BEIJING – Kenya and Huawei on Monday signed an MoU to accelerate the country’s digital transformation.
The signing done ahead of the Third Belt and Road Initiative High-Level Forum in Beijing, China, was witnessed by President William Ruto and Liang Hua, chairman of Huawei Technologies.
President Ruto said collaboration is essential for the achievement of Kenya’s digital transformation agenda, a key pillar of his 2022 presidential campaign manifesto.
“Our partnership with leading Chinese technology corporation, Huawei, will advance our ICT infrastructure and drive digitisation across key sectors like transportation, e-government, education, and health.
“This partnership is vital for Kenya’s Digital Superhighway and the components of the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda,” the President said on X.
In the Kenya Kwanza Manifesto, digital superhighway was cited as having a critical role in enabling the country to make achievement in the other four pillars of health, agriculture, MSME and financing, as well in enhancing revenue collections through automation of VAT systems.
In this regard, the Kenya Kwanza Alliance committed to universal broadband availability throughout the country within five years.
“We shall increase fast track broadband connectivity across the country by the construction of 100,000km of national fibre optic connectivity network, enhance government service delivery through digitization and automation of all government critical processes and make available 80 percent of government services online and establish Africa Regional Hub and promote development of software for export,” the manifesto says.
Additionally, the alliance promised implementation of the Digital Master Plan adhering to environmental agreements in which Kenya is a signatory and to reduce the cost of calls and data to allow Kenyans, especially the youth, to use online platforms for entertainment, information and business.
The new MoU follows others by the previous administration, notably the May 2017 Huawei and Kenya Government Cloud Collaboration Agreement.
The deal covered how Huawei would build the infrastructure necessary for the Kenyan government cloud services, migrate government data and applications to the government cloud, and create a platform for state departments to share data and better communicate.
This, in effect, would provide a “one-window style solution” for government services and improve government efficiency.
In June 2022, the Communications Authority of Kenya signed a technical cooperation agreement with Huawei on 5G rollout and expansion.
Ezra Chiloba, then director general of the authority, announced on X that the agreement would be renewable every five years and also includes training on emerging technologies, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
The deal came three months after the Kenyan government and Huawei signed an agreement to ramp up information and communication technology skills and capacity in the country.
Earlier in Beijing President Ruto also witnessed the signing of an MoU with China’s Energy International Group to optimize flexibility and reliability of electrical power systems and modernise power generation, transmission lines, distribution lines and substations.
“Renewable energy is the definite power source for the future of humanity. Leveraging China’s technology will enhance our renewable energy production and position Kenya favourably for investment as the world transitions to renewable energy because of climate change,” the President said.
The MoU was signed by Energy Principal Secretary Alex Wachira on behalf of Kenya and Lyu Zexiang for the China Energy International Group.
Ruto said Kenya welcomes China’s support for the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda, and appreciates the interest shown by Chinese companies in key projects in ICT, energy, housing, road and air transport.
He also held talks with LI Xi, a senior member of China’s Communist Party Political Bureau, and agreed on creating a conducive environment for Chinese companies that will undertake projects in Kenya, including road construction, railway expansion and airport modernisation.