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Kenya ICT sector merger to come with huge benefits for consumers

NEWS
By By FRANKLINE SUNDAY | August 19th 2013

By FRANKLINE SUNDAY

Kenya’s private sector and technology users are the biggest winners in a move by the Government to change the administrative structure of the country’s ICT industry.

The ministry of Information, Communication and Technology last week announced the amalgamation of three key departments to form the Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA).

The authority will now co-ordinate the sector and spearhead the country’s ICT projects.

Project implementation

The authorities absorbed into ICTA include the Kenya ICT Board, the Directorate of e-Government and the Government Information Technology Services (GITS).

“The authority will rationalise and streamline the management of all State ICT institutions and advice the Government on sectorial development, ICT project implementation and investment,” said ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi.

In a statement to newsrooms, Matiangi said the authority would be in place in a month’s time and will enforce standards and supervise electronic communications.

“Our objective is to standardise and procedurise e-Government communication services,” he said. “Already, a steering committee has been formed to re-structure and re-brand Government websites to promote a positive image.”

The move by the State comes after criticism both from the public and private sector about duplication of roles in the now dissolved departments.

“The move to amalgamate ICT bodies has been a long time coming. This  because in the past there have been complaints about an overlap in ICT administrative functions,” said Moses Kemibaro, founder and strategic advisor at Dotsavvy, an Internet solutions firm.

Kemibaro, who has had a prominent presence in Kenya’s mobile and Internet marketing sector for more than 15 years, said the lack of a unitary voice from the numerous ICT organs in the sector often worked to the disadvantage of the sector.

“There were cases of several organs being involved in parallel projects that have similar objectives. In the process, other important projects were sometimes left undone because it was not clear whose responsibility it was to execute them,” he said.

This ambiguity often led to longer implementation periods for crucial ICT projects and higher bills for taxpayers. 

Investor confidence

Samuel Gichuru, the co-founder of Nailab, one of the pioneer tech hubs in the country, added that a leaner and more defined administrative structure to champion technology policy will boost investor confidence.

“At some point, we did not know who was doing what. It’s good to have one oversight body handle Kenya’s ICT policy,” he said.

Gichuru observed that some of the ICT authorities meant for dissolution had an active level of engagement with the private sector that he hopes will be maintained by ICTA.

“The level of interaction we got from officials such as Paul Kokubo and Bitange Ndemo on Twitter and in technology meet-ups and pitching events contributed a lot to the growth of the sector,” he said. “A lot was accomplished through this partnership.”


 

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