, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – Telkom is set to invest about Sh3 billion in infrastructure connecting President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda of affordable housing, universal healthcare, manufacturing and food security.
Telkom Enterprise Managing Director Kris Senanu says the investment will go towards increasing connectivity in health facilities; partnerships with resellers’ in connectivity to affordable housing as well as supporting the manufacturing industry become more effective through the ‘internet of things’.
The firm is also looking at entering into the agribusiness sector in a bid to give farmers access to information they need so as to get the best pricing for their produce.
“The Sh3 billion will go to Infrastructure that goes into our network, mostly to GSM Base stations and fiber. A lot of fiber is being dug on the commercial side. We are working to hit number one in aata services provision and number two in voice calls,” Senanu said.
The government owns about 40 percent of the telco which has about 3.85 million subscribers.
The announcement comes even as the government has emphasized the importance of ICT in realizing the big four agenda.
ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru says the ministry intends to collect all farmers’ biodata, amount of land and crops produced as well as create an agricultural management system to increase food productivity.
He said that ICT will enable collation of biometric data of all Kenyans covered from birth and there will be electronic medical records where Kenyans can access healthcare from over 7,000 health centers countrywide.
“We have over 42 million mobile subscribers out of a population of maybe 45 to 50 million. Then almost everyone is digital. We have this opportunity using technology to identify people, identify what produce farmers have, ensure that when you are going to any health center, you are easily given your service quickly because you are easily identified,” he stated during an interview with Capital in the morning show.
He observed that ICT will also facilitate telemedicine, where a patient in one part of the country can be diagnosed by a medical expert in a different part of the country without having to travel long distances.
He stressed that technology can also add value to manufacturing industries by improving the packaging of products.
“With the digital literacy programme, we have already introduced a local assembly, the laptops and tablets are even assembled here. So in all this, technology is going to help in even manufacturing and in value addition. If you look at software, today you take your phone, you buy bundles then you send your information to Google. They then package it and sell it back to you. We are going into the same method,” he said.
In the area of housing, he explained that ICT will be used to provide sufficient information to potential homeowners thereby driving down the cost of mortgages where one can convert rent into a mortgage.
The CS also revealed that the ministry has also set up the Blockchain Task Force whose role is to explore the development potential of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in Kenya.
He stated that the role of this task force is to produce an extensive roadmap for the practical application and integration of these technologies across various sectors in Kenya.
Mucheru also noted that the government is involved in driving the digital agenda and that the ministry has come up with a ‘White Box Initiative’ where any innovator or tech entrepreneur can share their ideas which can then be considered.