More funding for ICT sector to boost access for youth


Published on 07/12/2008

By Michael Ouma

Kenya’s spending on the information on the information technology (IT) sector is set to grow in the next three years even though it is currently below the worldwide average, according to figures from software maker Microsoft Corporation.

According to a research commissioned by the global software maker and conducted by the International Data Corporation (IDC) recently, Kenya’s IT spending as a percentage of the country’s GDP currently stands at 1.2 per cent compared to the worldwide average of 2.5 per cent.

However, during a recent Youth Software Development conference organised by the ministry of youth affairs and sports, the Directorate of e-Government and Microsoft with the theme “Software Development for Youth Empowerment,” Microsoft’s East and Southern Africa general manager Mr Louis Otieno said Kenya’s IT spending is set to record an increase during the 2006 to 2011 period.

Mr Otieno said the country’s overall IT spending, which currently stands at Sh21.9 billion with expenditure on software being Sh3.1 billion, is set to increase by 14.2 per cent while expenditure on software would grow by 13.2 per cent by 2011.

NEW PROGRAMMES

Microsoft’s developer and Platform Manager Emmanuel Birech, said the firm had launched three programmes: BizPark, Empower programme and Student2Business, to encourage and support the involvement of the country’s youth in software development. Mr Birech said BizPark allows potential software entrepreneurs to access software that can be used in development of new software while the Empower programme enables the potential software entrepreneurs to develop from start-ups to mature companies.

The Student2Business program, said Birech, picks outstanding candidates from learning institutions and connects them with the firm’s partner organisations for mentorship and entrepreneurial development.

Also supporting the entry of youth into the ICT industry is the Kenya Industrial and Research Development Institute (Kirdi), which recently set up an ICT Incubator in order to build the country’s capacity in software development and BPO industry.

Dr Zakayo Mapelu, Kirdi’s ICT Incubator manager said the institute’s which works under the ministry of industrialisation, main objective for setting up the ICT incubator two months ago was to develop 100 ICT entrepreneurs annually.

Qualifications

The incubation centre hosts the potential entrepreneurs, whose qualifications for getting into the centre include a minimum KCSE certificate and an entrepreneurial spirit, for nine months where the start-ups are protected from the harsh and competitive environment outside.

The incubatees spend 12 weeks on training at Kirdi where to convert their ideas into business models and are trained on project coordination, entrepreneurship and business planning, with the intention of the training being the acquisition of practical skills. Dr Mapelu said the centre currently hosts 16 potential ICT entrepreneurs.

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