Notwithstanding that Information Communication and Technologies (ICTs) has ushered in enormous benefits, it is giving rise to a wide range of concerns including security and abuse of use, Kenya’s Minister for Information and Communications, Mr Samuel Poghisio has said.
“As the dependency on ICT increases, identifying and monitoring risks involved in their use has become an important but challenging task,” Mr Poghisio said, explaining “we have already set up mechanisms for identifying, monitoring and evaluating risks involved and we hope to put in place different levels of security measures, especially bearing in mind social sensitivities and the need to secure the data stored or transmitted by electronic means.”
The Minister, who was speaking during the East African workshop on cyberspace security, said that East African governments are focusing their energies on cyber security in order to safeguard investments and turn the region into a knowledge society.
“Kenya has already implemented an Open Data System and we are determined to build capacity in cyber security,” he articulated.
The country has already set up a Computer Emergency Response Team at the Communications Commission of Kenya. A feasibility study has been conducted on the Public Key Infrastructure in place with officials hoping to start its implementation very soon.
The minister spoke to a congregation of security officers and ICT experts from the region, in a workshop that was sponsored by the USA Home Land Security Department in collaboration with the USA embassy in Kenya. He said that in developed countries, ICT has influenced economic growth and employment in many ways.
“ICTs have changed the conditions of industrial development; the structure of the demand for skills; and the relationship between expanding production and employment,” the minister recounted. “By facilitating and rapidly improving the global flows of information, ideas, products, capital and people, Information Communications Technologies have not only created a borderless society, but also redefined a new industrial geography.”
He said there is no doubt that ICTs have simply become a major source of empowerment for the Kenya people. “Therefore much value is added whenever a diverse range of individuals from different countries, sectors and professionals come together like this to focus on technology and our collective future. The impact of ICTs have in shaping the future of the world by reducing geographic boundaries, converging time zones, and bring cultures and societies closer is commendable.”
The Minister said Kenya invented the use of mobile phones in transferring funds. More than 16 million Kenyans are currently using mobile money transfer in the country, significantly reducing the proportion of unbanked people in the population and thus providing a catalyst for economic growth, particularly in rural areas.
“As a result, money supply has significantly improved and created higher liquidity levels in the banking sector to the extent that interest rates for the first time in many years have dropped more than 30 percent,” Mr Pogishio said.
In Kenya, the uptake on utilization of abundant broadband has been phenomenal, the Minister further said, explaining that in a span of only two years, the number of internet users in Kenya has jumped from 3 million to 9 million. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin among others) users in the country moved from 1 million to 5 million. Penetration on mobile phone use increased from 25 percent – which is eight million users three years ago to 60 percent, equivalent of 25 million users currently.
This tremendous impact, Mr Pogishio said, began five years ago when the Government of Kenya invested colossal amounts of money to ensure a world class ICT infrastructure in the country.
The country sponsored the construction of the first Undersea Fibre Optic cable to the region. “In the past three years we have seen two more fibre optic cables land in East Africa,” he pointed out, adding, “to ensure that every Kenyan has access to Broadband, we have laid more than 20,000 kilometres of terrestrial cables. We are now working on the last mile technologies that include 3G, CDMA-EVDO and trials on the latest Long Term Evaluation (LTE) technology.”