The National Optic Fiber Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) connection commenced in Kisumu County on Saturday with seven sub-counties earmarked for connectivity.
Principal Secretary (PS) for Information, Communications, and Technology (ICT) Jerome Ochieng disclosed that NOFBI which is a national government project had Ksh 10 billion dedicated to it by the government.
The dedication, Ochieng noted, will ensure that all counties and sub-counties get connected over the next three to five years in what is anticipated to greatly transform service delivery to the public.
He was speaking when he launched the project at the Nyanza Regional Commissioner’s office grounds.
The PS said by extending NOFBI from County to all sub-counties the ability to prepare an ICT infrastructure to be used across the country will be greatly enhanced.
“As the foundation of e-Government programmes, including NOFBI which is done in phases together with the county connectivity projects aimed at achieving universal connectivity, we are moving into the future where the 4th industrial revolution will be driven by technology,” he explained.
The PS focused on several decades ago when top companies in the world had four such companies which were energy based and only one was ICT related but this has since changed to the point that only two are energy-related and the other 5 are technology driven.
“Internet connectivity by laying down the fiber optic cables across the country will help us achieve many things. ICT drives such successful initiatives like the M-PESA which if it was to go down for a day, the country’s economy and people will greatly suffer,” he stated.
Ochieng narrated that today one cannot afford to leave behind a mobile phone since we greatly depend on technology for almost every aspect of our lives and so no one should be left behind by this global push.
The PS announced that his team was in Kisumu to connect; Nyando, Muhoroni, Seme, Kisumu East, Kisumu West, and Kisumu Central sub-counties noting that with a unified connection we can easily facilitate video conferencing.
Having applications running on the fiber infrastructure such as the IFMIS used to pay or distribute funds through the National and County governments, the people in sub-counties will connect directly to the IFMIS and so save more time.
Ochieng said through the last mile initiative, the government will connect all hospitals and now that Kisumu was singled out as one of the five counties to pilot the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), local residents and counties should maximize on the opportunity.
He explained that the country will also be able to facilitate Tele-medicine which will stop our patients from traveling long distances to have their X-rays be read and analysis was done in far-flung health facilities as was the norm in the past.
“Such information can easily be done through the internet,” he said.
The other aspect, he said was security which remains crucial; what with the installation of CCTV cameras along the roads, to facilitate surveillance by police officers.
“Since the 4th industrial revolution will be based on technology, we are building our internal human capacity so that they don’t get scared using such technology. This is by ensuring that ICT is embedded in our education curriculum through Digital Literacy Programs (DLPs),” the PS said.
Ochieng said constituency and Wards should adopt the technology by building the Constituency Innovation Hubs where young people can come up with ideas or innovations that would transform their lives.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta has been identified as the UN Global Youth champion in charge of 1.8 billion global youths. As such, the Constituency innovation and Ajira programme which creates massive online jobs must be facilitated,” he argued.
The PS said technology is disruptive since it changes the way we do things with one outstanding aspect being that we have moved from working within certain confines to doing soon line as opposed to an office hour regime.
He said innovation can actually be trans-formative citing Uber which he argued was not a taxi company and do not own any taxi but control millions of taxis and so handles billions of shillings just like M-PESA, which has helped people make a lot of money.
Speaking at the forum, the representative of Nyanza Regional Commissioner, John Cheruiyot disclosed that the DLP programme had already covered 488 primary schools out of 610 in Kisumu County, while 35 youths have benefited through the Ajira programme.