[urgent concerns about the economic risks of GoK facilitating or allowing such an exercise without a comprehensive legislative framework or strategy] Online discussion on social-economic impact of broadband in Kenya

Dear Listers,
Some urgent observations and concerns…
IDC is apparently a private, Market Intelligence Multinational Corporation that conducts market research to collect valuable COMPETITIVE DATA, which it then packages and SELLS (e.g. in various reporting formats) as its own “products”, to whoever is interested (possibly including countries or corporations that compete with Kenya, or are potential competitors, or can contribute materially, to the irreversible erosion of valuable international competitive advantage for Kenyan businesses, denying our country much needed forex revenues).
Huawei is an MNC vendor that provides broadband equipment and/or services (which I believe includes content platforms and/or services). It likely has a commercial interest in this initiative and stands to gain materially – whether directly or indirectly, IMO.
What exactly is Government’s role in this and what measures have been put in place to ensure that Kenya’s interests, Public interests, are fully protected? Or are we willing to happily give out to a foreign company what could potentially be the country’s most valuable intellectual resource (our national trade secrets in the form of market intelligence data)? 
There is a reason why high income countries don’t do things this way. Even Nations need COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE to compete effectively in international markets! This is so critical prosperous Nations continuously identify (and vigorously protect) NATIONAL TRADE SECRETS as critical and STRATEGIC NATIONAL ASSETS. 
Are we not aware that Africa’s poverty is self sustaining because we consistently ignore (or grossly underestimate the value) the most essential fundamentals of economic prosperity (e.g. property rights)? 
Are we really incapable of conducting our own analyses, strategies and market studies? Are we really unable to set our own agendas and priorities for our (and our children’s) long term prosperity?
As we move towards 4iR, the ability to compete internationally within the digital realm will be critial and paramount. Given this knowledge, is it wise for government to encourage or facilitate (or even allow) the mining of indigenous ideas and market intelligence data by foreign corporations without demonstrating full awareness of (and concern about) the strategic implications?
The 3 working days notice is very telling – and a good reason for boycotting the exercise. When you don’t want someone to participate (or dont care much for their inputs), you give them the shortest notice possible. Has it been considered that this short-notice approach can contribute to speculations that there is already a parallel document whose findings and recommendations have already been made – and we are now working backwards to get stakeholder rubberstamp for “ownership” purpose, pending to release?
The above will hopefully concern local content producers as well: Knowing how procurement and importation opportunities drives initiatives or “interventions” in Kenya, Is this “study” a precursor that lays ground, at policy level, for a flood of imported content platforms and foreign content? Can this issues be credibly discussed in a (potentially conflicted) vendor driven process?
Is there an internationally enforceable legal and/or contractual framework for this initiative to ensure that any data, trade secrets or any information that is potentially sensitive or valuable to Kenya’s economy (in secret form) is protected and that we will not lose intellectual property or national competitive advantage – in the long, mid and short term?
From an audit perspective, has it been considered that the vendor leading the initiative has been accused by the US Government of allegedly having material conflicts of interest that could impact the national competitiveness of entire countries (e.g. risk of unauthorised collection of sensitive economic or other data)? 
Has GoK Auditor General and other relevant Government agencies formally studied the US Government allegations, to *objectively* ascertain veracity, given GoK’s apparent close relationship with the company? Has the Government established a formal position on the issue? Had the company been formally cleared to lead potentially sensitive data mining initiatives in Kenya in view of Kenya’s strategic and public interests?
Why is this “debate” is happening AFTER the National Broadband Strategy has been validated and the public participation process concluded? Are there linkages to NBS? What are they and why should a foreign corporation drive these linkages and end up owning and selling our competitive market intelligence data (in total violation of our Constitution’s requirement that Government has a CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY to protect Intellectual Property)?
There could be other issues / risks that are not articulated above and I invite takeholders to reflect deeply and share their thoughts in public interest.
I also invite Government stakeholders to please clarify any area of misunderstanding in the issues stated above, from a public interest perspective. 
Hopefully GoK will take over this exercise and do it properly as a strategically sensitive public sector project – starting with a demand-side-stakeholder identification, sensitization, and onboarding exercise across the entire country – coupled with a parallel (but linked)  initiatives to ensure holistic and strategic legal or rules framework that considers holistic issues at the demand side and their impact on supply side. 
Stakeholders need to start pushing back more vocally on short-term patchworks of supplier driven interventions (which create more problems elsewhere via unplanned consequences) otherwise we will always be complaining that government is doing X yet we never guided the government on what is the right path.
We need a National Economic Materplan for ICT from which, and to which, all initiatives can be traced and measured using meaningful economic metrics and feeding into Vision 2030 and Big four – without risking our longer term competitiveness. What happens *after* 2030 (only a decade away)?

Let us build self-confidence in our ability to architect our own strategies and solutions. I have seen & met so many brilliant minds in stakeholder forums/events and there is not a speck of doubt in my mind that we have more than enough talent and brains as a country to guide us out of mass poverty and into mass prosperity. 
We need to start believing in the power of ideas.. and in ourselves, that *we can* do things, and let us hold on to hope / optimism, no matter how little, that the artificial impediments (e.g. corruption, nepotism, powerful lobbying and brazen impunity) which keep our country poor, can (and will) one day, be overcome.
Have a great evening,Brgds,Patrick.
Patrick A. M. Maina [Cross-domain Innovator | Independent Public Policy Analyst – Indigenous Innovations]

On Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 2:25:44 PM GMT+3, Mwendwa Kivuva via kictanet <kictanet@lists.kictanet.or.ke> wrote:

Dear Listers,

IDC is conducting an assessment on the state of play and impact of broadband in Kenya, broadly looking at the socio-economic impact on consumers, businesses and various sectors like agriculture, education, healthcare, finance and government. This assessment has been commissioned by Huawei in collaboration with Ministry of ICT and the Communications Authority. It has the overarching objective of supporting the policy making process to develop broadband services and infrastructure throughout Kenya and achieve substantial economic impact in the economy. Other partners in the study include the ICT Authority and the National Communications Secretariat.

 

The assessment will involve a review of the current state of play in the sector as well as gaining insights from a wide range of stakeholders on the barriers and recommendations to increasing the impact of broadband. Among the key stakeholders identified include KICTANET, from whose members IDC will seek to gain civil society and other stakeholder perspectives including real life examples of impact of broadband, challenges we face in increasing impact of broadband and recommendations on interventions needed to address the challenges identified. This will be conducted as an online debate facilitated and moderated by KICTANET from 23rd to 26th April 2019.

Through the online discussion, we will also seek to understand the current state of play of broadband in Kenya, including:

– What barriers are there in increasing impact of broadband?
– What recommendations can counter the barriers in increasing impact of broadband?
– How is the sector regulated and what policies are in place? How is the business environment for those who want to venture into provision of broadband services?
– How do we create the skills and demand and use cases for broadband?
– What local content is there and is it having an impact or not? What type of local content are we lacking?
– How are users and businesses benefiting from broadband?
– Any other issues.

Please note that lister may add any other issue on broadband that come to mind.  After the discussion, a summary report will be developed by KICTANET which will subsequently be validated during a face to face meeting. IDC will incorporate relevant findings into the broadband market assessment.

Sincerely,______________________
Mwendwa Kivuva.
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