OPINION: Kenya’s ICT sector shivers from delayed ICT master plan

It was supposed to be the document providing the details on how Africa’s Silicon Savannah was to kick off, as investors set their eyes on Kenya. Yet news on its launch, originally scheduled for late November but then postponed, has gone quiet.

The blueprint developed by the Ministry of Information and Communications is intended to drive citizen adoption of the Vision 2030 priorities through ICT policies and initiatives while at the same time determining priorities and key initiatives to be undertaken across the Vision 2030 socio-economic pillars.

The master plan was meant to be launched on November 29, 2012, but this was postponed just hours in advance, with Kenya ICT Board’s CEO Paul Kukubo revealing to HumanIPO that the deadline set had been “crazy”. There has since been no news as to when we can expect the document to be unveiled.

To the ICT community and investors, the setback could have far-reaching consequences, with the country likely to miss a number of targets set in the five-year plan, with projects expected to be complete by 2017 to 2018 likely to now also be delayed.

Other targets are now also in question, including Kenya becoming Africa’s technology hub by 2017 and Kenya’s ICT industry contributing an estimated $2 billion (25 percent of Kenya’s GDP), having created 500 ICT companies and 50,000 jobs.

Apart from the ICT sector, the delays could affect other key industries, such as agriculture, health, education and retail and wholesale trade, as the master plan was to detail how the country intends to move ahead and improve these sectors through increased value addition to society and overall citizen experience.

The absence of a new date for the historic launch is thus expected to be interpreted differently by investors and players in the ICT space, and could also have unexpected outcomes on other multi-billion dollar projects such as the Konza City that are involved in the master plan.

For now, all that can be hoped is that side effects of the two-month delay can be negated through quick implementation, with government-associated bureaucracy, bottlenecks and further delays avoided.

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