The World Bank has announced it has approved USD390 million in financing for the first phase of a programme in Kenya that aims 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. The Kenya Digital Economy Acceleration Project will use a multi-phase programmatic approach with two phases. The first phase will run from 2023-2028, focusing on expanding access to high speed internet, improving the quality and delivery of education and selected government services, and building skills for the regional digital economy, while phase two will run from 2026-2030 and focus on building a data driven and secure environment for enhanced digital service delivery and innovation for the regional digital economy. The project will also mobilise an estimated USD100 million in private capital by crowding-in the private sector for broadband infrastructure development. The project will increase access to broadband through an expansion of the fibre-optic backbone and last mile connectivity to government and learning institutions, as well as along Kenya’s borders, benefiting the regional digital market.
‘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,’ said Keith Hansen, World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda, adding: ‘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.’ Tim Kelly, Lead Digital Development Specialist at the World Bank commented: ‘The initiative will increase last mile connectivity by boosting broadband network coverage for over 70% of Kenya’s population that resides in rural and underserved areas… Kenya’s digital agenda, reflected in the ambitious ICT Master Plan, aims to transform the country into a regional ICT hub by increasing fibre-optic coverage to 100,000km and digitising 80% of public services.’