The Connected Kenya Summit concluded recently Mombasa, and with the theme of innovating for the citizen, it maked for interesting discussions, presentations and thinking. With both government and private sector engaging, it is clear that we are making headway in leveraging information technology to deliver value to the citizen.
Slowly things are coming together with the right people in the right places and tremendous good will, both in government and the private sector. The work at the directorate of e-government under the direction of Dr. Katherine Getao is particularly refreshing and it is defining the framework that will lead to what I will call the real digital revolution in Kenya, where every citizen will have access to information and services without the mental wall of understanding or steep learning curve that most technology based solutions present; where we address 18th, 19th and 20th century problems in one fell swoop.
Concepts such as m-health and cloud computing are steadily gaining traction with providers like Safaricom and Orange leveraging their networks to ingrain these services in the market, with visible success. This means that both large enterprises and SME’s are seeing the value of enhanced connectivity to improve business processes and reduced cost on the cloud computing front , while medical facilities have become more effective and efficient from the adoption of m-health, even in its infant deployment.
One of the challenges that came through during one of the panel sessions facilitated by Prof. Kamau Gachingi of the University of Nairobi, Prof. Joe Sevilla of Strathmore University, Dr. Katherine Getao of the E-Government and Mrs. Betty Macharia from Seven Seas, was that we need to get into the business of building things that would make use of innovative technology. Think innovations that would blend engineering, manufacturing and mobile technology. Can we build mobile medical kits for remote diagnosis, testing and analysis of diseases? Can we build flood management systems that will initiate disaster avoidance mechanisms say by alerting residents of the breeching of the banks by water via mobile, automatically open channels to divert and control the overflow while alerting the relevant authorities ?
It is this combined thought process that will push the boundaries of our innovation and execution and build on a multi- disciplinary approach that will see us create relevant solutions that will have application the world over. The problems and issues we have don’t occur in isolation. I have this feeling that we will have another “mpesa” homerun in the not too distant future if the current momentum and public private partnerships are maintained in the pursuit of a connected people.