Mobile apps to boos ICT innovation
Posted Wednesday, March 14 2012 at 17:49
Kenya’s quest for industrialisation can be fast-tracked through increased innovation in ICT, especially mobile applications that have become the main drivers of business and life globally.
Speaking on Wednesday during the opening of a four-day mobile technology boot camp at Inoorero University, Vice Chancellor Prof Henry Thairu said the institution was working with government and other partners to support innovation.
“There have been great tools developed to make work easier and these tools in turn change the way life and business is conducted,” said Prof. Thairu.
“The greatest that brings all elements of communication technology, social, internet, political, cultural and business is the mobile phone.”
He urged young Kenyans to get more innovative to benefit from the current technological revolution, adding that development of computer software and mobile applications had opened limitless opportunities for the tech-savvy and Kenyan youth were better placed to ride the wave.
The ICT boot camp, the second to be held by the university, seeks to stimulate creativity among students who showcase their creative ideas and compete in developing applications to handle various activities.
This year’s theme is “Mobile Technology for Solving Problems in the Kenyan Society”. It has attracted app developers from a number of universities including, JKUAT, Maseno, Daystar, Nazarene and Kenyatta University.
He said banks had moved from banking halls and ATMs to mobile transfers that include withdrawals, payment of bills and purchase of goods. “In December 2011, M-Pesa moved Sh116.6 billion,” noted Prof Thairu. “If the services were converted to a bank, it would disrupt the banking sector and become the dominant banking service in Kenya.”
Vision 2030 director-general Mugo Kibati, who opened the conference, said ICT was a key pillar in the Vision 2030 and asked universities and software developers to think outside the box. “We cannot develop to a middle-level economy without innovation,” he said. “And that innovation has to be original which means we must invest more in research and development.”
He said innovation backed by research would solve the problem of commercializing service-oriented solutions. He said projects like Konza City and Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset) presented markets for app developers.
“As the old generation thinks about property around these areas, young people should be looking at how they can use technology to service these areas and create jobs.”
Mobile usage has grown tremendously with over 70 per cent of Kenya covered by mobile networks and over 24 million people hooked to them. This makes mobile applications very critical in accessing services.
“Mobile phone is considered the computer of Africa and the de facto medium of communication,” said Mr Kibati.
He noted that Kenya is ranked 56 out of 139 countries worldwide in terms of innovation by the World Competitiveness Report for 2010/11, putting the country at par with Asian tigers.
“Our problem in Kenya has always been that innovation is not turned into concrete products for the market soon enough. We need to close the innovation-implementation gap to increase our overall global competitiveness.”