Speaker Wetangula calls for more USA support to spur ICT growth, employment

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula with American Ambassador to Kenya Margret Whitman. [Courtesy]

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula has called for increased developmental support from the United States of America to foster growth in the ICT industry and create employment opportunities for youth.

Wetangula yesterday hosted American Ambassador to Kenya Margret Whitman in his office at Parliament buildings, where he rooted for enhanced cooperation with America to boost the Silicon Savanna agenda.

Amidst a battered economy, unemployment and a surging cost of living, the speaker noted that efforts by the government to boost the Information Communication and Technology sector through partnerships with development partners, such as the USA, will go a long way in ensuring the growth of technology and innovation ecosystem.

A move, he said, would not only spur economic growth but also serve the needs of the young and unemployed.

“Parliament will strive to come up with legislations that will support the government's agenda on ICT and innovation growth. We appreciate the support the project is receiving from the US government, but there is a need to up the partnership to enable the Kenyan government to realize the dream,” said Wetangula.

“President William Ruto has stated clearly his agenda of putting Kenya on the global map on matters to do with ICT and innovation, and America is one of the top countries in the world in technological and Innovation development,” he added.

To capitalize on the mutual interests and values of both countries, the Speaker promised to safeguard the cooperation for the benefit of Kenyans.

"I acknowledge the contribution by the USA as Kenya's premier partner, being the largest destination for the country's export and the third highest development partner after World Bank and the European Union," he noted.

Envoy Whitman expressed commitment by USA to supporting development programs already implemented in the country with the end goal being to lift the living standards of citizens.

"I thank the Speaker for hosting me for this important meeting. We will continue to engage with a view of opening more dates for opportunities for Kenyans," she added.

This comes a day after ICT cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo announced plans by the government to roll out the first batch of locally assembled smartphones in the next two months. The phones will retail for Sh5,484 and are aimed at fostering digital access and inclusion.

The CS explained that the affordability of smartphones had been a major stumbling block in the bid to ensure digital inclusion by the Kenya Kwanza administration, which also necessitated the local production of smartphones.

The smartphones are being assembled at Konza City Technopolis, Machakos County.