Ideas & Debate

LETTERS: How to accelerate Kenya’s digital economy

Kenya has the largest mobile phone penetration
Kenya has the largest mobile phone penetration across the region currently at 85 percent. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the organisational operating model through advancement in technological infrastructures. These dynamics necessitate urgency within organizations to embrace the revolution which will impact the nature of work.

Whereas, some roles will be merged, undoubtedly, the revolution will unravel limitless opportunities within the Kenyan digital economy landscape that can benefit all especially youth and women.

To embrace transition, the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) documented the Digital Economy Blueprint 2019 as a roadmap to spur Kenya’s digital economy.

The blueprint envisions to create opportunities on three fronts: research and development, digital skills, entrepreneurship and innovation while seeking to provide a conceptual framework to be adoptable by Kenya in its quest towards the realization of a successful and sustainable digital economy.

The digital economy/internet economy is dynamic and requires constant innovation and competition in the business sector. The internet economy avails consumers’ services and products that previously were not accessible, reframes marketing practices and incorporates both business and public sectors to stimulate trade operations.


The blueprint, underscores that an innovator-entrepreneurship ecosystem includes government agencies, financiers such as venture capitalists; educators, research and design agencies; service providers and support agencies; and entrepreneurs themselves.

Well-developed innovation -driven entrepreneurship ecosystems provide the bedrock for a robust private sector, by facilitating the creation and growth of businesses.

This implies that, a successful innovation-driven entrepreneurship ecosystem, will support the realisation of digital transformation, entrepreneurial experimentation, and re-allocate human capital and resources.

In the long-run, thrive start-ups, small to mid-size enterprises (SMEs) and high-growth technology companies with the goal of creating green jobs.

Consequently, digital transformation of businesses will bring sector specific benefits such as digital commoditisation which will result in low production costs for international competitiveness.

The intangible components within the final value chain of goods and services facilitated by the increased ease of access to digital technologies and platforms will transform the understanding of the production and distribution of wealth and cross-border trade on a global scale. In fact, quick access to markets via e-commerce platforms, will be the manifestation of an enabling internet economy.

Essentially, digitisation will enable businesses reach out to a broader customer base or tap into new markets such as those provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to actualise the creation of a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.

To complete the chain, empowered consumers are liable to drive innovation, productivity and competition by means of education, access to relevant information and capacity to assess information correctly, in order to make optimal decisions as buyers.

Significantly, developing the entire value chain of innovation driven entrepreneurship will contribute extensively to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This necessitates governments’ to actively participate and provide interventions in investments in ICT ecosystems, connectivity, and digital infrastructure; agreements to promote ICT adoption and diffusion as well as market access; regulatory frameworks that foster healthy competition and market conditions; and policies to boost investment and innovation.

What is more, Kenya has the largest mobile phone penetration across the region currently at 85 percent thus the youth can take advantage of this platform to generate solutions at the county level.

Research and development allows businesses to gain a competitive edge, supports sectors to transform, and achieve their digitization potential through research, design and development. To achieve this, sector specific strategies and action plans ought to focus on evidence based frameworks.

Nancy Marangu via email