$55.1 million grant a boost to Kenyan ICT, says World Bank

The World Bank has served Kenya a grant of US$55.1 million (Ksh4 billion) to scale up the sprawling mobile and web development sector.

The funding is meant to help developers come up with applications that will provide solutions for every day use including digital inclusion, content development, Internet shared services and e-government, according to World bank.

“Information technology has on average contributed one percentage point to Kenya’s growth since 2000, and opened a path for achieving remarkable improvements in transparency and also in governance,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Kenya.

The new funding will increase financing under the Kenya Transparency and Communications Infrastructure Project (KTCIP), a project funded by World Bank, to $169.5 million, reports the World Bank.

KTCIP has previously offered grants to Infotrack Strategic Solutions, which developed a portal that links teachers with the Teachers’ Service Commission, their employer. iBid Labs has also benefited from the projects grants to come up with Kenya Online Museum project that documents the country’s history.

Currently, Kenya has installed the second fastest broadband on the continent after Ghana. According to World Bank, this has led to price reduction of wholesale Internet capacity by over 90 percent hence increasing Internet penetration to 37 percent from 3 percent of the population — in the last decade.

Statistics from Communication Commission of Kenya show that Kenya has registered a significant rise in the number of Internet users since 2010. Over 7 million of 22 million Kenyan mobile phone users are subscribed to the Internet.

Kenya is currently looking to use ICT to improve governance, openness and transparency as promised by its new constitution launched in April 2010. In July last year, the Kenyan government launched open data portal, a revolutionary initiative that allows private innovators and the government to improve Kenya’s ICT applications.

Part of the funds will also go to develop and enhance the Kenya Open Data platform. This will see more applications built on top of the existing platform.

The 4 billion shilling grant will be administered by Kenya ICT Board, an institution set up by the government to look at ICT development in the country. The ICT board has not yet announced how it is going to disburse the money to developers although according Business Daily, it will need to put up transparent structures to ensure that the funds are put to the intended use.

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