Kenya to become Africa’s gateway for digital advancement

Japan will use Kenya to experiment on a new digital model before rolling it out to other East African countries and the African continent at large.

Japanese Minister in Charge of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi said the new model would focus not only on one single industrial sector of manufacturing or retail, but the entire business.

A platform for logistics or financial systems can be created in this country first, then same model is used horizontally across the continent and that can be beneficial to all countries of Africa, he said.

Speaking Thursday when he paid courtesy call on ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru in Nairobi, Motegi said Japan and Kenya have a lot of complementarities that keep the two countries busy collaborating with each other.

The only time we can think of competing against each other will be 2020, during the Tokyo Olympic and Para Olympic in the long distance races, but you are very strong in this field, he said.

Motegi said Japan would leverage on the already existing digital infrastructure in the country for improvement and expansion.

He appreciated that although Japanese financial institutions have a history of probably 300 years, they were yet to reach the effectiveness and efficiency he witnessed of M-pesa operations in Kenya, a technology that is just 11 years old.

The ambassador said that the Japanese government would be truly supportive to Kenya’s initiatives whether digital technology or other economic development.

On his part, Mucheru said that the government has provided a lot of connectivity, roads, East African power pole for electricity, internet and mobile connectivity, including four cables landing and those that go across the region.

The CS noted that there were many different projects in the country, making Kenya a very strategic place to be, and a gateway to Africa.

Mucheru observed that Japan has a distinguished track in ICT spanning over 15 years, while Kenya has just began and hopes to find more areas of collaboration with Japan.

He said the Ministry of ICT is charged with seeing how best to harness the strengths of young people, adding that technology is at the heart of the whole initiative.

We believe that e-commerce, which is the driver of the economy, will help us do a lot because you have to see goods moving around, you have to build the roads, you have to ensure payment systems and so on, he said.

The CS said that Kenya is not only keen to see its own growth but that of the region as well, noting that although Africa is a fragmented with small countries, President Uhuru Kenyatta has been on the forefront in promoting regional economic blocs.

There is the preferential Free Trade Area, covering over a billion people, which is opening up the regional market, he said.

Mucheru said Kenya is part of Smart Africa Initiative where 24 African countries have already signed up, bringing 600 million people in a single digital market.

In Kenya for instance, people from African countries can now apply visa on arrival and will get it without difficulty. We are working hard to make sure that in the whole of Africa, it is available but we want to be the hub, he said.

The CS said Kenya would engage Japan significantly and leverage on its skills in artificial intelligence such as drones, robots and big jetter among others.

He said Kenya would share with Japan more details of its projects that were geared towards Vision 2030 and the President’s Big 4 agenda.

As you plan and look for opportunities we hope to collaborate, set up manufacturing or assembly plants here to spur significant economic growth in the continent, said Mucheru.

Motegi, who led a Japanese delegation of 20, advised Kenya to develop concrete projects for funding and channel them through their ambassador to Kenya.

Source: Kenya News Agency