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Internet can work wonders, says Ndemo

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9 – Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo has challenged local entrepreneurs to use the enormous amount of information available on the Internet to grow and expand their businesses.

The PS said the economy loses billions of shillings and thousands of job opportunities when the private sector imports products such as cheese and juice that can be produced locally.

"We poured milk last year and yet we spent over Sh15 billion to import cheese. I don\’t know whether anybody gets embarrassed with that. All the information about how to process cheese is available on the Internet and so are the equipment needed to do so," he said.

For many years now, the country has grappled with the challenge of over production of food which subsequently sees food stuff wasted or rot as the country lacks the necessary mechanisms to deal with the glut.

While the government has been in the receiving end in such cases for lack of proper planning, Dr Ndemo also heaped blamed on the private sector for failing to invest in technologies that can address some of the country\’s challenges.

Besides learning how they can address some of those issues, he said the Internet also provides a platform where upcoming entrepreneurs can market their goods and services to the growing Internet population in the country which stands at about 9 million users.

Kenya is reaping from its investment in infrastructure which has seen three undersea fibre optic cables land in the country and in turn served to increase the availability of reliable and affordable bandwidth.

"We were behind in building infrastructure but now Kenya is inching closer to Africa\’s average (of Internet penetration which is 10.9 percent). We jumped from 3.5 million users a year ago to the current 9 million which is very good for us," the PS enthused.

This has in turn seen the cost of doing business gradually decline and which is eventually expected to improve the country\’s business climate.

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The government, he added, was not lagging behind and was in the process of adopting IT applications as it seeks to increase efficiency, improve service delivery and reduce corruption in state agencies.

The ongoing digitisation of government\’s records has begun to bear fruit for instance in the State Law Office where nearly 30 million paper records have been digitised and seen its monthly revenues increase three fold to about Sh80 million.

To extend its service delivery to all, the government is planning to roll out a last mile solution countrywide to ensure every corner of the country has access to broadband.

Dr Ndemo was speaking on the sidelines of a workshop organised by the NIC Bank which provides a platform for entrepreneurs to learn how they can improve their businesses.

NIC Bank Managing Director James Macharia said it is only through empowering budding entrepreneurs that the country can address the problem of youth unemployment and poverty.

Citing the example of the bank whose capitalisation has grown from Sh60 million in the 1970s to the current Sh3.3 billion, the MD emphasised the need to invest heavily in a business after which a firm would reap good returns.

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