The Silicon Savannah: Towards a Digitally-Enabled Kenya

Posted on Aug 29, 2017 by BPTeC-Kenya

The Silicon Savannah: Towards a Digitally-Enabled KenyaGiven certain preconceived notions about what it takes to be a global technology and outsourcing hub, some people may have trouble visualising Kenya as an enabling environment for technology innovation.  However, when we look past these notions and assess Kenya’s strengths, we realise that Kenya offers a plethora of advantages that set it apart from other international outsourcing destinations.

The Kenyan Advantage

With its reputation as the Pan-African information and communications technology (ICT) hub, Kenya is widely recognised as an East African ICT success story. It is fitted with undersea fibre-optic cables connecting the region to international networks. It has a well-developed transportation structure.  It is equipped with a strategically located port.

All of these advantages reduce the level of infrastructure challenges faced by many companies when they set up operations in foreign countries. Additionally, with its increasing average internet speed and decreasing internet costs as well as its strong education system, Kenya is able to fully leverage the country’s potential when it comes to outsourcing.

Government Support and Kenya Vision 2030

Kenya’s government believes that ICT is paramount in achieving the country’s national long-term development policy, which is why it has created and calibrated an ICT Master Plan in alignment  with Kenya’s Vision 2030, the country’s blueprint for long-term national development. Since ICT is incorporated into the country’s overall development plan, the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry is identified as one of six key sectors crucial to achieving economic growth.

Fully supporting the industry, the Kenyan government had called for the creation of a 7,500-seat “BPO park” located at the Athi-River Export Processing Zone. The park was later re-conceptualized as a different kind of technopolis known as “Konza Techno City,” also described as “where the African silicon savannah begins.” This aggressive campaign aims to establish targeted training programmes, develop a BPO incentive framework, and introduce a comprehensive policy for BPO providers and contact centres.

Improving Perceptions

Other markets such as India and the Philippines are beginning to get saturated, which opens an opportunity for Africa. A 2009 report by international management consulting firm McKinsey pointed out that one of the key drivers of Kenya’s BPO landscape is the neutral English accent of its Kenyan graduates. The report also confirmed that Kenya has the capability to become competitive in niche call centre and customer service work.

In addition, the country has a favourable geographical location that has a time zone overlap with the United Kingdom and Europe. For European companies seeking to outsource work to Kenya, this could translate to better utilisation of time, increased productivity, better coordination and cost savings. Thus, BPO providers looking to invest into establishing more contact centres and global companies seeking to outsource some of their own processes will be excited to note that Kenya is proving to be a smart choice.

The Business Process Technology Consortium – Kenya is a private sector initiative seeking to promote and help develop Kenya’s Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Management (BPM) industry by supporting international and domestic investments in the country.