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State to install digital assets to equip youth with critical skills

 ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo takes Calvins Miheso, a Form 4 student at Maseno School through a computer routine as he opened Computer laboratory at the school on July 5, 2023. [Michael Mute, Standard]

The government has intensified installation of critical infrastructure to support a digital economy across the country.

According to Information Communication Technology Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo, the government has adopted a multi-faceted approach to revamping the digital economy through massive investments in infrastructure and policies.

Speaking after launching digital laboratories at Maseno School and Maseno University yesterday, the CS said the government is fast-tracking the Critical Infrastructure Bill.

The objective of the Bill is to provide a framework for establishment of the Critical Infrastructure Unit, to protect vital installations, coordinate and strengthen existing government ministries and state departments and agencies.

Through the Bill, the government hopes to establish a vibrant digital economy as part of a wider strategy to transform living standards.

Mr Owalo said the Bill recognises that critical infrastructure assets are essential to provision of vital services for social and economic well-being, and which if destroyed, degraded or rendered unavailable, would impact on growth.

"Vandalism on critical infrastructure, including but not limited to power lines, substations, off-grid generation stations, repeater stations, data centres, roads and related infrastructure, information, communications and technology sector installations, security facilities and oil pipeline infrastructure call for scaling up of efforts and goodwill towards passing the pending Bill into law," he said.

Protect infrastructure

The CS noted that protection of the infrastructure is critical in ensuring seamless operations around the country.

"Effectively securing the country's critical infrastructure will move us toward the national development goals of the Kenya Kwanza government of transforming Kenya into a digital economy," he said.

Owalo said the digital programme will benefit at least a million youth annually. He said the government is establishing digital laboratories in all counties to enable students and the youth to acquire digital skills and secure local and international job opportunities.

He lauded the platforms as a solution to unemployment among the youth.

With formal employment becoming a challenge, the CS said, the digital programme would widen opportunities of the youth who acquire new skills, in accessing the job market.

Absorb graduates

"We are targeting to produce at least one million youth each year, who are skilled with digital technologies and we are also reaching out to international digital companies to absorb the graduates," said Owalo.

He was accompanied by Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo, South Suba MP Karoli Omondi and Nyanza Regional Director of Education Nelson Sifuna alongside Maseno educationists.

To achieve the digital goal, Owalo said the government had rolled out a digital superhighway targeting 100,000km with fibre optic cable for Kenyans to access reliable and stable internet.

"We are not rolling out a digital skilling programme but it is part and parcel of the digital superhighway, which has digital skills and infrastructure," said Owalo.

Apart from the digital superhighway, Owalo said 25,000 free WiFi hotspots in markets across the country will enable Kenyans at the bottom of the pyramid access free internet.

Digital platform

Under the digital platforms, the youth can earn up to Sh200,000 working at home for international institutions.

"Due to scarce formal jobs, the digital platforms present a solution to unemployment. They can work from their homes and earn good money," he said.

While the youth undergo digital skilling, the government will negotiate with international digital companies to recruit them.

"The most available jobs in the world are in digital and the government is committed to supporting the youth with digital technologies," he said.

Owalo also launched a digital laboratory at St Mary's School Yala.

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