President Uhuru Kenyatta’s economic strategies have had hits and misses. There have been gainers and losers from infrastructure, water and sanitation, health, and manufacturing to agriculture.
As power shifts to a new government, the focus will be on the ICT sector which has recorded good years, creating new jobs for a growing population of youth keen on new technologies and nurtured a vibrant e-commerce industry.
The sector has attracted high numbers of investors, courting billions of shillings in tech start-ups, digital platforms, and manufacturing of tech products.
ICT jobs, for instance, recorded a 43 percent growth jump from 2013 to 2021. This translates to 132,100 jobs in 2021 compared to 92,400 jobs in 2013.
The growth is attributed to increasing in mobile money agents as well as value of transactions, mobile data, Wi-Fi and fibre cable subscriptions, meaning that Kenyans can do online businesses, including working as outsourced workers for companies based in Europe, the US and elsewhere.
Multinational technology companies such as Microsoft and Google have also set base in Kenya, recruiting hundreds of young Kenyans as developers.
The digital revolution has led to new digital skills in fields like artificial intelligence, big-data, cloud computing and mobile robotics.
The increased investment in ICT has seen internet penetration rise to 93.9 percent in 2022, from 31.4 percent in 2013, and mobile phone use increase to 131 percent from 74.9 percent in the same period. Internet penetration has stimulated innovation among the youth.
“Infrastructure has a way of turning swamps into cities, dead spaces into high-value properties, and village shopping centres into city malls,” President Kenyatta said in a speech on June 1, 2022.
“Without infrastructure, there is no way of finding new possibilities. And that is why we made it one of our big push investments.”
The sector’s value of goods and services including intermediate goods rose to Sh566.3 billion in 2021 from Sh127.28 billion in 2013.
It was during Mr Kenyatta’s tenure that the ICT’s budget over the years rose close to three times to Sh19.25 billion from Sh6.92 billion.
However, the growth in ICT among other sectors has come with a huge burden of debt and taxation.