Telecommunication Ecosystem Evolution in Kenya 2009-2019: Setting the Pace and Unbundling the Turbulent Journey to a Digital Economy in a 4IR Era

Telecommunications and ICTs impact Kenyans’ daily socio-economic endeavours in work, commerce, health, and education, and is the gateway to a bright future for Kenya to continue to deliver innovative new e-government services; where the imaginations and skills of youth will deliver innovations and propel Kenya as an ICT driven economy towards prosperity. This is the vision set in the National ICT Policy promulgated in 2006 and restated in the ICT Policy gazetted in 2020. The development of a dynamic and innovative ICT application is premised to facilitate growth and productivity, allowing the development of smart services by generating additional social benefits and increasing the number of jobs, thereby improving the lives of Kenyan citizens. The telecommunications ecosystem is the underlying enabler for this transformation. This review paper undertakes a diagnostic and methodical examination of the ecosystem over the period 2009-2019 by unbundling the ecosystem to empower an informed debate and measures to catalyse further growth of the sector. The diagnostic examination is the basis for findings and recommendations contained in this paper. The paper discusses policy evolution, the drivers, and the alignment with international frameworks that Kenya has committed to in Chapter 2 and provides a background on policy development. Chapter 3 presents the regulatory framework and introduces how other regulators entered the realms of ICTs. Chapter 4 discusses the telecommunications system and the service provider space to address the needs of the consumer. This consumer is addressed in Chapter 5 including the challenges to address such as the glaring inequalities laid bare by COVID-19. Finally, Kenya is on a self-declared journey to a better future anchored on digital technology. Chapter 6 reviews the journey and the tools Kenya has chosen to this future.