The President said ICT is no longer a luxury but a powerful tool that will help address most of the problems facing Kenya and Africa at large.
“We are determined to ensure that our people fully benefit from the advantages to ICT and related technology,” President Kenyatta said.
The President spoke on Tuesday in Kigali, Rwanda during an interactive session for Heads of State at the Transform Africa Summit.
He said Kenya has prioritised the use of ICT in its development agenda because of its potential to trigger an industrial revolution necessary for the country’s transformation. The President said ICT was also crucial in reducing the cost of doing business, a key ingredient in economic growth.
The President cited job creation for Kenyan youth as one of the most important benefits that Kenya expects to derive from fully embracing ICT.
He said that was why the laptop project featured prominently in the Jubilee Coalition’s manifesto and underscored his personal determination to ensure its implementation is successful.
“We are introducing laptops to our children because we want them to begin, right from their basic education, to know that this is one of the greatest tools that have the power to significantly improve life,” the President said.
He said allowing children to use ICT at an early age would enable them to interact across Africa, leading to faster integration of the continent.
President Kenyatta said ICT is equally important in boosting security and fighting corruption, two of the challenges that retard development.
The President observed that ICT powers economic growth and Africa must quickly integrate it in all their development policies. He emphasized that ICT is not only a strategic resource but also the foundation of every individual and institutional activity.
Speaking at the meeting, other African Heads of State led by host President Paul Kagame concurred that Africa must embrace ICT in order to compete effectively with the rest of the world.
They said the continent can no long afford to lag behind in ICT, saying it is the driving force that would ensure Africa achieved its development targets.
President Salva Kiir of South Sudan said although his country was the youngest nation in the continent, his Government has entered into an agreement with Kenya to have the fibre optic construction from Mombasa extended to Juba. President Kiir said this would greatly improve internet connectivity in the young nation.
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda applauded the rapid uptake of ICT by African countries but said that it should not be done at the expense of other key sectors of the economy including agriculture, industry and the service sector.
“There is need to balance our implementation of ICT so that we do not end up concentrating too much effort on one area while ignoring other areas that are equally important in development our endeavours,” President Museveni said.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon commended Rwanda for successfully implementing the one laptop per child programme, saying the initiative should be replicated across the continent.
Other speakers included Presidents Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta of Mali, Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso and the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, Hamadoun Touré.
(Story by Kazungu Chai)