Kenya should embrace partnerships to drive ICT growth

Kenya’s vibrant ICT sector can achieve much faster growth if players adopt closer partnerships that are critical in offering start-ups a launching pad, a new report says.

The Digital Entrepreneurship in Kenya report points out that Kenya’s ICT sector has failed to flourish much faster largely because well established mobile operators have not been proactive in creating partnerships with start-ups.

The reports notes that while startups in Kenya want to partner with mobile operators to facilitate monetization, discoverability and channel access for their ventures, only 11 per cent are lucky to get into partnerships with mobile operators.

“Better engagement would ease technical challenges and build a more robust industry and a strong ecosystem through collaboration,” states the report.

It adds that whereas mobile operators in principle agree to partnerships with startups, there is a lack of a clear, standard framework to manage the joint ventures. In addition the existing collaborations are few and far between, and more often, hinged on personal connections.

The report notes the biggest challenge faced by startups in developing relationships with mobile operators is lack of trust and concerns about sharing ideas freely.

Apart from collaboration, the report also looks at other aspects in the ecosystem including financing, community spaces, business skills and research capacity.

It is estimated that the mobile ecosystem currently contributes an average of 6.3 per cent to the sub Sahara Africa gross domestic product (GDP) and is expected to generate 6.6 million jobs by 2020.

In Kenya, the ICT sector has recorded substantial growth in recent years and today accounts for 5.4 per cent of the GDP up from 3.7 per cent in 2010.

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