Kenya: Update on the Kenya Digital Economy Strategy

ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa (EA) recently submitted our contribution analysing the Digital Economy Strategy (the Strategy) to the Ministry of Information, Communication, Technology, Innovation and Youth Affairs in Nairobi.

This Strategy is a persuasive document which is integral to the Republic of Kenya’s long-term socio-economic and ICT development. Crucially, the Strategy encourages multiple sectors and stakeholders in Kenya to develop roadmaps geared towards ushering Kenya into the Fourth Industrial Revolution (or 4IR), and provides a blueprint for Kenya’s continued immersion into the digital economy.

ARTICLE 19 EA is firmly convinced that the Strategy is integral to the protection and promotion of a wide array of human rights, including freedom of expression, privacy and data protection, Internet access and affordability.

The Strategy also provides Kenya with a platform to solidify her role as a human rights leader in the region.  Kenya is a member of the Smart Africa Alliance Initiative  and plays a strong role on the approach to digital economy .

However, while the  Strategy provides guidance which can be expounded at an individual and sectoral level  serious shortcomings exist including:

  1. The Strategy has yet to be firmly grounded in the national, regional and international human rights obligations and standards, relating to numerous rights, including freedom of expression, privacy and data protection, access and affordability, amongst others. Significant revisions are necessary to ensure that all of its objectives and initiatives are aligned with and protect and promote human rights standards and Kenya’s international obligations.
  2. The Strategy is not an exclusive public-private partnership, as alluded to in various sections. It is imperative that a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach be adopted throughout the Strategy to ensure ownership by a wider group of stakeholders. Specifically, we note that this ownership is best guaranteed by encouraging participation across the whole spectrum of the Strategy preparation stages.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Ministry of ICT to revise the Strategy relying on the recommendations outlined below.

  1. The Strategy requires significant revisions to ensure that all of its objectives and initiatives are aligned with and protect and promote human rights standards and Kenya’s international obligations.
  2. The Strategy should explicitly reference the Universal Service Fund and expound how this mechanism will be used to promote the objectives and initiatives under the Infrastructure pillar, and other relevant chapters.
  3. The Strategy must ensure that the ‘Digital Skills’ pillar shifts its heavy focus from ICT professionals to the general public in its entirety.
  4. The Strategy should ensure that the digital skills of lower-skilled workers are prioritised and honed, permitting their heightened use of digital platforms and immersion into the digital economy.
  5. The Strategy should be expanded to ensure that specific and actionable measures are taken to ensure that digital inclusion is pursued for a wider group of marginalised persons in Kenya.
  6. The Strategy needs to properly define the governance model and ensure adherence to the spirit and intent of multi-stakeholder governance and leadership.

Contact

For more information, please contact:

Mugambi Kiai – Regional Director, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa at [email protected]

 

 

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