In Africa, ICT innovation and socio-economic development more often than not go hand-in-hand and the effects of this partnership have become evident in everything from enterprise to agriculture via government service delivery. Strides made in these areas fall under the banner of ICT4D (ICT for Development), and formed a considerable amount of the discussion at Kenya's East Africa Com.
There is less than a month to go until the 14th annual East Africa Com returns to Nairobi to discuss the latest trends in connectivity in the region. In preparation for the upcoming two-day conference, we are taking a look back on some of the most pertinent discussion points and topics that characterized the 2016 event, among them innovation and ICT4D.
Discussing ICT4D and its role within industries, Nixon Gecheo explained: "It simply means Information Communications Technology for development. The 'development' part means you want to leverage ICT to impact on socio-economic activities." ICT4D relies, Gecheo said, on open access to ICT services in order to "open up an opportunity in places such as agriculture -- enabling farmers to use simple ICT for e-extension and looking at the value of the markets. It is a great example of how ICT can impact development in this country."
Professor Monica Kerretts-Makau, consultant at the World Bank, added: "[Looking at] the World Development Report I think of ICT for development in terms of business and what it is doing in the business world -- what it is doing with regards to jobs, business growth and government services. I look at how I can quantify that in terms of business growth, as well as efficiency and innovation in government services."
The private sector weighed in on how they see their role in implementing ICT4D, with Safaricom's Okwero stating that: "We like to see ourselves as an enabler. Safaricom looks as itself as the entity in between and tries to connect people and change things at different levels. We look at how to enable around technology, we are quite aggressive and put more back into the network in order to drive innovation and development in certain areas and we have a very robust structure."
Case in point has been the rise and rise of Safaricom's M-PESA in the region, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary: "We can't look at this [ICT4D] without looking at the impact of M-PESA as a platform and how it has been able to transform lives," notes Okwero.
In Kenya, Safaricom is currently approving our one micro loan per second and due to the open nature of the platform, there have been a number of other new initiatives from other innovators "that have driven down the capital of many distributors and this has allowed them to have more profitable businesses and invest in other areas. We see ourselves largely as a platform that is going to catalyze development, whatever form it requires," says Okwero.
Watch the full discussion on ICT4D in East Africa as well as what stakeholders are doing in the region to ensure that ICT development meets its potential as a driver of future business in the region:
Would you like to hear from and engage with those at the forefront of East African innovation? Join East Africa Com for two days of keynote presentations, panel discussions and networking between the May 17-18, 2017 in Nairobi Kenya.