The World Bank said on Thursday that it has approved 390 million U.S. dollars in financing to help boost Kenya’s digital economy.
The World Bank said the money will be used in the first phase of a program to expand access to high-speed internet, improve the quality and delivery of education and selected government services, and build skills for the regional digital economy.
Keith Hansen, World Bank country director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda, said the Kenya Digital Economy Acceleration Project aims to help make Kenya’s growth more equitable by shrinking disparities in digital skills and connectivity, and expanding the digital marketplace.
“Broadening access to digital technologies and services is a cross-cutting pathway to accelerate economic growth and job creation, improve service delivery and build resilience,” Hansen said in a statement issued in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
A pupil uses a tablet at Kolifar Primary School in Gilgil, Nakuru, Kenya, Jan. 24, 2018. (Xinhua/Sheikh Maina)
The bank said the project will use a multi-phase programmatic approach in two phases, where Phase 1 will run from 2023-2028. Phase 2 will run from 2026-2030, concentrating on building a data-driven and secure environment for enhanced digital service delivery and innovation for the regional digital economy.
It said the project will also mobilize an estimated 100 million dollars in private capital by crowding in the private sector for broadband infrastructure development.
According to the lender, while Kenya has made impressive gains, there remains a persistent digital divide in access to broadband, digital public services, and the skills needed for individuals and businesses to thrive in an increasingly digitized economy and society.
It added that Kenya needs the economies of scale and network effects of a larger and more competitive regional market to achieve its vision of becoming one of the premier digital investment and innovation hubs on the African continent.