24 May 2016

Developing smart policy to spur growth in the Silicon Savannah: An interview with Kenyan ICT Secretary Katherine Getao



Amy Turner - Digital Content Marketer, KNect365

Last week's East Africa Com served as a platform for those in both the private and public sector to meet one another, share ideas, solve challenges and mostly importantly - collaborate. Day one of the event saw one of Kenya's most prominent government and ICT figures deliver the Government Keynote Address. Dr. Katherine Getao serves as ICT Secretary for the Kenyan Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, where she provides strategic direction and advice on numerous ICT issues.    

We sat down with Dr. Getao following her address to talk about developing smart policy, the rise of the Silicon Savannah and what more can be done to spur growth in the East African tech and telecommunications sector.

1) You delivered the East Africa Com Government Keynote Address on smart policy and how it can ignite growth in the technology sector. You opened with a quote by Noam Chomsky: “There is a tremendous gap between public opinion and public policy”. Do you agree, and if so, why historically has this been the case? 

What I tried to communicate later on in my presentation was that the world is moving fast and there are changes in technology that are disrupting traditional industry. Lots of educated, young people have access to information on the internet, are reading about all kinds of things and they know about a broad range of things. 
"More than any other time in history, perhaps, they [governments] are likely to be challenged"
Therefore, you find that nearly everyone has an opinion on nearly every subject, and it’s now challenging for governments to make policy in this space. This is because more than any other time in history, perhaps, they [governments] are likely to be challenged, people are likely to have an opinion, to be concerned about how that particular policy is going to impact them - for good or for ill. As a result, you have to have the confidence as government that the policy you are making is right, even sometimes in the face of negative public opinion about that particular policy.

2) Thus the need for a smart policy. What do you think the key elements of a smart policy are, then?

Smart policy is knowledge-based, and I’m not just talking about the academic knowledge of the field of interest, in this case telecommunications, but also understanding the policy environment - both globally and locally. What’s happening in the sector? How are people using the technology? What are their concerns? What are the positive and negative impacts? 
"The key thing is knowledge - being willing
to listen"
So apart from the big data, there’s also the small data - just the insight of really understanding the technology and where it’s going. There are also other issues, such as: The cost and how you are going to sustain that policy, the ecosystem, how you are going to learn and how you are going to bring your stakeholders in so that they can give wisdom. So, the key thing is knowledge, being willing to listen, to get lots of people to participate and give their opinions.

3) Africa is proving to be fertile ground where the ICT sector is concerned and the origin of the new tech movement can be traced back to Kenya, now being called the Silicon Savannah. How do you think this has come about, and how has Kenya become the epicentre for this movement?

I think there are many things that came together at the same time and some of it was a word I like very much - serendipity. The Kenyan government has obviously traditionally invested a lot in education, and we have a good education system for our youth. We had free primary education, which brought a lot more young people into school. 

We had a tremendous growth in tertiary education, with a fivefold increase in the number of public universities, as well as exponential growth in private universities. Therefore, just at the same time as mobile technology was very rapidly penetrating our market, and the internet was also coming in, the first fruits of this revolution in the education system happened. So they came together at the same time.
"We also have a tradition of tremendous self-confidence. Whether it’s in running marathons or in technology, we don’t feel that we’re runners up, we feel we can be right there at the front"
The second thing I’ll say, Kenyan young people are extremely well-exposed globally. They love their news, they love social media, they love television - so they know what is going on in the rest of the world. We also have a tradition of tremendous self-confidence. Whether it’s in running marathons or in technology, we don’t feel that we’re runners up, we feel we can be right there at the front. 

So this confidence, the education, the energy and confidence of our youth just came together with the growth in technology, the access to the internet and access to cheaper technology. It all just came together at the same time, for good.


4) What do you believe are maybe still the main challenges for ICT and tech growth in East Africa, and specifically in Kenya? 


I think cost is still a challenge, especially the cost of broadband. We need to look at that and see how it can become far more accessible for serious applications and using it for work. Capacity is still a challenge for many people, getting the right skills at the right time. 
"The biggest challenge is moving the innovations to become companies"
But perhaps the biggest challenge is moving the innovations to become companies and growing companies, not just tiny little start-ups. That is still a challenge, creating that ecosystem so there is that growth from a clever innovation. 

I think technology adoption is also a challenge, there are some areas such as mobile money where the whole world knows how well we have adopted it. But we don’t have very many examples, although there are a growing number of examples of technologies that are penetrating to scale.

5) Finally, with regards to the interaction between the private and public sector, are collaborations proving effective enough at forums such as East Africa Com?

Certainly, I think the private sector has a good space in Kenya. Their industry associations are able to meet at least four times a year with the president. He actually sits with them at presidential roundtables and listens to them and responds. He has his cabinet there and they’re given their work plans as per the issues that are being raised by the private sector with our head of state. I don’t think this is true in very many countries, so that’s tremendous support. 

Even our regional processes, the private sector is now integrally involved, and therefore they are very well informed about what the government is doing and they are also able to have a voice about their concerns and about the opportunities that they are looking for in the region.

We also see a growing number of conferences, as you see I am here today to support you, and the [Kenyan] government is always there and willing to share information, willing to listen and willing to meet with the private sector. So I think for the private sector, Kenya and the whole of Africa is a really good place to be at this time.
"East Africa Com has a feel good factor - it is a
nice environment"
East Africa Com is well attended, the majority of the industry partners are here. It combines the sharing and the intellectual input with the exhibitions and there are plenty of spaces for people to talk to each other, which I think is one of the most important things. I think telecommunications is increasingly the engine of growth in our economies and, therefore I am all for a conference such as this one. It keeps us up to speed on the latest information, it helps us network and make contacts. It also has a feel good factor - it is a nice environment.

Keep up to date with all Com World Series news and take part in the conversation over on our social media channels, or comment below:

Website: East Africa Com 2016
Twitter: @AllAboutCom
LinkedIn: East Africa Com: Telecoms, ICT & Digital Media Group

Facebook: Com World Series
Instagram: @ComWorldSeries

19 May 2016

Day 2 highlights at East Africa Com 2016

https://eaafrica.comworldseries.com/


 Amy Turner - Digital Content Marketer, Knect365


This year's East Africa Com was a great success and we would like to thank everyone who took part. Senior executives and VIPs from the telecoms, ICT & digital communities throughout East Africa came together to network, share ideas, collaborate and do business.

This is how day 2 unfolded in the best quotes of the day:


“Safaricom has no direct plans to enter the banking industry”
You heard it here first. This is what Safaricom’s Ken Okwero assured all attendees from the banking and financial sectors today. This telecommunications heavy-weight is doing some major business where their KCB partnered loans are concerned though, with one loan being processed every second by their 23.6 million customers.

“Every Kenyan has a right to information – this drives innovation within our youth”

Nixon M. Gecheo, ICT4D expert and member of the Universal Service Advisory Council, used his Government Keynote Address to highlight the key priorities of the Universal Access Fund, which is to invest KES 500m in broadband connectivity for Kenyan secondary schools.

“People who call their mothers often are more likely to pay back their loans”

I bet you weren’t expecting a quote like this in an East Africa Com round-up. During the m-commerce panel this afternoon, Airpesa founder Segeni Ng’ethe explained to attendees how mobile finance companies such as Branch are using call data and behaviours to ascertain whether their customers are good for a loan.

“Telco is the backbone of M2M”
Saim Afzal of MTN Congo summed up how IoT can be effectively enabled during our Industry Insight session. In essence, without telco and its role in building sufficient infrastructure and capacity, M2M will never be able to be successful in Africa.

“We are no longer living in an isolated ecosystem”
During our Finance Leaders Roundtable, Kenya Commercial Bank CIO Avi Mitra stated that rather than seeing M-Pesa as the competition, commercial banks should forge partnerships with mobile money firms, in order to drive financial inclusion in East Africa.


Keep up to date with all our news and take part in the conversation over on our social media channels:

Website: East Africa Com 2016
Twitter: @AllAboutCom
LinkedIn: East Africa Com: Telecoms, ICT & Digital Media Group

Facebook: Com World Series
Instagram: @ComWorldSeries

https://eaafrica.comworldseries.com/

18 May 2016

Day 1 highlights at East Africa Com 2016

https://eaafrica.comworldseries.com/

Amy Turner - Digital Content Marketer, KNect 365 


Day 1 of East Africa Com was a roaring success!

Throughout the course of today's panels, workshops and keynotes, we gained a great insight into the most pertinent developments, challenges and accomplishments of the ICT and tech sector in East Africa. Here is day 1 summed up in 5 quotes:


“Every company is a tech company”

Tony Wood of @First Consulting made this bold statement in his Introduction and Chairman’s Welcome and it rings true. The digital disruption is happening, from start-ups in their infancy to huge multinational corporations.

“The African model is a collaborative one”

The overriding theme of many discussions on day one has been that of synergy and collaboration. This was summed up perfectly by Convergence Partners Chairperson, Andile Ngcaba, during his Investment Briefing.

“I don’t see 5G LTE being rolled out by 2020”

This was the almost unanimous vote of our ‘Beyond Voice and Data’ panel. One or two of the panelists tried to be optimistic, but as Orange Kenya Telkom End-to-End Engineer, Ibrahim Empamba, stated: “We won’t even get to know the 5G LTE frequency until 2019”.

“We don’t think of Netflix as the competition”

Today saw the introduction of East Africa Com’s first ever dedicated broadcast stream. Rather than viewing them as competition, the panel of media and television experts saw the introduction of Netflix to the market as a challenge and an opportunity to introduce high quality, local content to the East African market.

“We believe connectivity is a basic human right”

Intelsat’s Brian Jakins gets to the crux of the matter and highlights that fact that nearly all major telecoms and tech projects have a similar objective - connecting the last mile. In case you missed it, you can read about Intelsat's Globalized Network here.


Tomorrow we'll have another highlight round up, with a full event report to come.

For those who couldn't make it today head down to the Radisson Blu, Upper Hill Nairobi tomorrow to benefit from the great content, networking and supplier exhibits and showcases.

East Africa Com runs until 19 May. Visit our website for further information.

Stay up to date and join in the conversation on all out social media channels -

Twitter: @AllAboutCom
LinkedIn: East Africa Com: Telecoms, ICT & Digital Media Group

Facebook: Com World Series
Instagram: @ComWorldSeries

17 May 2016

What to expect at East Africa Com 2016



By Amy Turner - Digital Content Marketer, KNect365

https://eaafrica.comworldseries.com/

There’s less than 24 hours to go until the start of East Africa Com 2016 and some of the biggest movers and shakers in the tech and digital ecosystem have begun to descend upon the ‘Silicon Savannah’ for two days of unparalleled insight into the East African ICT and telecoms sectors.

The event will be bringing the region’s government leaders, telco and tech decision-makers and some of the keenest analytical minds in the areas of research and innovation together under one roof. In doing so, this will be the biggest event of its kind in East Africa.

It will be a melting pot of the most cutting edge technologies, ideas and solutions which will facilitate and accelerate growth and development in the areas of connectivity, infrastructure, big data, financial services and digital broadcasting, to name but a few. 


https://eaafrica.comworldseries.com/

Day 1

This year sees the introduction of the first ever dedicated digital TV stream. The most prominent names in the space will be sitting down together to take part in a panel discussion on how to successfully launch a TV channel in the digital age. Moderated by technology editor and anchor of NTV Kenya, Larry Madowo, this workshop session will hone in specifically on sports content, in order to underpin discussions on procuring and producing content for a multiplatform environment. The focus here is a truly pan-African one, as we look at how best to customise content for an African audience, as well as determining whether current business models support local production and content creation. 

Also, does Netflix fit an African context, and if so, is it a threat or actually a benefit to the industry? Our panellists will be hashing it out.

This year we are fortunate to welcome key government figures who are spearheading the digital revolution in East Africa through their involvement in developing smart policies to connect the underserved and actualise the ICT4D culture. 


Kenyan ICT Secretary, Dr Katherine Getao, will be delivering the Government Keynote on Day 1, which will deal with developing a smart policy for growth, while Nixon M. Gecheo of the Communications Authority of Kenya will present the achievements of the Universal Access Fund in serving the previously underserved, in his Government Keynote on day 2.

Industry leaders will also be taking the stage at East Africa Com 2016, where Huawei’s Nigel Bruin will highlight the socioeconomic benefits of a National Broadband Network in Eastern Africa and alongside government’s regulatory policies, rollout affordable broadband services. 


https://eaafrica.comworldseries.com/

East Africa Com will also serve as a space to forecast emerging technology trends in Africa. Chairman of Convergence Partners, Andile Ngcaba, will be delivering his investment briefing on what we can expect on the African digital horizon; from broadband growth and smart cities to data protection.

Day 2
Day 2 will be hosting an exclusive CIO roundtable discussion; bringing CIO’s together to assess their roles and responsibilities in a competitive digital age, and the possibility of innovating the East African digital sphere utilising Cloud, IoT, big data, social and mobility. 


We’ve invited a selection of East Africa’s financial and ICT heavy-weights to convene a meeting on the digital transformation of financial services to mobile and leveraging new partnerships, in order to forge a successful transition to mobile banking solutions.

East Africa Com 2016 will serve to spur debate, forecast trends, source solutions, forge contacts and open up possibilities - with East Africa placed in the very epicentre of this tech and digital sphere. 


https://eaafrica.comworldseries.com/

With all this on the cards, let’s not forget that the event also provides a multitude of opportunities to meet and forge meaningful business relationships through our networking sessions and engaging exhibitions from our partners. This year even sees the addition of a exclusive poolside after party on day 1.

We look forward to welcoming you to East Africa Com 2016. Keep up-to-date with all the latest news and updates about the event here on our blog, as well as on all our social media channels. You can take part in the Twitter conversation using the hashtag #EastAfricaCom2016. 


East Africa Com
18 - 19 May 2016
Radisson Blu Hotel
Nairobi
Kenya

Website: East Africa Com 2016
Twitter: @AllAboutCom
LinkedIn: East Africa Com: Telecoms, ICT & Digital Media Group

Facebook: Com World Series
Instagram: @ComWorldSeries

14 May 2016

Encouraging financial inclusion through technology-led microinsurance services


By Dipak Patel - Sr. Manager Presales, Panamax

http://www.panamaxil.com/The insurance industry constantly needs to evolve and address the critical needs of their existing and potential customers. As such, tailored services are the talk of the town and are highly attractive to customers. In order to encourage financial inclusion in regions such as Africa, insurance companies need to adapt and introduce an insurance that people can afford. This is where the microinsurance model can be hugely beneficial.


Understanding microinsurance
 


Microinsurance is an insurance that is tailored to suit the specific needs of low-income groups or the urban poor in developing economies. Saying that microinsurance will reduce poverty might sound like an overstatement, yet it's not erroneous to suggest that microinsurance would undoubtedly help those with a limited income cope with unforeseen expenses in the areas of health, property, automobiles and agriculture, amongst others. It will also aid in including more people in developing countries into the financial ecosystem.   

The ramifications for businesses

First of all, businesses need to understand that this is not a CSR activity or a charity model. On the contrary, there are many business benefits tagged to microinsurance. Introducing microinsurance will help insurance services penetrate more deeply into the market and cover all those potential customers who cannot afford huge premium payments. This, in turn, generates profits for insurance companies. In addition to profits, the insurance providers can tap into a larger, more diversified risk pool and also earn a more solid reputation. Additionally, these insurance providers enjoy the 'first mover' advantage and can fortify a sustained growth in developing markets. 


http://www.panamaxil.com/

Driving microinsurance deep into the ecosystem using mobile finance technology


In order to facilitate sustainable growth, to include more people who actually need microinsurance into the fabric, and to tap into the emerging opportunities on the continent - innovation, agility, and collaboration are important. These should be applied to see how microinsurance can be distributed across Africa.

Distribution drives microinsurance and without it, even a high quality product is rendered irrelevant. Therefore, it is important to select a distribution channel that is appropriate for your target market. When there is the lack of proper mass distribution channels, then reaching out to people who need microinsurance can be a huge struggle.

Mobile microinsurance (MMI) is the savior in this instance. MMI is successfully used by agent-led models, bank-led models, MNO-led models and business models to run successful insurance services. While agent-led models are popular in Asia Pacific, and bank-led models in emerged markets, in Africa we have seen a surge in the popularity and success of an MNO-led model. 


http://www.panamaxil.com/

The MNO-led model - A success story in Africa

MNOs in Africa lead the way to the mass adoption of microinsurance. According to The Landscape of Microinsurance in Africa report (2015), mass market channels (specifically MNOs) are common for microinsurance distribution. The report indicates that more than 200 providers from 36 countries, out of the total 52 countries in Africa, reported some kind of microinsurance activity. A total of USD 647 million was spent on microinsurance premiums. Around 5.4% of the total population was covered and about 61.9 million people were insured.

Today MNOs are not merely providing a delivery channel, they are driving MMI development. Previously, MMI was used by insurers only as a tool to expand their customer base, but today mobile microinsurance is largely used by MNOs to build customer loyalty and reduce churn in an increasingly competitive voice market.

Mobile network operators (MNOs) are taking charge, as often as the insurers. Around one-third of deployment (equal to insurers) is led by MNOs. The remaining is driven by banks, governments and third parties. Today, MNOs are actively involved in the branding, marketing and development of MMI products and establishing a front-end relationship with customers, thus playing a role that is more etched and evolved than simply being a distribution channel.

Clearly, mobile finance technology is the driving force behind deep penetration of microinsurance amongst the low-income and urban poor population. Mobile microinsurance solutions enable insurance companies to offer a wide range of services and products over mobile, with or without agent intervention. This also offers customers the convenience to choose options that will cover them, yet still not force them to pay for deductibles they will probably never use. 


About Dipak Patel:

www.linkedin.com/in/dipak1432003Dipak has been in the telecommunications sector for more than 10 years. He currently serves as Sr. Manager Pre-sales at Panamax. Panamax is a leading technology company offering innovative & market-proven telecom switching, carrier business automation and mobile financial solutions. Dipak has shouldered various responsibilities, in Support, Operations, Training, & Pre-sales departments in the organisation.

Dipak is passionate about mobile finance solutions, and providing expert guidance to team members, customers and partners has always been his expertise. His penchant for cutting edge technologies, together with his passion in delivering outstanding solutions, is what drives him forward.

Dipak is visiting East Africa Com as a representative of Panamax Inc. Meet him at booth number 9. You can also send him an email at sales@panamaxil.com to schedule a meeting at the event.

Webisite: www.panamaxil.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/panamax_inc
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dipak1432003

East Africa Com will be taking place in Nairobi between 18 -19 May, 2016.

9 May 2016

Three ways the Globalized Network will connect businesses and communities in Africa



 By Brian Jakins - Regional Vice President, Intelsat Africa


It’s no understatement to say the infrastructure of Africa is complicated. The continent’s topology, economics and regulatory environments vary by country and region  – which is no minor detail with 52 countries and thousands of different ethnic groups across the continent. As a result, serving the disparate needs of enterprises, governments and communities across Africa can be a challenge for mobile providers and network operators.

This is where the Intelsat Globalized Network – with its integrated satellite and terrestrial technology, services and capabilities – enables operators in Africa to open new markets, drive new revenue streams and ensure their customers enjoy the most reliable broadband communications. 


Here are just three of the hurdles facing network operators in Africa today:
  1. Increasing broadband demands – throughout Africa, mobile data consumption is on the rise. More and more people are watching TV and videos on their mobile devices. In fact, more Africans watch videos on mobile screens than on television screens. The rise of apps such as Snapchat and WhatsApp are adding to the pressure for data connectivity, putting a strain on the mobile networks.
  2. Increasing costs of infrastructure and management – more and more network operators are shying away from infrastructure investments. In some areas – particularly in Western Africa – a tougher economic climate is spurring operators to outsource more in order to focus on brand management, adding revenue-generating activities and shareholder returns.
  3. Increasing complexities – with more technologies and services coming into the region, determining the right solutions to solve communications challenges can be complicated.


Yet at the same time, there are many opportunities for network operators in the region. With terrestrial broadband coverage expanding in many African countries, high-throughput satellites (HTS), like the Intelsat EpicNG platform, will unlock new markets and applications for mobile providers. The launch of our second Intelsat EpicNG satellite, Intelsat 33e (IS-33e), slated for later this year, will bring a technological step change and commercial flexibility for our customers to address some of these challenges to meet their business needs and that of the communities they serve.

For example, remote areas of Africa don’t have the populations to justify connecting them to central terrestrial networks. However, with high-power spot beams of Intelsat EpicNG, those economies will be improved, providing internet access for previously inaccessible areas of the market. This is because the kits required to receive signals from our HTS spot beams are smaller and more portable than those necessary for connecting to wide beams, making them easier to install in remote areas. Moreover, many of these kits are solar-powered, which makes them usable in areas where power supply can be unpredictable.  

With IS-33e, we can better address the domestic broadband via satellite market in Africa. Whereas today, broadband delivery is focused on a few core markets with terrestrial connections, our HTS solution will allow telcos in the different markets to offer a uniform Internet service that can serve a lot of people.


New managed services, such as our IntelsatOne Flex for Enterprise offering, help network operators stay ahead of their customers’ emerging demands. Ours is a managed service that allows regional and global providers to access and incorporate HTS into their networks, seamlessly and with great control and scalability. IntelsatOne Flex allows network operators to outsource the complex tasks of terminal installation and network integration. At the same time, they can reduce expenses by flexibly allocating bandwidth to meet surges in demand or new geographic requirements.

There is no doubt that broadband connections will expand to more African households, but to eliminate the barriers between countries, organizations and people, it takes more than just global connections – it takes a Globalized Network. With HTS and other technologies imminent, it’s easy to imagine delivering connections to mobile Wi-Fi hotspots on buses or feeding data to soda vending machines with a massive data broadcast services. In Africa, where Intelsat has acted and operated traditionally, we will remain, but we will also evolve – and make it easier for anyone to connect or work with anyone else, anywhere in the world. 

About Brian Jakins:

Brian Jakins is a speaker at this year's East Africa Com and leads Intelsat’s sales activities in Africa, overseeing a sales team with offices in Sandton, South Africa, and Dakar, Senegal. He supports the growth of Intelsat’s broadband, mobility and media customers in the region and is also responsible for the design and implementation of the company’s sales strategy and business development across the continent.

East Africa Com Silver Sponsor Intelsat operates the world’s first Globalized Network, delivering high-quality, cost-effective video and broadband services anywhere in the world. Its Globalized Network combines the world’s largest satellite backbone with terrestrial infrastructure, managed services and an open, interoperable architecture to enable customers to drive revenue and reach through a new generation of network services. ways in which we live.

Visit the East Africa Com website to book your place today.

Intelsat: www.intelsat.com
Twitter: Intelsat

This article originally featured on the Intelsat blog.