Stakeholders in Kenya’s ICT sector have pledged their commitment to collaborating with African governments to accelerate growth of the continents innovation drive.
Harry Hare, DEMO Africa Executive Producer, said the success of Kenya’s Safaricom mobile money service M-Pesa is evidence of Africa’s potential to steer innovation in the ICT sector.
“We are on the edge of a technology entrepreneurial revolution which requires the participation of both the public and private sectors to take off,” he said.
He also stated that what is being looked at through the DEMO is the making of technology billionaires in dollar terms from the continent and creating massive job opportunities.
Francis Wangusi, the director general of Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK), said the adoption of the innovations in the society will be driven by the public and private sector.
“This trend is becoming the norm and we appreciate the work that the public and private partner organizations have done towards the DEMO Conference that is being held in Africa for the first time,” he said.
Wangusi called on players to play a significant role as Kenya’s Vision 2030 advocates for the provision of incentives in new frontiers of knowledge and innovative systems.
According to him Kenya, especially its young tech-savvy generation, has flown the flag high with valuable innovations that have won international recognition.
Noting the private sector’s hand in sponsoring the DEMO, he said it was a clear indication that public-private partnerships are necessary in catalyzing the growth of African economies.
“To ensure that these innovations are adopted in society, the Commission urges more organizations to come together and provide the much needed support,” he stated.
According to BluePoint Ventures, for the past 20 years, 22 percent of past demonstrators received funding within 60 days as a direct result of a DEMO launch.
A study by BluePoint Ventures points out that 92 percent of those who secured funding did so within 9 months of DEMO where 62 percent received over $1 million in funding. In the past five years, DEMO companies have raised over $4.5 billion following their debut at DEMO.
Safaricom, one of the sponsors, recently announced an imminent launch of a marketplace for indigenous applications.
Safaricom’s director of corporate affairs Nzioka Waita said they recognize that huge app development talent exists in the emerging markets and only such developers can provide applications suitable for their respective markets.
The nexus between ICT and economic growth has already been established. The critical element that is missing is increased investment in ICT infrastructure, which can only be achieved by increased collaboration between the public and private sectors since the initial capital outlay can be prohibitive to individual investors, according to a statement by the African Development Bank (AfDB) also sponsors of DEMO.