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Google enables Kenyan SMEs go online

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 12 – Thousands of local small and medium size enterprises (SME) will be able to take their businesses online through a new initiative launched by Google Kenya on Monday.

Dubbed Getting Kenyan Businesses Online (GKBO), the Google-led effort will give SMEs the opportunity to create their own website at no cost.

With 10.2 million Internet users in Kenya, Google Kenya Country Manager Olga Arara-Kimani said the initiative will transform the SME landscape, while positively impacting the economy.

“The SME will be listed online under our website, If we are able to get these businesses online, where we are now seeing that they are not only being found locally, but have the opportunity to be found internationally, they can contribute to the growth of the business,” she said.

The GKBO website is mobile and desktop compatible allowing SMEs to personally manage the site and update business information in real time.

Resources available include a shopping cart service and SMS alerts providing the number of hits to the website.

According to a recent Google study, one in three mobile Internet searches in the East African region pertain to local information.

Also speaking during the launch, Ministry of Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo said GKBO also helps to address high registration prices for website domains that often discourages SMEs from signing up.

“The storage capacity in this country is four times as expensive as it is outside the country. If it continues to be that expensive it will discourage people from getting local domains. What Google brings in is the leveraging of their capacity for storage to bring lower costs,” he said.

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Moving forward, the PS acknowledged that online authentication will prove to be a problem on the security front due to infrastructure issues and inadequate legal and policy frameworks.

However, he asserted that the government was taking steps to boost cyber security through the Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT) at the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK).

CIRT, known as the Kenya Computer Incident Response Team Coordination Centre (KE-CIRT CC), will receive, review and respond to computer security incident reports and activity, as well as create awareness on cyber security issues through the provision of cyber security advisories.

Partners involved in the GKBO initiative include Safaricom, Equity Bank, the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information and Communication, World Bank and Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC).

With a target of 50,000 new domains a year, KENIC will offer subsidized pricing knocking off 50 percent from current rates to cater to local SMEs, through the partnership.

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