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Youth: Here are our local solutions

By Allan Mungai | October 17th 2020

President Uhuru Kenyatta hands Deputy William Ruto a gun made in Kenya by innovative youths who demonstrated multi agency projects to the head of state during his visit at the KWS Law Enforcement Academy in Manyani on October 16, 2020. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Young technology enthusiasts yesterday got a chance to showcase innovations set to provide local solutions across various sectors.

From rifles to drones and other types of software, the exhibition in Manyani, Taita Taveta County, revealed the country’s ambition to develop its own equipment that will have a wide implication in, among other things, policing and the management of evidence.

The exhibition under the theme ‘For Kenya By Kenyans’ was held against the backdrop of a Cabinet retreat held at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Law Enforcement Academy in Manyani.

It featured geospatial, airborne, geophysical, cyber and national security industrialisation projects.

President Uhuru Kenyatta commended the youth for taking the lead in technological developments that will transform the country.

He said he was confident that through the youth’s innovations, the country will achieve its goal of digitising the economy, society and government and create a transparent system for an efficient service delivery.

“By this time next year, when all our geospatial maps are done and we have finished the work of mapping the underground resources that Kenya has and when we continue to roll out the digital platforms, Kenya will never be the same again,” he said.

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Extra-ordinary session

The systems showcased to President Kenyatta by groups of youth from various government incubators will have implications in the management of land, internal security and defense, and on revenue collection.

Earlier yesterday, a dispatch from the Cabinet noted that the extra-ordinary session received the report on the state of national security, nationhood and territorial integrity.

“The ground breaking report covered a wide range of issues, including national cyber projects, geospatial surveys and airborne geophysical projects, the National Integrated Information Management System (NIIMS) programme — Huduma Namba initiative — and the national security industrialisation project,” said the dispatch.

The statement noted that the Cabinet also addressed other areas of national security concerns and strategic national interest.

It noted that that the vigilance of and interventions by the national security organs are tipped to ensure Kenya remains a safe and secure nation.

The group of exhibitors, comprising computer and geospatial engineers, had been in Manyani for two weeks and yesterday, they showcased equipment they had built and platforms they had developed towards securing the country.

Among what was exhibited was an assault rifle developed and manufactured locally, and surveillance drones.

There were also innovations on the Kenya National Spatial Data Infrastructure, Nairobi Revenue System, facilities mapping and digitisation of land parcel data to create a land information system.

They are expected to monitor land transactions and reduce the instances of fraud.

Others were the National Land Management Information System, which manages and processes land data and transactions and the Talking Drum, Kenya’s own social media platform.

Big Blue, a platform for security agencies to effectively analyse large quantities of data, was also on display, as was Imani, a system to manage evidence, especially for cases that take a long time to prosecute.

Faini, a system that automates minor offence booking, was also on show.

The national addressing system, which will map all buildings to give them an identity, will be vital in growing e-commerce, and help to guide emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines.

Taifa Pay, a government-owned revenue management system, shows realtime payments being made to the government.

Another was a mobile application that will direct police officers and fire fighters to specific residences.

The Nairobi Revenue System will be integrated with other government systems, KRA and NTSA.

It will be able to tell how much money Nairobi is making at a particular time, the number and the types of vehicles parked in the city and even the traffic flow per hour.

The projects are created using local resources with an aim of solving security challenges.

A number of the platforms are already being applied, such as the digital OB and the Nairobi Mapping.

Kenyatta said he had hosted the young people so that the country could tap into their innovations rather than always look to the outside world.

“It is our responsibility to first look inward for anything we need to do, develop capacity from within. Let us look within our borders, not always look out there and see which contract I am going to give China, America, UK...”

While lauding the youth as an asset to the country, the president said there was need to nurture their talent because they were the ones who will create jobs for others.

Commercial value

“Kenya’s best kept asset and secret are the youth who use technology to create ideas which have commercial value. The young people come from every corner of this country,” he said.

The president said contrary to the view held by some people, the government is not using foreign firms to work on some of its key projects such as Huduma Namba and last year’s population census.

“...We even have countries from all over Africa and Europe wanting to know how we managed to develop that system,” the president said in reference to the 2019 population census.

Kenyatta said the youth have for the first time in the region done the mapping of resources that are in the country using only 10 per cent of the Sh30 billion that a foreign company had asked for to do the same job.

Deputy President William Ruto said the multi-agency approach exhibited by the youth during their training shows that with synergy, no task is too hard to undertake.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru cited 353 Ajira youth employment centres across the country as one of the success stories of the president’s commitment to give youth opportunities to participate in nation-building through digital innovations.

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