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Kenya’s ICT trends for 2024: AI, Cybersecurity, Crypto

By John Walubengo

Further to the 2023 ICT year review blog, we now cast our eyes on the future and try to figure out how AI developments, cybersecurity threats, data privacy, blockchain, and cryptocurrency are likely to pan out within the Kenyan ICT landscape.

AI use gets mainstreamed

Globally, artificial intelligence has become the cornerstone of recent technological evolution, and Kenya will be forced to embrace its potential across various sectors.

From healthcare to agriculture, AI applications are expected to streamline processes, enhance decision-making, and bring about unprecedented efficiencies.

In the healthcare sector, AI has the potential to play a crucial role in diagnostics and personalized medicine. Imagine a scenario where AI algorithms analyse medical data to predict diseases early, optimizing treatment plans for better patient outcomes.

Additionally, AI-driven solutions could bridge the healthcare access gap by supporting remote consultations and diagnostics in underserved regions.

In agriculture, AI-powered precision farming can revolutionize the sector, and already some of this is beginning to be deployed in developing countries. 

Smart sensors, drones, and machine learning algorithms can analyse data on soil health, weather patterns, and crop conditions to optimize farming practices, increase yields, and reduce resource waste.

However, this AI ascendancy raises crucial questions. Ethical considerations loom large as algorithms, often shrouded in opacity, make decisions impacting lives.

The challenge lies in ensuring fairness, transparency, and accountability in these AI-driven systems. Additionally, the displacement of human jobs by automation demands proactive adaptation and reskilling initiatives.

Cybersecurity outlook

While 2023 dealt Kenya a cyber blow with the “Anonymous Sudan” attack, it also served as a wake-up call. 

Kenya will likely witness a surge in cybersecurity investments, with organizations adopting advanced threat detection and response systems as well as investing in cybersecurity awareness and training programs

One should expect a boom in AI-powered cybersecurity solutions—think real-time intrusion detection, automated threat analysis, and self-healing systems.

However, human expertise will remain vital, and collaboration between the public and private sectors will be crucial to creating a united front against cybersecurity threats, attacks, and recovery. 

Data Privacy Outlook

The year 2023 saw Kenyans becoming increasingly aware of their digital footprints following increased sanctions issued by the Data Commissioner Office.

Kenya is likely to see a further heightened focus on data protection regulations and frameworks to safeguard the rights of its citizens.

The public and private sectors, as well as civil society organisations, will need to invest in robust data encryption, secure storage solutions, and transparency in data handling practices. 

Moreover, there will be a growing demand for tools that empower individuals to control and manage their data, ensuring that privacy is not compromised while pursuing technological progress.

Kenya’s regulatory landscape is expected to expand and evolve to keep pace with these developments, with stricter enforcement of data protection laws and more stringent consequences for non-compliance. 

As data breaches become more sophisticated, organizations prioritising data privacy will gain consumers’ trust, fostering a healthier and more sustainable digital ecosystem.

Blockchain and Crypto go beyond buzzwords

The last five years have witnessed a surge in interest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies, fueled by “get rich quick” narratives.

However, 2024 promises a more nuanced understanding of these transformative technologies if the push to have the first regulatory framework around this domain is anything to go by.

While the speculative bubble might deflate, the underlying potential of blockchain remains immense. 

If the proposed Virtual Asset Bill is enacted into law, we expect to see pilot projects exploring blockchain’s ability to streamline, say, land registries, secure financial transactions, and enhance supply chain transparency.

Imagine farmers receiving instant microloans based on their harvest data stored on a secure blockchain, crowdsourcing funds from outside Kenya to invest in affordable housing projects, or even citizens voting securely in elections using blockchain-based platforms.

However, navigating the blockchain and crypto maze will demand extreme caution. 

Stringent regulatory frameworks need to be established to curb fraud, combat money laundering, and protect vulnerable consumers. 

Moreover, educating the public about the risks and potential of cryptocurrencies is crucial to avoid another speculative frenzy.

In conclusion, 2024 will see Kenya standing on the cusp of a remarkable transformation. Artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data privacy, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies are potentially going to shape the future of society in the country. 

To navigate these changes successfully, a collaborative effort between the government, industry players, and the public is imperative. By embracing innovation while addressing ethical and regulatory considerations, Kenya will continue to position itself as a tech leader on the African continent while contributing to the global discourse on the responsible adoption of transformative technologies.

John Walubengo is an ICT Lecturer and Consultant. @jwalu.


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