Yesterday, the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) held a webinar on the future of smart and sustainable cities. Among the main speakers during the webinar was the current P.S. for ICT and Innovation, Jerome Ochieng’, the former P.S. Prof. Bitange Ndemo, and the former Vision 2030 director and current Telkom Kenya CEO, Mugo Kibati.

Among the many issues addressed during the webinar, 5 main sub-themes were the major focus of the discussion:

  1. Exploring Technologies used to Manage Covid-19 Pandemic.
  2. Utilizing Artificial Intelligence in Cities.
  3. Deploying 5G Technology in Battling Covid-19 Pandemic.
  4. The niche of Robotics in Combating Covid-19.
  5. The Place of the Internet of Things in the Post Covid-19 Era.

“COVID 19 has been the greatest advertiser of technology as people work to find solutions to challenges we face,” said Jerome Ochieng. “We have an opportunity to create more jobs if the country moves to embrace technology.”

He said that the country plans to promote the digital economy in order to boost employment opportunities in the country. He observed that the nation is prioritizing the digital economy because it is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy.

According to Ochieng, in order for citizens to fully reap the benefits of the digital economy, they will need to acquire the necessary skills. He said that the digital economy will be underpinned by the provision of universal broadband access to both urban and rural residents.

He observed that many private firms are automating their services and this could lead to temporary loss of jobs but overall more jobs will be created through embracing the digital economy.

Ochieng added that ICT is currently the driver of many sectors of the economy including health, agriculture and financial services.

“We don’t want Kenya to be left behind from the current digitalization trend and hence the government will embed ICT in every sphere of learning in the country,” he added.

Ochieng said that the digitalization of government services which will be availed through online platforms will also improve access to basic services.

John Tanui, CEO of KoTDA, said that through leveraging the digital economy, Kenya will be able to leapfrog its economic development.

Tanui observed that a key pillar of Kenya’s digital economy is the Konza Techno city which will host a smart city and data center. He noted that currently, governments around the world have been deploying smart city solutions in the fight against COVID-19.

Tanui said that technology has also been used to track the spread of the pandemic and support the implementation and identifying mitigation strategies.

Prof. Bitange Ndemo commended the current team at Konza saying the work they’ve been doing is very commendable. “There’s a chance for us to not just leap forward, but to also bring in a service center that would propel all of us to the next level.”

He said that the data centre at Konza would help not only save money, but also do away with mischiefs of the past around servers being down, and data being lost.

“What used to happen before is that every government agency would buy their own servers, and it cost a lot of money to buy such servers. That is becoming a very old model of investment. When we have data centers like the one we have now in Konza, you create huge computing capacity in the sense that it can be shared. You can create a cloud out of Konza which can be shared across government. And all the mischiefs we used to have that the servers are down won’t arise because you have one safe place where you’re guaranteed the computing capacity throughout.”

Prof. Ndemo also touched on the importance of such facilities for the future of Kenyan youth, both in fighting unemployment, and in building our local film industries.

“Because we have that capacity, we can now have as many youths as we can who can partner with other youth across the world to develop especially the industry of gaming which is very big. We also need to develop African games so that we can sell them out. We can now begin to do animations, local films because we have that capacity to store them. So it presents a lot of opportunities which we must now begin to evangelise to the youth.”

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