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Across the country every day, Kenyans are increasingly relying on simple technologies as tools for socio-economic transformation. These innovations have in turn spurred acquisition of new skills, increased civic participation, and access to education, healthcare, and public safety.

 

A report by price WaterHouseCoopers (2009) assessing the potential economic benefits of digital inclusion, states that digital inclusion leads to improved education and employment outcomes. For instance, as individuals enhance their ICT skills, they can greatly improve their earnings and/or their probability of finding employment. The report also highlights that digital inclusion fosters efficiency savings for public service providers that are enabled by greater use of online information.

 

Information, Communication and Technology has penetrated in counties. Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) through the ICT Access Gaps Study (2016) provided a clear map on the access of communications services in Busia County. The level of penetration can be seen at Ward level. The report highlights that Busia county has a 3G-coverage of 95.4% and 2G coverage of 99.1. The broadcast coverage is however still low and currently stands at 1.7%. Overall, there is room to fully exploit the potentials of ICT.

 

Busia is located in western Kenya and sits on potentially productive land and is strategically located as a major trade hub in the region out of farming and non-farming activities of its people.

 

According to Busia county road map by ICT Authority, Most of the members of the business community operate small businesses. Despite the size of the businesses, they are major contributors to the GDP of the local economy by bringing growth in the local areas they operate in. Ironically though, Busia has long been associated with statistics of soaring low income levels and therefore priority is given to the basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, education as well as farming. For these people, owning a mobile phone means basic communication and mpesa transactions.

 

A resident in Busia county Salome Asena (36) is a business lady in Nambale Sub County. She owns a grocery shop and sells second hand clothes. Her biggest priority is school fees for her children, rent and food. She only needs a mobile phone that she can use to communicate to her customers, friends and family as well as access her mpesa account. Since she acquired her mobile phone, her businesses have really improved as she is able to get in touch with her customers to inform them of new collection of clothes, her customers also get in touch with her to deliver groceries. Customers also send her money on mpesa while doing purchases.  “It has been easy for me to do my business operations, I have built good relations with my customers as I am able to keep in touch with them often.” Says Salome.

 

Victor Wanjala (31) a boda boda rider in Busia town says that his father sold a piece of land in order to buy him a boda boda. He owns a simple mobile phone that he uses to communicate with his customers, family and friends. He also uses his phone to carry out mpesa transactions for his boda boda operations. Victor says that people is his village are able to call him to take them to the market, school, hospital and various other places using his boda boda. “It is better when customers call rather than waiting for them in the market, this way I am assured of some money at the end of the day. The market has a lot of competition and you may end up with 3 or 5 customers a day which is low.” He added.

 

ICTs present a great opportunity for even the smallest businesses, by reducing the cost of transactions leading to added revenue generation. Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) partner with county governments and stakeholders to rope in as many Kenyans to access ICTs.  Through a county ICT education forum dubbed Kikao Kikuu, CA engage users of ICT services and their service providers as well as government on the access to and quality of ICT services. Through this forum, CA continues to uphold the constitutional requirement for public participation in decision and policy making.

 

Last Month, the ICT consumer forum was held in Busia County where the centre of discussions were on the role of innovations in the information and communications technologies sector and in socio-economic development. Busia county residents were given the opportunity to discuss issues that concern them with respect to access to ICT services. The Authority is continuously cultivating trust and goodwill towards adoption of ICTs for socio-economic development.

During the Forum, CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi said that it is no secret today that ICTs have greatly transformed the way people interact and do business. ICTs present a great opportunity for businesses.

 

“The Communications Authority of Kenya is therefore very keen to work closely with the County Governments in an effort to ensure that counties take full advantage of ICTs and the potential they have to spur innovation and other sectors.” He added.

 

During this FY 2016/2017 the Authority through its Universal Service Fund will roll out telecommunication voice service to cover Obara sub-location where voice communication gap was identified. Additionally, the fund will facilitate the roll out of broadband to 24 secondary schools in Busia County.

 

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojamoong applauded the Authority during the forum and said that, ICTs have assisted the devolved governments increase revenue collection as well as enhancing service delivery as citizens can now access most of service online.  The County has initiated a number of ICT connectivity projects including establishment of information centres, metro network fibre, among others to boost the ICT uptake.  

 

According the latest sector statistics report, mobile telephony subscriptions now stand at 38.5 million with mobile penetration standing at 87.3%. Internet users were recorded at 37.7 million with the internet penetration standing at 85.3%.

As Kenya increasingly becomes an information society, its economic success and social development are heavily driven by availability and accessibility of information and technology.  ICTs have seen the proliferation of e-services in communication, trade, employment, education, government, and health.

 

ICTs are an enabler for other sectors of the economy as it has the capacity to accelerate the provision of primary services such as healthcare, education and disaster relief, while strengthening social and economic outcomes.

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