50 CEOs and experts in Kenya from the government, development partners, businesses and academia met to develop a set of recommendations on how to leverage ICT to achieve the Big Four Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The roundtable was organized by the SDG Partnership Platform Kenya at the United Nations, the ICT Authority, Huawei and GlobeScan. It was held under the auspices of the Ministry of ICT, with the Principal Secretary, ICT, and Innovation, overseeing the event. It was organized as a precursor to the Connected Summit taking place next week in Nairobi that will bring over 500 participants together to further discuss these issues.
Prior to the roundtable discussion, the participants completed a survey sharing their greatest challenges and opportunities for using ICT for the Big Four and SDGs. The survey found that:
– ICT could most contribute to Universal Health Coverage (UHC (75%), Food Security and Nutrition (63%), Manufacturing (58%), Affordable Housing (8%).
– Biggest challenges are high financial costs (53%), difficulty managing in parallel with main business (32%), and ICT infrastructure is not good enough (32%).
– The national government, intergovernmental, and non-profit organizations were the most important new partners that organizations need.
– Lack of focal point/ organizational structure, lack of a clear business model, and uncertainty on the return of investment were the three biggest challenges in partnering.
Key recommendations developed during the event include:
– SDG 9: Manufacturing, innovation, and research: Better and more accessible data to enable businesses to understand potential markets and business opportunities, as well as to build research centers;
– SDG 3: Develop and disseminate clear ICT norms and standards for UHC solutions to guide providers and investors and co-design integrated/holistic ICT solutions which are interoperable, user-friendly and fit for Kenya purpose.
– SDG 2: Agriculture and food security: Improve data at a local level to direct more investment and ensure it is efficient, as well as to develop new financing and business models that can be more suitable for engaging youth in agriculture;
– SDG 11: Housing and sustainable cities: Develop policies and guidelines that can enable more sustainable and safer cities using technology;
– SDG 4: Education: Cross-sector partnerships to implement more applied science and technology in curriculums throughout the education system.
– SDG 8: Decent Work and employment: Collect and share comprehensive research and data that can identify job and investment opportunities, enable a better understanding of job markets and build on the Ajira platform.
During the roundtable, John Sergon, Acting CEO, ICT Authority, representing the Principal Secretary for ICT and Innovation stated: “It is very important to bring together important stakeholders related to ICT and the BIG Four and SDG agenda to drive momentum and create opportunities for partnerships. This is why events such as this and Connected are so important. All of us in the industry and the ecosystem welcome the recommendations that have come out today and hope to forge new partnerships. Kenya is already a leading light in Africa for our progress in ICT infrastructure, ICT ecosystem and e-government and now we must build on this to bring further social and economic benefits to our citizens. We look forward to taking these recommendations forward into Connected taking place at Bomas of Kenya next week.”
Ruben Vellenga, Partnership Specialist at the SDG Partnership Platform of the United Nations Office in Kenya agreed, saying that “ICT can be a critical enabler of the Big Four agenda and this roundtable has developed some clear recommendations for what we can all do, working in partnership together. We will bring these forward into the SDG Partnership Platform’s work with stakeholders across the Big Four Development Agenda”.
Senior Director of Public Affairs at Huawei, Adam Lane, emphasized on the importance of multinational companies to utilize their high-tech innovations to work with local partners in government, academia, start-ups and non-profits to bring real tangible benefits to local people: “The Big Four agenda and the SDGs are a strong guiding framework for us in developing and implementing solutions to transform Kenya and Kenyans. Our recently launched Sustainability Report shows how we are partnering to contribute where we can and we continually seek to do more.”