Report: Poor implementation hindering Kenya's digital transformation

Class one pupils from Getembe Primary school in Kisii township follow instructions from their ICT teacher during a pilot programme of familiarization exercise with the tablets in 2016. [File, Standard]

Shortage of advanced skills and poor leadership continue to be cited as standing in the way of Kenya becoming a fully-fledged digital economy in the next 10 years, a new report says.

The ‘Kenya Digital Readiness: A journey Towards Human-Centred Digitalisation’ report says that despite there being clear roadmaps in place as laid out in the Digital Economy Blueprint, the National ICT Policy and the recently launched Kenya National Digital  Master Plan 2022-2032, lack of proper implementation stands in the way of the country becoming the desired Silicon Savannah.

The report analyses the digital readiness of the public sector. It offers suggestions for improvement in some 10 digital focus areas including financing, the legal framework, digital skills as well as digital infrastructure.

The study was carried out in June 2022 by the government of Estonia in collaboration with the German government and the European Union. The report was released on October 17. “The new National Digital Master Plan is comprehensive and sets clear objectives to be achieved,” it says.

“However, the question remains on how to build an ecosystem that effectively supports the implementation of the master plan in terms of organisation, digital skills, financing, legal framework, digital infrastructure and other aspects.” The study recommends the establishment of a high-level digital council domiciled at the Office of the President and headed by the Chief Information Officer (CIO).

“The tasks of the State CIO could include, for example, leading the work of the high-level digital council, and contributing to international cooperation activities in the field of ICT,” the report says.

It says the ICT ministry should have a key role in the evaluation and approval of ICT projects submitted for funding.

“The budgeting process of government institutions must be transparent and performed electronically, if possible,” it noted. The country also ranked in position 116 out of 193 countries in the UN e-government Development Index 2020.