Partnering for Effective Connectivity and Broader Digital Inclusion

ITU, KICTANet – UK Kenya Digital Access Programme Partners’ Open Day
Theme: Partnering for Effective Connectivity and Broader Digital Inclusion
Date: Tuesday, 4th May 2022 | 8:30-17:00 EAT
Place: Strathmore University and via Zoom

Introduction.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in collaboration with Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) and United Kingdom’s Digital Access Programme (DAP) partners in Kenya are pleased to host a UK-DAP partners’ open day on Partnering for Effective Connectivity and Broader Digital Inclusion.

The event, which aims to strengthen partnerships around the Digital Access Programme among existing DAP partners and beyond, will be held at Strathmore University and co-hosted by ITU and the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet).

Background.
With the common goal of supporting the connectivity of those who are still unconnected and contributing to the meaningful connectivity of those who have yet to benefit from the digital economy, the United Kingdom’s Digital Access Programme collaborates with ITU and regional and local partners in Kenya to catalyze affordable inclusive safe secure digital access for excluded populations by supporting systemic enhancements and testing sustainable models. Mainstreamed into the above domains is the sensitization and capacity building involving responsible digital access through practising cyber hygiene and cyber security behaviors change especially considering the vulnerability of the targeted excluded populations.
The UK-DAP partnership with ITU and other regional and local partners focuses on work in five countries: Kenya, Indonesia and Nigeria, with some targeted activity in Brazil and South Africa. Out of the five, three countries of focus have significant overall digital inclusion gaps. As of January 2020, internet penetration, population and connectivity gaps were as follows:

  • Kenya 43% of 53.7 million people (30.6 million without access to the internet)
  • Nigeria 42% of 206.1 million (119,538,000 without)
  • Indonesia 64% of 273.5 million (98,460,000 without)

Kenya has made significant strides in closing the connectivity gap. Notable is the increase in the use of mobile technology and mobile internet penetration, perhaps driven in part by improved national ICT infrastructure, mobile broadband penetration, increased electricity coverage, and low-cost smartphones. As a result, the internet is transforming a variety of economic sectors, including education, health, agriculture, and financial services. Overall, the usage of digital technologies contributes significantly to Kenya’s GDP. Schools are increasingly utilizing digital tools, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many educators and learners to embrace digital technologies in order to continue learning during lockdowns. Schools that would not have benefited from broadband are now able to reap those benefits thanks to the Communications Authority of Kenya, which has for the past five years been providing financial and advisory support to connect public schools across Kenya’s 47 counties to broadband.

The country’s Digital Economy Blueprint steers the stakeholders towards the realization of a successful and sustainable digital economy. The ICT policy framework and implementation strategy and the National Broadband Strategy further support Kenya’s transformation into a globally competitive knowledge-based society enabled by broadband connectivity. The process to date has benefited from the multi-stakeholder engagement between government and relevant private sector stakeholders, as well as strong leadership from the Ministry of ICT, the Communications Authority and other government and private sector stakeholders in the digital ecosystem.

Despite this progress, there are still significant gaps: not only is connectivity far from universal but there are noteworthy gaps in infrastructure coverage particularly in rural areas, affordability, energy reliability and other factors across and within the 47 counties.
The importance of internet connectivity in allowing people to access critical information, continue their education, work, and maintain social communication cannot be overstated. Notably, the COVID-19 pandemic imposed sudden and radical shifts that affected all aspects of our lives, forcing people all over the world to innovate in how they work, learn, and conduct business. This highlighted the critical importance of accelerating connectivity initiatives for schools and communities and developing necessary skills for employment in a digital world.

The first phase of the ITU-UK DAP partnership in Kenya (1 April 2021 – 30 June 2022) aimed to address the digital gap by focusing on school connectivity (and, by extension, the host communities for those schools), as well as the digital skills gap to increase young people’s employability, working with employers to create quality jobs, and sparking young people’s interest in entrepreneurship across all sectors of the digital economy.

The project, which has several stakeholders, focuses on four key pillars:

  1. Regulatory analysis, framework and tool development to support digital inclusion objectives in selected partner countries.
  2. Promoting sustainable models to expand school connectivity in underserved communities
  3. Promoting a more conducive environment for (private and public) investment in digital inclusion.
  4. Advancing digital skills as a means to decent jobs, especially for young people

The proposed forum aimed to further foster partnerships around the United Kingdom’s Digital Access Programme, among existing DAP partners and beyond, provides an opportunity to share findings from the aforementioned pillars, and to discuss additional areas of work and collaboration for digital inclusion.

Objective.
The DAP partners’ open day on partnering for effective connectivity and broader digital Inclusion serves to present the work that has been conducted in Phase 1 of the partnership; to reflect upon the impact that the partnership has had in the region and the plan to scale this impact with a joint effort.
The roundtable will be structured around the following themes:

  • Systemic Enhancement: Enabling environment and Sustainable business and financing models for connectivity;
  • Supply and demand: Digital government services, Local relevant digital content, Digital literacy and skills; and,
  • Cross-cutting: Cyber hygiene and cybersecurity

Expected outcome.
The expected outcome is a shared understanding of how collaborative regulation and partnership for digital inclusion, innovative sustainable models for school and community connectivity, and the Internet contribute to social-economic development, especially for the marginalized, rural and remote dwellers, persons with disabilities, women, and youth. In addition, the event will bring government and relevant stakeholders in the Kenyan digital ecosystem to reflect upon the impact the DAP partnership has had in the region and the plan to scale this impact with a joint effort.

Audience.
The roundtable targets to bring together at least 100 key stakeholders including the ITU, KICTANet, UK DAP partners in Kenya, representatives from the Ministry of ICT and Youth Affairs and Ministry of Education, representatives from the Communications Authority of Kenya, ICT Authority, and the national communications secretariat, development partners, private sector stakeholders in the Kenya digital economy ecosystem such as licensed service provider representatives from Konza Technopolis, TESPOK – Technology Service Providers of Kenya, technical community, professional associations, civil society, and representatives from academia to enhance partnerships, sharing of knowledge and emerging good practices.

Practical information.
Format of the event.
This will be a face-to-face discussion at Strathmore University in Nairobi. Although in-person attendance is strongly encouraged, the roundtable will also enable remote participation to accommodate participants who are unable to travel to Nairobi from other parts of the country and in the region. There will be panel discussions followed by a plenary session. Key recommendations shall be consolidated into a policy brief which will be shared with stakeholders.

Languages: The working language of the meeting will be English.

Registration: All participants need to come to the event with their confirmation of registration.

Arriving at the venue: All participants are asked to arrive by 8:45 am. Use Gate B on Keri Road. The security guards will ask for your name and identification and will check it against the confirmed list of participants. They will then direct you to the reserved parking, then to the Transcentury Auditorium at the Strathmore University Business School.

RSVP Contact : regina.nkonge at itu.int , christine.sund at itu.int , kivuva at kictanet.or.ke, charles.juma at fcdo.gov.uk

Agenda.

08:00 – 08:45 VIP’s visit to Kenya Society for Blind Training to see Digital Skilling for PWDs
08:45 – 09:00 Travel to Strathmore University 
09:00 – 09:10 Welcome note
09:10 – 09:40 Opening remarks and UK-DAP partnership overview
09:40– 10.00 Keynote address
10:00 – 11:00 Sustainable business and financing models for connectivity 

Discussion on models for school and community connectivity (current approaches, successes and challenges), and exchange thoughts around how to sustainably finance school and community connectivity so that such projects go beyond seed funding. 

11:00 – 11:30  Tea break – Strathmore University Business School Atrium
11:30 – 13:00

 

Systemic enhancement and enabling environment for last-mile internet connectivity

An exchange on the Kenya regulatory landscape, including a focus on Universal Service Fund Strategy, Universal service financing efficiency experiences and best practices (local and global perspectives).

Explore Last mile connectivity (gaps and efforts to fill those gaps) with a focus on sharing approaches and experiences to date and challenges to adequately identify infrastructure/connectivity gaps.

Lunch break (13:00 – 14:00)
14:00 – 15:20 Supply and demand: Digital government services, Local Relevant digital content and digital literacy and skills

An exchange on the enabling role of connectivity, and digital/information technologies in meeting business challenges; examine government services and other digital services in the country (supply versus demand); explore the state of digital skilling to promote innovation and better maximization of those services.

15:20 – 16:00 Plenary session

Open discussion

16:00 – 16:30 Wrap up and next steps 

 

 

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