To help local start-ups in the mobile telephone software and hardware segments to grow, Kenya’s Minister of Information, Communication and Technology, Joe Mucheru said the government had set aside 1 billion shillings.
At the annual meeting of the ICT industry in the capital Nairobi, Mucheru said he was concerned with figures showing Kenya imports about 50 million telephone handsets every two years. He said it was imperative to challenge local firms to start producing them.
One of the fastest growing sectors in Kenya’s economy is Information Communications and Technology (ICT), this is due to demand for services like high speed internet access and mobile financial services like M-Pesa, operated by Safaricom.
Data from the ministry of information, communication and technology shows Kenya has 45.5 million mobile phone subscribers, who use a range of imported mobile devices from companies like Apple and Huawei. Despite not having a solid industrial base, Kenya has been trying to replace imports with local products in order to save its hard currency and remove pressure on foreign exchange rates.
According to Mucheru, to create incentives for local production, the government will work with firms interested in manufacturing and assembling locally-made phones. He said the partnership will help drive down their cost. Mucheru asked “why can’t we leverage on the skills available locally to manufacture these handsets that are suitable for our markets?”