Today is a good day for technology, for innovation and transformation.
I stand here a proud Kenyan as we tick yet another first -becoming the first African country to host a Microsoft testing center and only the fourth in the world.
This is a big deal for our technology sector and for our economy and society as a whole. Think about it, we will be testing new Microsoft software before it is released to the world.
This is a big vote of confidence for Kenya, in our tech community and its abilities.
If we can provide quality assurance at a global scale, then we truly have no limits or excuses to what we can do with our technological potential.
I want to appreciate Microsoft for choosing Kenya and Techno Brain for providing the platform and capacity to make this incredible project a reality.
It is no secret that the Government wants a vibrant technology sector in this country, a silicon Savannah and we believe if we can build a proper community of engineers, developers, coders and designers we can deliver the innovations that will define the prosperity of this country in the future.
Kenya is home to many incredible tech stories; MPESA, Ushahidi, an internationally recognized crowdsourcing app, and many others that never make the front pages. Our incubator scene is arguably Africa’s pay vibrant and everyday there are young men and women across this country developing new apps and trying out something new.
The Government strongly and unreservedly encourages this enthusiasm and we have committed to interesting technology in the administration of this country and the provision of services to the people. This is why we are laying over 7,000 kilometers of fibre optic cables across all 47 counties as part of the National Fibre Optic Backbone.
We want Kenya to become a producer and exporter of innovation and not just consumers of technology. To achieve this we need a large pool of talent and projects like this will help inspire and attract even more people to this sector.
Kenya does not lead in innovation in Sub Saharan Africa by accident or mistake. It is an earned title. When we pioneered a mobile-based payment system and crowd sourcing platform, we had the tech world’s attention.
When our tech- incubator model took off, it became clear that there was more to come out of Kenya. By the time we solidified a genuine commitment of government to implement a sound ICT policy and institutional framework, our seriousness was manifest, and it was evident that, to use a popular expression, we were going places!
In Kenya and the wider African continent, technology has potential to generate greater impact than anywhere else in the world.
Technology is playing a significant role, which will increase as we progress in realising our ambition to transition from the margins into the mainstream of the global economy.
Technology will give us the innovation, connectivity and resilience we need to be a nimble and competitive player in the multidimensional global stage. IT will play a bigger role in our democracy, economy, security, arts and culture as well as environmental conservation.
Technology is ubiquitous in the democratic value chain. From guaranteeing sharing of information to facilitating efficient public services, effective citizen participation and government accountability, eGovernment is becoming the new normal.
It has always been known that technology is a decisive variable in pushing a nation’s production function towards the frontiers of production possibility. For this reason, it is important that Kenya quickly becomes a leading producer and exporter of technological innovation. That is why we have intensified our focus on higher education and, particularly, STEM disciplines.
Socio-economic transformation is increasingly technology-reliant. Because we are building a Kenya for our own and future generations, technology will enable us to ensure that the future finds us ready and waiting in every sector, starting with the Big Four areas of focus; our plan to grow the economy by focusing on manufacturing, affordable housing, universal health care coverage and food security. You might ask, what is the role of technology in this?
The Big 4 is a tech agenda, the Big 4 is about innovation. Technology is the platform, not the problem or the issue. If we want to build 500,000 houses over the next five years and do so in the cost-effective way what solutions do we need and what kind of innovation are we talking about. Technology will define how we enroll 13 million Kenyans to the National Hospital Insurance Fund, under the universal healthcare scheme.
The most striking thing about Silicon Valley is not the apps it produces or the billionaires it makes but the solutions it provides. This is my challenge to companies like Techno Brain and the Kenyan tech scene in general: look at our problems: whether in agriculture, education or healthcare and help us solve them.
Our farmers, teachers, traders and communities need solutions. It is not equal to creating the next Facebook in monetary terms but the social impact of helping a farmer get access to markets, or a student access to online libraries-these things will change lives and communities and eventually our entire society
I am proud of the Konza Smart City project, a successful urbanization model that incorporates technology into the community fabric in a way that provides greater access to technology across the socio-economic spectrum.
Linking traditional industry with technology is an efficient way of enhancing competitiveness and increasing employment opportunities. I salute Techno Brain for leading the way in impact sourcing practices that optimally equip high-potential youths for a demanding and rewarding future.
The future of our economy will unfold in a landscape designed and governed by technology. Our government’s vision for Kenya anticipates this future and this explains our unequivocal support for technology and innovation-driven productivity.
In past generations, Africa was a late adopter of decisive technologies, and this explains our longer-term position on the periphery of global economics.
In our time, we have a real opportunity to be at the front and centre of the unfolding matrix. We need to be ready. We are determined to be ready.
Finally, I recognize the commitment and support of Microsoft Corporation to the development of Africa’s technology sector. Through the 4AFRIKA initiative Microsoft has helped incubate and nurture more than 82 African start-ups since 2013 including Kenya’s iHub platform.
Thank You and may God bless