ICT a key tool for poverty eradication – Matiangi


Dr Fred Matiangi, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, has said ICT is among the tools that Sub-Saharan Africa can use to eradicate perennial poverty.

 Matiangi was speaking today at the East African Communications Organisation (EACO) Congress at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), in Nairobi, on the theme ‘Making broadband work for socio-economic growth in Africa’.

He said: “One of the tools that Sub-Saharan Africa could leverage on to address the high incidence of poverty is ICT, particularly broadband. I deliberately emphasise broadband because of the established capacity of this technology in stimulating economic development.”Matiangi added: “Access to broadband is also associated with cost effective delivery of government services as well as better health and learning outcomes. At the firm level, broadband is associated with increased productivity and profitability of businesses.”The cabinet secretary also hailed this year’s EACO theme, which was relevant in light of the issues.He was also of the opinion that for broadband to be of value to ordinary people, the East African region needs to invest in the development of relevant local content in local languages.“This way, our people will leverage on ICTs to spur efficiency in their productive activities, and thus participate in wealth creation and poverty alleviation.“Already the region is home to a number of innovative ICT applications, including those linking farmers to markets and sources of farm input and expertise,” he noted.The cabinet secretary also said that increasing demand for ICTs in the rural areas is crucial in creating an incentive for service providers and the private sector. This would complement the government’s efforts in facilitating universal access to communication services.

Matiangi also warned however that insecurity within the communication environment will affect people’s confidence in the use of ICT, especially in the era of e-commerce and mobile transactions.He was however happy to note that most countries in the region were at various stages of setting up their Computer Incidence Response Teams (CIRTs).Additionally, SIM card registration has been implemented in most countries in an attempt to stem crimes perpetrated through the use of mobile handsets.Kenya has already deactivated mobile handsets from the networks and outlawed the sale of pre-activate SIM cards.
Matiangi invited the other East African countries to urgently harmonise the implementation of these initiatives so that East Africans can enjoy safe use of ICT.

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