President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday said the country has huge potential and numerous opportunities to grow its digital economy.
Speaking during the ongoing Africa-European Union (EU) High Level Forum in Vienna, Austria, President Kenyatta reiterated that Kenya’s recent milestones in the digital space; especially in the development and deployment of disruptive applications, provide a good backbone for the growth of the digital economy in the country.
“Kenya has managed to record impressive progress in e-commerce especially in areas such as mobile banking and e-government. Some of the breakthroughs are in sectors such as agriculture, health and money transfer,” President Kenyatta said.
The President cited MPESA which has significantly improved financial inclusion in Kenya and in the eastern Africa region as an indication of the digital potential that the country holds.
Besides the financial sector, President Kenyatta insisted that Kenya has made remarkable progress in the infusion of ICT technology in the delivery of health services.
“In recently celebrated cases, hospitals in Kenya now have the capability of undertaking complicated medical procedures using the internet,” President Kenyatta pointed out.
Other areas that have benefited from digitization include the retail sector where increased penetration of broadband internet has resulted in booming online retail businesses.
In agriculture, the President said digitalization has transformed the lives of farmers and others in the value chain by providing near real time agricultural and market information.
“Information from markets and payments are easily channeled to the farmers,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta similarly underscored the importance of creating a conducive environment for the private sector to thrive so as to create much needed jobs and wealth for the population.
The President emphasized that both European and African governments need to put in place an enabling environment that enables businesses to plan ahead with certainty.
“There is need for strong macroeconomic framework focusing on predicable policies, formalization of informal sector activities, addressing information asymmetries on existing investment opportunities, delimiting communication challenges and deepening reforms that reduce investment risks,” the Head of State said.
The Head of State also urged the public sector policy makers to develop legal, political and regulatory mechanisms that support efficient and effective service delivery and which ultimately support the initiatives of the private sector.
The President singled out quality, reliable and resilient infrastructure as a key enabler for investment decisions.
To prepare the youth well for the job opportunities in the private sector, President Kenyatta expressed the need to have in place commensurate education curriculum that links education institutions with the labour market demands as well as investing more in technical and vocational training especially among the post school population.
“There is need to enhance the education system to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education courses as a foundation for trade,” he said.