THE Kenya Information Communication Technology (ICT) Board has announced the launch of a Sh300 Million grant to promote the development of local digital content and software applications.
The main purpose of this grant is to propel the emergent lucrative but yet underexploited local content industry to growth.
The grant which targets local content developers including software developers, film, animation, advertising, publishing, gaming and education professionals and all content creators, will provide the funding required for the development of quality applications relevant to the Kenya government and private sector.
Worldwide, digital content activities are transforming traditional industry structures and business models.
Local examples include mobile payment systems like M-Pesa and Pesa Pal and government e-services like online PIN registration. Thus the digital content industry has vast potential as a major contributor to our economy and society through employment creation, capital investment and export earnings, provision of skills and capabilities to traditional as well as new and emerging industry sectors.
At the same time it is also significant as a means of expressing Kenya’s unique cultural identity.
With over 3.4 million users of the internet in Kenya, research indicates that the importance of the internet outstrips those of several key developed countries.
Even so, the latent demand for local content is underlined by the fact that surveys show that lack of local content is the main reason many Kenyans shy away from accessing the internet.
On the launch of the grant facility, the CEO, Kenya ICT Board Paul Kukubo, commented, “We are pleased that we are launching this grant at a time that the ICT industry is growing and access to the internet all over the country has vastly improved.
Speaking at the press conference, the Deputy CEO, Victor Kyalo commented, “It is important that with the landing of the fiber optic cables that we as a country produce local digital content, not just ‘access’ other peoples content.
It is very positive that Kenyans embrace and appreciate ICTs, but more important is that there are more Kenyan made e-Products available in the market.
We want this grant to motivate the local content creators and software developers to originate, create, and adapt quality content that the country needs.
We intend this content grant to be a driver for the long term development of content and recognize that private and public sector need to pool resources to meet the capacity challenges this lucrative sector faces.”
The Government attaches high priority to addressing skills shortages because of the threat they pose to productivity and economic growth.
To address this, the Kenya ICT Board has a number of initiatives purposed to build skills in the ICT sector.
Among these are a Centre of Excellence for the BPO sector, an incubation program for software developers and a software certification standard that will give international accreditation and competitiveness to our local developers.
Additionally, the board is creating organic growth within the ICT sector by training entrepreneurs (over 1000 already trained) to run digital villages all over the country.
All these coupled with the improved infrastructure, has put Kenya in the forefront of potentially explosive growth in the content and software development sub-sector.