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State targets 3.5m jobs in software industries, SMEs

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The government plans to leverage e-commerce and startups to drive employment opportunities for up to 3.5 million youth by 2027.

Through the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy; startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be banked on to provide solutions to the government.

This is in line with the government’s plan of increasing access to its digital services as outlined in the Ministry’s 2023-2027 strategic plan.

 “Leverage local startups and MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) to develop government solutions,” reads the strategies documented in the Ministry’s implementation plan.

This leverage on local startups and SMEs will see 100 per cent solutions powered by SMEs by the end of the strategic plan.

It is the reason why Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) and local content have prominently featured in the strategic plan. This is one of the seven key result areas in the plan that is directly linked to improving the digital economy and e-commerce as a goal, which was informed by the need for digital jobs and local content development.

In the plan’s ninth strategic objective, the ministry seeks to facilitate the development of IT-enabled services to increase employment opportunities for the youth.

The plan has listed digital jobs and local content development as one of the seven strategic issues. “The country suffers from serious unemployment, especially among the youth,” the plan states in part.

Local content

The goal of this strategic issue informed by unemployment is to improve the digital economy and e-commerce. The key result area of this strategic issue is the creation of BPOs or IT-enabled services and local content.

The ministry says the facilitation of IT-enabled services will lead to increased employment opportunities for the youth through ICT.  By the end of the fifth year of the strategic plan, the ministry projects to have connected 3.5 million youth to online jobs. The first-year target is 1.5 million.

This goal will have the ministry develop a smart city, establish digital hubs, promote local ICT manufacturing and software industries, digitise and commercialise local content, promote e-commerce and logistics and undertake research and create innovations in the field of applications and content development.

On the strategic goal to improve the digital economy and e-commerce whose objective is to facilitate the development of the IT-enabled services, the ministry targets four manufacturing plants in the strategic plan period.

The establishment of digital hubs is expected to connect 600,000 youth to online jobs. The ministry targets to have 1,450 such hubs by the end of the strategic plan.

The key result area of BPOs IT-enabled services and local content development will require up to Sh76.7 billion across five years.

The plan requires a budget of Sh419 billion with the National Treasury being the major source of these funds. “The ministry is a projected allocation of Sh168.3 billion against a requirement of Sh419.9 billion representing a resource gap of Sh251.6 billion,” the plan states.

The ministry documents that in the previous strategic plan (2018-2022), to access online and digitally-enabled jobs, the ministry targeted to train and link 240,000 youth to online jobs.

“Out of these, 91,615 were trained through the programme including 2,000 in remote areas using the Digi-truck project. The project has enabled 1,942,609 youths to access online and digitally-enabled jobs,” it adds.

The plan states the State is committed to transforming the MSMEs sector by ending the criminalisation of work, reviewing and rationalising business, increasing access to finance, developing infrastructure and capacity building.

“The ministry will facilitate implementation of Kenya’s e-commerce strategy and enhance information and knowledge management of MSMEs,” says the ministry in the plan.

“Further, it will engage in the production and dissemination of media programmes in collaboration with stakeholders on initiatives promoting MSME.”

The ministry is also implementing One Network Area (ONA) to reduce data and call charges across borders and extension of fibre across the country to increase internet access. “The ministry will also increase access to finance through digital finance,” it states.

ICT and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo terms MSMEs manufacturing, as one of the government’s major goals of transforming the country into a digitalised knowledge-based economy.

“As an enabler, ICT has contributed immensely to improvement in e-government services, e-business, e-commerce, entrepreneurship and digital skills and enhancing the market competitiveness of the country’s products and services,” says the CS in the plan.

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