Kenya should earn more by exporting latest technology

Some of the participants who took part in the live drone-flying demonstration and interaction with drone experts at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology ground in Nairobi. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard]

Kenya has emerged as a leader in the African tech scene, with a thriving ecosystem of startups and entrepreneurs driving growth in the industry.

The country has become a hub for innovation, producing successful companies now exporting technology products and services worldwide. The innovative solutions have revolutionised how government works, interacts, interfaces and engages people.

Kenya should improve in areas such as cyber security, cloud computing, blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) for a competitive edge in the international market.

Ingenuity has seen Kenya's startups including e-citizen, provide tangible and transformative solutions to how the government can digitise services making it efficient, transparent and accessible. The success of e-citizen can be replicated in other fields.

The government can now spur technological boom and export it to solve sticky issues in delivery of services in Africa and beyond.

With the world economy becoming more knowledge-intensive, it behooves Kenya to invest in research and innovation to position itself favourably in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Tailor-made technology for export to solve particular encumbrances would be a game changer. Kenya can borrow a leaf from tech giants including India to facilitate a pool of freelance techies to create a boom in the tech that was accelerated by Covid-19.

One of the key factors that has contributed to Kenya's success in the tech industry is its highly skilled and educated workforce. The government has been supportive of the tech industry, investing in infrastructure and creating policies that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. This has led to vibrant startup ecosystem, with incubators, accelerators and venture capital firms.

Among key areas tech wizards can break new ground is micro-chip conception and production, quantum chip and quantum computing and super or hyper computing.

One of the most successful Kenyan startups is M-Pesa, a mobile money platform that has revolutionised financial services. M-Pesa has become a model for other countries in Africa and beyond.

Another one is Ushahidi, a crowdsourcing platform used to track and map incidents of violence and natural disasters. Ushahidi has been used in high-profile events, including Haiti earthquake and the Arab Spring, and has been recognised as a powerful tool for citizen engagement and crisis response.

Kenyan startups are also gaining traction in international markets, with a number of companies now exporting their technology products and services worldwide. Borrowing from the e-citizen exploits, the government can embark on production and export of biometric systems, Artificial Intelligence and cashier free stores.

The ICT and Digital Economy Ministry should support tech startups, manufacturers and incubating hubs, especially as they seek new overseas sales. Kenya's long-term competitiveness in cutting-edge technologies also requires political goodwill.

The writer is director corporate communications at Webmasters Kenya Ltd, a subsidiary of Value 8 Group