Things I don’t Want To Hear at Connected Kenya 2013 and Is the Summit Really Worth It?

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Today marks the beginning of  the Connected Kenya Summit at the Coastal city of Mombasa.   According to the definition  I picked from CIO, Connected Kenya is a networking event that brings practitioners in Kenya’s ICT industry together to network and deliberate on pertinent issues.  This will be the 5th edition of Connected Kenya, and I know many would be tempted to ask if the Summit is worth it or even necessary. I attended last year’s Connected Kenya …so let me scratch my head and see if i can remember some of things which were discussed and whether  there have been any changes since then.

1. There was a plan to lay fiber cable between Nairobi and Namanga

I have searched through the internet and there is no mention of this project anywhere.  At this point let me just say shame on whoever brought it….. but  it is important that the country address the last mile connection. Since the theme of this year’s Connected Kenya is about Connected citizens at the County level, I hope the issue of last mile connection will be adequately addressed

I can remember  Dr. Ndemo saying the following words last year ” In the next 5 years, if you don’t have 100Mbps in your homes, you will not succeed”

2. Technology Must address Our Competitive advantage, like tourism, agriculture and transport.

Again I don’t think much has been done since last year, apart from a few apps here and there,  all promising to connect farmers to the market.

I guess now when people talk about technology, the only thing which comes to mind is the computers. That is a very narrow way of  looking at technology and the country should be prepared to think about technology in a more broader way than that. There is high desire to turn the country to knowledge based economy but that is still a long way and until then, Agriculture and Tourism will remain the backbone of this country. I would love to see our engineers coming up with new methods of farming, new tools for farming, new way to treat the plants and crops. Time for the Kenyan engineers to stop working as sales people and deliver home grown solutions.

If Government is serious about Technology in Kenya, then it should start funding Research and Development in the country. The National budget every year should at least include some amount for the R&D.

3. ICT Master Plan.

Well, this has been launched twice before and the new ICT cabinet secretary said the other day that they will launch it again in the next 100 days. My eyes are open and I can  see what they are doing there…instead of implementing, they  spend money on launching….

Talking of master plans…Kenyatta Hospital  was working on Master plan  to become a world class institution via ICT adoption.. Unfortunately, I think there is so much hype about ICT adoption at Kenyatta Hospital but not much tangible evidence for it anywhere near that Hospital.  I am prepared to hear much about it again at Connected Kenya and I hope the so called Master plan is ready .

4. Land Ministry Digital Project

This one brought up a lot of discussion last year. The PS. Dorothy Angote promised to invite a number of bloggers to tour their offices, in order to see the wonderful work they are doing. Naturally the bloggers think they are doing nothing. That has never happened so far but no problem….they should just ensure that they complete the project

Well, that is the end of what I can remember about last year Connected Kenya. I am heading to Mombasa again for this year’s Connected Kenya. And during this year’s Summit, there are things I really don’t want to hear from  speakers and panelists:

Singapore this, Singapore that

Last year I was amazed the number of times  Kenyan Government employees travel to Singapore and other countries in the name of learning what they are doing in those countries. It made me wonder whether we have the dumbest Government employees ever. I mean why would smart people travel to a country ten times and they still learn nothing. Doing it once is ok, but like every week, until some Permanent Secretaries were openly complaining that the trips are  too much. One thing I don’t understand is the story that Singapore got their development master plan from Kenya, specifically from Kenya Institute of Administration (KIA), but still there is perpetual desire to  learn from them. If the plan was borrowed from Kenya, why go to Singapore, instead of KIA in Lower Kabete. Go to the archives of KIA and get the damn plan .

What Kenyan citizens need are working civil servants. Honestly I think it is simple, Kenyans need the civil servants to be in their offices and serve them and not traveling East, South and everywhere else

Leading ICT Destination in Africa

We are not  Africa leading tech country… Mr.Charles Onyango Obbo put it out clearly:

Johannesburg, Lagos and Accra beat Nairobi in the range of digital innovations that make money. But Nairobi takes the biscuit when it comes to the sexy stuff that the media love. Not surprisingly, the other capitals consider Nairobi a technology conman. When, following the March 4 General Election, the Independent Electoral Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IEBC) biometric voter registration and result transmission systems failed spectacularly before the eyes of the world, the Nairobi critics got an opportunity to exact their revenge

If you are still in doubt in terms of internet speed we are number 8. Here is the order

Mauritania 13.41Mbps
Rwanda  9.40Mbps
Namibia  6.76 Mbps
Madagascar 6.72Mbps
Ghana 5.36Mbps
Cape Verde 5.12Mbps
Ethiopia 4.78Mbps
The Mighty Kenya 3.80Mbps

Can you believe that Rwanda is a landlocked country, connected to internet super Highway through Kenya?

3. Picking stats from the internet and throwing them around

I always feel cheated when I go to tech events. The speakers just go to the internet and pick stats here and there, then add a few words such as “innovation” , “the next frontier” and bla bla bla. I mean no fresh thinking, no fresh ideas ever introduced to challenge the delegates. Then there are those who the only thing they do is to market their firms, with stats which can not be verified…. If you are speaker at Connected Kenya, please come up with the new ideas and only use the known stats to support the thinking

4. Innovation

Talking of which the word innovation is misused in most tech events. Could we come up with some other terms which best describe what is happening in Kenya…because innovation is not really one of them!!

 

What is your opinion on the topic?
Kennedy Kachwanya
Lead Blogger at Kachwanya.com
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Kennedy Kachwanya is a technology blogger interested in mobile phones both smart and dumb, mobile apps, mobile money, social media, startups ecosystem and digital Savannah. New media must not forget the strength of old tech.
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