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A Report on the Status of Constituency Innovation Hubs Initiative in Molo Constituency.
Constituency innovation hubs project is a program under Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) under partnership framework with National Government Constituency Development Board (NG-CDF) which aims at setting up technology centers in all 290 constituencies to provide free internet access, digital devices, and work spaces for use by the members of the public. The project is a part of the Ajira Digital Program which was established in the Ministry of ICT as a key component for the implementation of digital inclusivity across the region. The project was aimed at mainstreaming ICT infrastructure and services at grassroots and serve as a channel for providing citizens especially youths with an enabling environment for accessing and benefiting from the available digital work opportunities. The project is also expected to propel Kenya to be the regional leader in digital inclusion and ICT as well as a recognized global freelancing hub on the global map by 2022.
The partnership framework for the CIH project brings together the Ministry of ICT, the NG-CDF board, the NG-CDF Management Committees, Members of the Parliament as well as the county governments support in planning, implementation and mainstream of ICT hubs in the grassroots level. According to the 2018 report of the Select Committee on National Government Constituency Development Fund, 244 constituencies have approved the funding of the digital innovation hubs project in their budgets and there was a need for stakeholder involvement and public participation to facilitate the roll-out and implementation of the program. The implementation of the project at constituency level according to the Select Committee is entirely optional and every constituency should facilitate wider consultation and stakeholder engagement to weigh the desirability of the CIH projects and help the public in understanding the benefits of establishment and implementation of the projects as a development priority.
Establishment of Innovation hubs and ICT startups from private growth tech enterprises in Kenya has gained momentum over the past years. This has revealed the potential in offering capacity building, internet connectivity, training and mentorship and support to tech entrepreneurs and youths across the country. ICT sector is currently a major driver for economic growth in Kenya currently contributing about 15 percent of the country’s GDP as well as creating several job opportunities. There are about 8 private ICT hubs currently supporting between 10-59 startups providing virtual incubation and mentorship to strengthen Kenyan ICT ecosystem. Vibrant ICT hubs in Kenya such as iHub Research, Lakehub, SwahiliBox, Sote Hub, Eldo hub, iLab Africa, mLab, and NaiLab among others as well as ICT startups from tech multinational giants like Microsoft, Google, IBM and Intel corporations have proved the potential of development of digital innovation hubs to the economy.
The implementation of the digital hubs program was targeted at a total of 1160 innovation hubs across the country. According to the Select Committee on the implementation of the program, each constituency is expected to start with one innovation hub and eventually increase to a minimum of four digital innovation hubs.According to the cabinet secretary of Ministry of ICT Joe Mucheru, last year, 7168 youth received training countrywide against the target of 8000 on the digital jobs and innovation through Ajira Digital Program. Currently there are only 14 operational constituency innovation hubs countrywide distributed as follows;
- Limuru constituency – 1
- Mathioya Constituency – 4
- Kajiado West Constituency – 1
- South Imenti Constituency – 2
- Vihiga Constituency – 2
- Kuresoi South Constituency – 1
- Subukia Constituency – 1
- Mbeere South Constituency – 1
- Kamukunji Constituency – 1
The main objectives of Constituency Innovation Hubs Initiative include;
- To improve internet connectivity and access to the public countrywide
- To spur access innovation, creativity and youth empowerment in both rural and urban areas to close the gap existing in access of digital opportunities among youth from deprived rural backgrounds.
- To support entrepreneurship and job-creation among youths by providing free working spaces equipped with digital devices and internet access.
- To enhance digital inclusivity and digital literacy among citizen as a way pf improving socio-economic status of the public
- To enhance job openings through online work platforms and promote emergence of satellite businesses around the hubs to enable people to earn decent income therefore solving the unemployment and poverty challenge at the grassroots level,
Molo constituency is among the 11 electoral constituencies in Nakuru County located in the Rift Valley region.The constituency has a total area of 478.79 KM2 and consists of 4 county words; Molo Ward, Elburgon Ward, Turi Ward and Mariashoni ward and a total population of about 140, 584 (Nakuru County Government, n.d.).The NG-CDF Board of Molo Constituency comprises of ****** members under the leadership of the area Member of Parliament Hon. CPA Kuria Kimani.
Constituency Innovation Hubs in the Region.
Currently, Molo Constituency has no operational constituency innovation hub in place since the project was rolled out in 2016. However, Molo constituency is among the 244 constituencies which have approved the funding of CIH project awaiting implementation. According to NG-CDF patron Kuria Kimani, the ICT hubs for Molo constituency is included in 2019/2020 budget awaiting implementation this fiscal year. The area MP appreciates the role of the ICT hubs in creating jobs for the youths in the constituency. Youths from the region have benefited from other operational CIHs particularly the one established in Kuresoi South constituency and Subukia Constituency under the partnership of NG-CDF, the county government and Ministry of ICT. According to Nakuru County Government, plans to roll out ICT digital and Innovation hub in Molo sub-county under the partnership framework of Nakuru County, Molo NG-CDF and Ministry of ICT are complete as well as four other innovation hubs within Nakuru County.
According to the area MP, Molo constituency has been committed to implementation of the ICT hubs project since last financial year. However budgeting of the project faced some few challenges regarding planning, logistics and public participation. Hon. Kuria Kimani explained that it’s a constitutional requirement to engage the constituents through public participation in prioritizing of development projects. He claimed that during the last year, his administration has conducted public participation on the implementation of the project. Since the project involved joint efforts from of key stakeholders, it becomes a challenge to coordinate and put all the efforts in place. According to the area MP, the process of implementation of the project requires engagement and consultation with the key stakeholders to ensure all resources are in place before rolling out the program.
Finally, the financial challenge of setting up the project was evident as a major barrier for implementation of the project. According to the MP, Molo constituency was lacking several basic amenities and infrastructure which were prioritized in the past financial year to pave way for implementation of the ICT hub project. Also, with the county government becoming a major player in implementation of the digital innovation hubs project, there was a need to engage in consultation and chatter a plan for joint efforts between NG-CDF of molo and the county government in planning, financing and rolling out of the project in the region. Currently, the county government in partnership with Ajira Digital and NG-CDF has rolled out plans to set up digital innovation hub. In addition, the NG-CDF Molo has budgeted for the project in 2019/2020 budget.
The county government of Nakuru has played a big role in implementation of digital innovation hubs in the region. The county government has partnered with Ajira Digital Program to facilitate the capacitation of the two existing digital innovation hubs in Kuresoi South and Subukia to enhance digital inclusion and literacy in the country. According to the County ICT Coordinator Lilian Someh, 210 youths from the county benefited from the training conducted in the ICT Innovation hubs in Kuresoi South and Subukia in 2018. The youths received training on the online job opportunities including data entry, content writing, transcription, software development, website development. Ecommerce and digital marketing. The county governor Lee Kinyanjui has also affirmed that the county government and the ministry of ICT has identified and proposed sites setting up of digital innovation hubs in Naivasha, Nakuru East, Nakuru Town West, Njoro and Molo Sub-counties to facilitate ICT coverage in the county.
The ICT innovation hubs project is built on the foundation of the Ajira Digital Program which is aimed at job creation through digital platforms through effective training and mentorship to build a community of digital workers who deliver high quality worked recognized globally. According to a report to 2018 for the Select Committee for NG-CDF, it is found that CIH has a potential of serving as a small business cluster of connected businesses, job seekers, enterpreneurs, investors and employers in the same location. CIH can serve as a cluster of increasing efficiency and productivity of a community by provide an environment for various people to networkand improve their socio-economic well-being.
The benefits of establishing Constituency Innovation Hubs in Molo Constituency as a development project includes the following;
- Increasing exposure and connectivity in the grassroots shall benefit the communities living within the region by expanding digital inclusion and digital literacy. Youths as well as general public shall become aware of the current digital trends and access to various services including e-citizen shall be made more effective
- ICT Hubs are known to stimulate technological innovation among youths by tapping into their entrepreneurial ideas and utilize them to solve local problems in the community. Technological innovation will be key in providing permanent solution to challenges faced by locals as well as government in regards to agriculture, manufacturing, transport, security as well as other key sectors.
- CIH is expected to act as center of convergence for various business sectors to benefit from the free internet connectivity providing an suitable environment for establishment of other small business in the region such as cyber café services, hotel and catering services, E-learning and training institutions. This will serve as a major economic zone in the constituency and contribute immensely to the local economy
- Finally, CIH is an opportunity for providing digital jobs which combine both technical skills and non-technical skills in providing services which helps to solve the unemployment crisis in the region. Since ICT is potentially a major driver of the economy, local CIH in Molo constituency shall serve as a project targeting to guide youths towards self-employment as online workers. The ICT hub will serve as a training and mentorship center for introducing youths to online jobs including freelance writing, transcription, data entry, digital marketing and PR, online surveys and blogging among several others. Such interesting job opportunities will go a long way in solving unemployment among youths.
In conclusion, it is therefore evident that the implementation of the ICT Hubs project as part of Ajira Digital program is gaining momentum not only in Molo constituency but across the country. To mainstream the roll out of the projects, the key stakeholders should commit to their roles and responsibilities as outlined in the agreement established for the implementation of the project. The NG-CDF should prioritize implementation of the project as a key development priority with a potential of stimulating economic growth in the grassroots. However, the success of the project do not entirely depend on the constituency administration through NG-CDF but a fruitful partnership between Ministry of ICT, private sector, county government, NG-CDF management committee and the general public. Also, partnership with the existing innovation hubs, ICT startups and private growth enterprise will be essential in enhancing performance of the project and ensuring success.
Chagani,, A., Chaux, M., Moraa, H., & Mui, J. (2017). Investigating the Potential for Digital Job Creation in Kenya’s Information and Communication Technology Innovation Landscape. Nairobi: iHub Research.
ICT Authority. (n.d.). Constituency Innovation Hubs Georef. Retrieved from http://www.opendata.go.ke/datasets/eb1e44b9f22149eea1388c6698e5a74a
Kenya News Agency. (2019, March 10). New innovation hubs to set up in Nakuru County. Retrieved from http://188.8.131.52/2019/03/10/new-innovation-hubs-to-set-up-in-nakuru-county/
Ministry of ICT. (n.d.). Constituency Innovation Hub Opened in Embu. Retrieved from http://www.ict.go.ke/constituency-innovation-hub-opened-in-embu/
Nakuru County Government. (n.d.). Subcounties. Retrieved from https://nakuru.go.ke/govt-services/subcounties/
Select Committee on NG-CDF. (2018). A Report of the Committee on the Constituency Digital Innovation Hubs during the Joint Retreat with NG-CDF Board and Ministry of ICT (1). Nairobu: Parliament.
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