The Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC), recognizes that the provision of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) goods and services is important for enabling economic and social development by improving communication and facilitating information flow. However, the ICT sector is currently more active in urban areas, resulting in wide regional disparities in the distribution of ICT facilities.
In order to address this disparity, the Kenya ICT Board (KICTB) is supporting the roll out of new “electronic centres” which shall be named Pasha Centres (and are also commonly referred to as Digital Villages). Existing e-centres may also be upgraded. Pasha Centres are hubs that provide a host of services to the public via computers connected to the internet, or by using and marketing other ICT-enabled applications.
A core requirement for this project is to set up and manage a Digital Village Revolving Fund (DVRF) that will advance loans to entrepreneurs to enable them establish the PASHA centres. In addition, the Kenya ICT Board will also provide technical support to the successful PASHA entrepreneurs. Other components of this initiative include training.
The Revolving Fund
The Digital Villages Revolving Fund is part of the support the Kenya ICT Board will give the entrepreneur. The fund will be offer to successful applicants and will be required to be paid within three (3) years.
Training is one of the main components of the DV initiative. The Kenya ICT Board has successfully trained one thousand and forty one (1041) potential PASHA center entrepreneurs across the country. Demand for the entrepreneurship training course has been massive. It is for this reason that the Kenya ICT Board is considering converting the course to e-Learning.
Technical support is one of the critical components of the DV initiative. The Kenya ICT Board plans to provide support to the PASHA entrepreneurs during their first year of operation. The support will include online support and physical site visits to ensure PASHA entrepreneurs have the necessary support to succeed.
Five digital villages have been established in a pilot phase. The five are located in Nkubu, Garissa, Kangundo, Malindi and Mukuru.
Potential Pasha Entrepreneurs shall be invited to submit business plans. These business plans shall be evaluated by a selected financial institution in conjunction with the Kenya ICT Board’s grants committee. Successful applicants will then receive funding in the form of a Digital Villages Revolving Fund.
Private sector efforts
To compliment Government telecom operators, Safaricom, Telkom Kenya, Zain Kenya and Essar telecoms are developing plans to establish their own centers.