ITU-UK Kenya Digital Access Programme (UK-KDAP) Partnering for Effective Connectivity and Broader Digital Inclusion

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This is our opportunity to congratulate and thank the UK Digital Access Programme Partners who include the Ministry of ICT Innovation and Youth Affairs, Departments, Agencies, Civil Society Organizations, the Private Sector and our Global Partners.

Special thanks also goes to Madam PS. Esther Koimett, for accepting our invitation to officiate at this event.  And to our co-hosts for today’s event; the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANET) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – who are one of our esteemed global partners. I also want to acknowledge our UK Government DAP in-house delivery team led by Charles, our DAP Kenya country lead and Digital Access Adviser and Sheena, the UK-Kenya Tech Hub Director.

As you know the theme for today’s event is ‘Partnering for Effective Connectivity and Broader Digital Inclusion’. This is an opportunity for us to consider how we can work collaboratively to harness the power of inclusive digital transformation as an enabler for economic and social development, to improve governance, drive innovation and enable poverty reduction, in particular for those who are often most excluded in society including women, the young and Persons with Disability (PWDs). 

In order to provide some background and context, in 2018/2019, the UK Government designed the Digital Access Programme (or the DAP) in partnership with key stakeholders in five countries following an in-depth diagnosis of digital inclusion barriers and opportunities. The Programme was developed to increase digital inclusion, through the support of systemic enablers and scalable models for affordable last-mile connectivity, digital literacy and skills, and locally-relevant digital content and services.

The main aim of the DAP is to catalyse inclusive, affordable, safe and secure digital access for excluded or underserved populations in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia; and support local digital ecosystems to thrive.  The DAP is structured into three pillars:

Pillar 1 is focused on the ‘Models & Enablers’ needed to facilitate the sustainable expansion of affordable connectivity, digital literacy, skills, locally-relevant content and services for excluded or underserved communities, with an emphasis on gender, disability and broader inclusion. This is facilitated and complemented by key enablers such as enhanced policies and regulatory frameworks, and capacity building of relevant institutions.

Pillar 2 is about building ‘Trust & Resilience’ through partner countries’ capacity to prevent and respond to cyber-security harms affecting governments, businesses and citizens.

And Pillar 3 has created a network of Tech Hubs to support ‘Sustainable Digital Ecosystems’ by stimulating local digital economies and supporting tech entrepreneurs to find solutions for local development challenges – creating skilled jobs, and forging partnerships between local start-ups and the international tech sector.

While these pillars frame all of our interventions, in early 2020, the DAP, like many others, had to pivot to respond to effects of COVID-19. In Kenya, this meant we worked in collaboration with our government partners and a local expert consultancy, Inspire Africa Initiatives, to design eight COVID-19-related projects. This resulted in a number of the projects that have led us to this point today.

For example, with the Communications Authority of Kenya we were able to provide support to review and update the voice and data services access gaps; support work on the licensing and shared spectrum framework for community networks and forthe new Universal Service Strategy.  With the Kenya ICT Authority we were able to support an assessment of gaps and challenges hindering effective delivery of government services to the vulnerable and marginalized citizens during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and to raise awareness of Cyber-hygiene. And together with the COVID-19 ICT Advisory Committee we supported an advisory opinion on the use of digital signatures to facilitate business and Government services during the pandemic and a model for e-learning to support continued teaching and learning during Covid-19 period and beyond.

Through these and other programmes we have collectively reached over 2 million beneficiaries, including more than 5,000 people living with disabilities and 125 marginalised communities in rural and urban areas of Kenya.

Some of these other projects included empowering ‘Community Health Workers’ to offer digitally-enabled services during the pandemic, providing internet access public ‘hotspots’ in informal settlements in Nairobi, supporting learners with visual impairments through digital tools, enhancing digital employability skills for vulnerable women, providing  locally-relevant digital agricultural content to farmers in Laikipia County, and supporting capacity building for local digital innovators in partnership with the ‘whitebox’ at ICTA – among many other great achievements.

We also continued to build the stakeholder relationships required to enhance the sustainability and scalability of these initiatives, engaging 693 stakeholders across government, private sector and civil society.

Today, we are pleased to indicate that alongside ongoing UK DAP projects co-designed and delivered in collaboration with specialised global partners, we will be joining the Principal Secretary in announcing and launching eleven DAP projects delivered through Government Departments, Agencies and local Partners.

I wish to conclude by thanking everyone for joining us today, and once again special thanks to our Partners for their excellent work.  I look forward to the interactive sessions lined up for the whole of the day! 

These are:

  1. Promoting effective regulation, greater investment and innovative models for school connectivity in underserved communities and for broader digital inclusion in Digital Access Programme (DAP) countries, with the International Telecommunication Union ( ITU).
  2. Increasing spectrum availability for affordable connectivity for those that are still unserved or underserved with the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA).
  3. Building sustainable digital capacity through the application of re-usable tools shaped by the Principles for Digital Development in a DAP partner country (Kenya) with the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL).
  4. Skills for Inclusive Digital Participation for Inclusive Digital Participation with the British Council.
  5. Supporting Community-led Approaches to Addressing the Digital Divide with the Association for Progressive Communications
  6. Building Trust & Resilience of Partnering Country’s to supporting Safe and secure Digital Access with KPMG.