So today was a rather interesting and tiresome day, I was at the ICTExpo 2007 being held at the KICC(Kenyatta International Conference Center). The ICTExpo 2007 is meant to be a showcase of Kenya as a region of ICT and a hub for outsourcing. The government is eager to position Kenya as the prime destination of ICT investment in the region, and several initiatives such as submarine fiber cable is one such initiative, think of it like this, it costs a call center in Kenya $7,000 USD to purchase 2MB of bandwidth yet the international rate is about $200USD for 2MB, this means that it's almost not cost effective to build a business whose backbone is internet bandwidth.
The event was scheduled to start at 8am, but true to my nature I reached there at 10am sharp just in time to watch the Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph aka Sir Mike finish up on his speech which from what I got had something to do with lowering of taxation on calls from the current 26% to 16%, in his view this would translate into more people calling and as such spending more money which would then cover the 10% reduction in tax collection Government Wins, Consumer Wins and Private Enterprise wins. Next on the podium being introduced by the ever imposing Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Information and Communication, Dr.Bitange Ndemo(a true ICT visionary) was the Microsoft Africa Director, Dr.Chieck Diarra , who went on to tell us that Microsoft was behind us all the way as a country and as a continent as we venture to use ICT to change lives and empower societies. The speeches would not be complete without the Minister of Information and Communication, Mutahi Kagwe, putting in his 2 cents on the matter.Eventually it was concluded by the Chief Executive of Telkom Kenya Eng.John Waweru, who assured as that good things were on the horizon.
The tea break gave all of us the much needed opportunity to schmooze with the captains of industry and I did my best to exchange cards and build contacts with a few people. We then headed to the exhibition hall where we had the opportunity view various products and services being offered in the market. One particular stand caught my eye, the OpenSource stand which featured certain opensource products, what caught my eye was the presence of Google and a CD they were offering called OpenCD which contains open source software, I've just inserted into my machine and it contains some really good stuff like OpenOffice, 7Zip and a couple of other applications. There was also the Madaraka Stand, which was a showcase of the first ever locally assembled branded computer, the computer was developed in collaboration with Strathmore University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and KCITI.
The afternoon session proved to be the most interesting when different speakers talked about what they were offering. The Permanent Secretary outlined the governments plan and vision and asked us to come on board as entrepreneurs and partners. All in all it was a good day well spent.