intellectual Property.Digital leadership.   
Data Access and ManagementEarly adoption of New and Emerging Technology  Fostering Green ICTSecurityIntellectual PropertyIntellectual Property
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