ICT sector in Kenya assessment by a leading ICT company in Kenya

Mike Macharia, CEO of Sevenseas Technologies, a leading provider of ICT solutions in Kenya, discusses the ICT sector in Kenya.

Mike Macharia, CEO of Sevenseas Technologies, a leading provider of ICT solutions in Kenya, discusses the ICT sector in Kenya.

First, I’d like to have your assessment of the ICT sector here in Kenya and even in Africa. Where is it? What is it? What is your evaluation and what are the trends?

If you look at Kenya, for instance, maturity in terms of technology is around. If you look around at what’s been happening in the marketplace, the government is beginning to automate to a large extent. The private sector companies led by the telecom companies have gone through their automation process. So they are really now on the cutting edge of technology. The banking sector is also highly innovative around technology with areas of financial services. Kenya is playing a very key role there. The areas of citizen services and revenue collection are key components of technology in government and e-government services and are also taking off. But definitely, if you go across to our neighbors, or different cultures across the region, they also have a different level of maturity. If you go to the opposite of Africa, the maturity is very different.

The way to address the IT market is looking at the level of maturity where we currently are. For Kenya, we are facing a very interesting transformation, which is around the whole innovation ecosystem. There is the issue of putting up technology cities like Konza and Techno Park, the issue of looking at the integration of human capital, universities into curriculum, adopting technology in schools, the delivery of health care using telemedicine and televideology. Those are areas that will begin to transform. So the question really is, as a country in Africa, where can we really be good at in the area of technology? It’s looking at multiple sectors that we could play a critical leapfrogging role. Number one, is healthcare. In African healthcare, we are looking at Kenya and other emerging markets. We could actually be change bearers of transforming how healthcare is delivered. This means primary and secondary healthcare in Africa. Education could also be a critical area where Africa could leapfrog. How we deliver education, because our education systems are not as sophisticated as those in the developed world. There are things we can learn from the developed world that we can be able to replicate here, but be able to make it fit a purpose here. The next area is what we call our cofinancial services, and there we’ve really leapfrogged. Africa is way ahead of the global market in the areas of mobile money and mobile payments. And some of those innovations only came as a result of technology.

At the same time, they became relevant because they are solving critical problems in terms of the unbound population. The area of energy in terms of green energy could be an area where we could play a critical role. And lastly, the area of agriculture in Africa is a critical part. In Kenya agriculture is a big thing. Technology, to a large extent, has not been highly utilized in delivery of activity in the agricultural space. What technology we deploy that will make an impact is not about just deploying technology for technology. It’s not about talking about IT for the sake of saying IT. It’s about talking about whatever way the solutions are implemented. Are they fit for a purpose and do they have a significant impact in the marketplace either through change of life, increasing GDP, increasing jobs creation, making us more productive, or transforming the marketplace? Those are the things that you need to look at when you look at technology in terms of size and impact on an economy.

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