Kenya, the African nation is synonymous with its wildlife and tourism. But not many might have compared it with an IT destination. Things are changing here in Africa with the nation’s new project of Vision 2030 conceptualized in 2007. The Vision 2030 project aims at the overall development of the nation around three pillars: Economic, Social and Political. One of the main objectives include developing infrastructureand using technology to emulate the success achieved by countries like India, the Philippines and South Africa in the field of IT outsourcing.
Kenya was the only edge of the world which had no access to undersea internet cables. This was a serious limitation for IT companies who needed access to speedy data transmission technologies for their function. However things changed with the arrival of undersea internet cables to Eastern Africa in 2009. The arrival of these cables have brought reliability and convenience to the Kenyan IT sector and significantly reduced the cost of operation for the organizations. Earlier the companies had to rely on costly satellite communications for the same.
Kenya strategizes to provide niche services to clients in the US and the UK, but not by challenging the bigger players like India and the Philippines. As said to the BBC by Paul Kukubo, a member of the Kenyan Government’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) board, “It is not about taking India’s business away from them. The market is so big globally that the issue isn’t about competition. The source markets – the U. S. and the U. K. – are still looking for high quality, low cost destinations to do business”.
Kenya also shares a similar cultural affinity to countries like US and UK. The young generation of Kenya enjoys the same TV shows and follows the same sport teams as with their counterparts in US and UK. Kenya also follows the British schooling system and has a neutral English accent. Countries like India spend a lot of money on accent training to neutralize English accent. All these are supportive factors for Kenya to grab a spot in the world IT map.
Kenya also has a significant talent pool of young labour. Each year more than 250,000 students graduate from Kenya. Most of them trained to compete in the best global engineering skills at a fraction of the cost in the west. Harnessing their skills by matching them with relevant opportunities will bring the best out of them. Setting up outsourcing incubators in local universties will create better career opportunities and support systems generating thousands of jobs in the coming years. It will also greatly benefit the socio-economic development of the nation along the same lines.
It is a small step, but definitely a strong one! Stepping into the global arena is the need of the hour for Kenya and Africa. Especially for a continent which has seen more famines, crisis and political turmoil, Kenya should hold the torch to lead the other African nations to similar dreams.
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