Private-sector investment in Internet-related technologies accounts for 7 percent of the country’s iGDP, or $2 per capita. The establishment of Konza Techno City has attracted the likes of IBM, Microsoft, and Google to Kenya, where the burgeoning tech sector has been dubbed the “Silicon Savannah”. The i-Hub incubator has led to the development of more than 150 businesses, such as Kopo Kopo (which develops mobile payment systems for SMEs) and eLimu (which is producing low-cost tablets for primary schools). In addition, Kenya is one of the three countries in our sample with an Internet-related trade surplus, and there is opportunity to further expand its BPO sector.

Kenya has also innovated in terms of services and technology and is recognised globally as a pioneer in mobile money solutions. Apart from the much-celebrated M-Pesa, Kenyans have embraced the MasterCard MPOS (mobile point of sale) solution, a lightweight device that can be plugged into smartphones and tablets to accept payments in accordance with global card industry security standards. Solutions such as these are introducing both consumers and retailers to cashless payments, which is usually the first step before the adoption of online payments.

Ushahidi, a Kenyan technology non-profit, has developed a device called the BRCK, which has been described as a “backup generator for the Internet”. It aims to address the challenges of making connectivity more reliable—even when the power is out. The device is designed to keep users connected with minimal effort by moving seamlessly between wired ethernet, Wi-Fi, and mobile data zones and by switching to a robust built-in battery automatically whenever the power grid goes down.

Kenya’s i5F score is 47 percent, which places it third in the sample after
South Africa (50 percent) and Morocco (48 percent). In terms of Internet foundations, Kenya has a key advantage: its government is one of the most progressive in the region with regard to both technology-led development and the implementation of business reforms (Exhibit 20). Its policy initiatives have included the appointment of an ICT board that was empowered to shape a long-term national vision, facilitate investment, and encourage innovation in both the private and public sectors—and these efforts have yielded results in large part because of effective leadership and a focus on implementation. 

Read more:Africa Going Digital

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