[East Africa Business Week] Bob Koigi: Bridging digital divide, bolstering regional connectivity
As the internet increasingly redefines human relations and penetration takes shape across Africa, the East African region is tapping into the numerous benefits that comes with connectivity.
Governments, private players and development partners are investing in bridging the digital divide gap and boosting connectivity across the region by making low-cost, high-quality internet access available to a critical mass. The end results have been booming local economies and enhanced integration.
Just recently UNICEF and Pan African tech group Liquid Intelligent Technologies announced a partnership in support of Giga’s work to connect every school to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity, and choice.
The partnership will initially focus on Kenya but will aim to incorporate other Liquid markets over time, including South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Rwanda.
To further reach more East Africans with affordable internet connectivity, UNESCO and Huawei have announced the launch of the implementations phase of the Technology-Enabled Open Schools for All (TeOSS) project in Ethiopia.
Aligned with UN SDG4, TeOSS will serve as a basis for powering the digital transformation of the education sector and support the country in building resilient education systems that can withstand global disruptions such as COVID-19.
At the same time, World Mobile, who recently announced their plans to make low-cost, high-quality internet access available to all Zanzibaris, has signed a partnership with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training in Zanzibar to provide free, unlimited internet to schools across the region.
World Mobile has already connected Forodhani, Benbella, Kiwengwa Schools which comprise more than 1,000 students, and has plans to connect 10 more schools by the end of January 2022. The target is to connect all schools in the region by the end of 2022.
In Rwanda, Architecture and engineering firm FBW Group is working with the International School of Kigali (ISK) to create a 21st Century 'green' campus in the Rwandan capital.
The ambitious $5m project will deliver a centre of learning for 500 students, with modern classrooms, state-of-the-art laboratories, a 'maker space' and first-class sports facilities on a 2.3 hectares site in Kibagabaga.
And Africa50, the pan-African investment platform, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) together with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation of Rwanda have unveiled the urban masterplan for the development of the Kigali Innovation City (KIC) project.
The masterplan serves as the blueprint for the 61 hectares KIC site which entails the development and construction of a mixed-use world-class and smart innovation hub, which is aimed at developing cutting-edge solutions to help stimulate economic growth in Rwanda, the region and on a continental basis.
In the agriculture scene, The Norwegian Agency of Development Cooperation (NORAD) has committed $5 million to increase the incomes and build the resilience of small aquaculture farmers in Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania, the International Fund for Agricultural Fund (IFAD) announced.
Elsewhere, Paylend, a Kenyan fintech startup focused on providing access to finance and digitizing MSMEs in Kenya recently announced it has raised $2 million seed investment from Next Chymia Consulting HK Limited, an Asian based company that provides blockchain applications, consultancy services and training to global entities.
And in what points to the growing interest from big businesses to invest in East African SMEs, FSD Africa Investments (FSDAi), the investing arm of FSD Africa, has announced a £3m investment in Kenyan fintech firm IMFact.
IMFact is a non-deposit taking financial institution that uses supply chain financing to provide working capital to SMEs.
And Kenya’s fintech startup Tanda recently partnered with Twiga Foods that will see Twiga vendors become a one-stop-shop for a variety of digital and financial services offered by Tanda.
This comes a few months after Tanda launched the Tanda I/O, a new platform for developers to embed digital and financial services on their applications.