Over 300 ICT and engineering graduates who have been on a 12 months on the job training and work experience under the Presidential Digi-Talent programme have today graduated via video conferencing.
Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary (CS) Joe Mucheru said that ICT is more than just an enabler in the implementation of key government agendas but it was an essential tool in enhancing the delivery of efficient government services to the citizens hence the government’s insistence on the training of ICT professionals.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Maureen Mbaka, Mucheru said that the Presidential Digi-Talent programme is now in its 4th year of implementation and so far, 900 DigiTalents have graduated from the programme and a further 300 were graduating today making a total of 1, 300 interns since inception in 2015.
“Graduation is a big achievement under any circumstances. However, yours is a special one as it comes at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted our country economically and socially. The pandemic whisked you away from the physical norm to a total virtual space from where you have now completed your Digi-Talent programme,” said Mucheru.
He said that ICT was now at the center stage of Kenya’s development plans, especially as the world adjusts to the effects of the pandemic.
“Under the ‘Big 4’ Agenda championed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the government has not only enhanced the emergency response structures towards the provision of Universal Healthcare, but is also in the process of setting up sustainable policies that promote a healthier and better future for everyone, everywhere,” said the CS.
Mucheru added that the fight against Covid-19 has seen the proliferation and application of innovative mobile and web-based applications for data collection, analysis and reporting, to monitor and make data driven strategies to manage the pandemic.
“The Presidential Digital Talent Programme (Digi-Talent) programme is modelled on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and anchored on key national documents. These include the Medium Term Plan (MTP) III and Vision 2030, Kenya’s long-term development blue print that aims to transform the country into a modern, globally competitive, middle income economy,” he added.
“In tandem with these strategies, which are being accelerated through the implementation of the ‘Big Four Agenda’, we must seize the significant socio-economic opportunities presented by digital technologies,” highlighted Mucheru.
He said that the DigiTalent programme invests in developing Human ICT Capital, a key resource in designing, developing and operating the ICT infrastructure and investments that have already been laid out by both Government and the private sector.
“The DigiTalents goal is to add a pool of skilled manpower needed to support these investments. As a country, we have acquired an international reputation as a leader in technological innovation,” he said.
He noted that the success of the programme is an opportunity to further rubber stamp our status, saying the world is now digital and technology has levelled the ground across the globe.
ICT Authority CEO Dr. Katherine Getao said that the Presidential Digital Talent -Digitalent Program was born out of the need for government to enhance its capacity to use ICT for effective public service delivery and the need to develop the ICT talent pool in Kenya through a collaboration between the public and private sectors.
“The focus is to develop and sustain high end ICT talent by bridging the skills gaps between industry requirements and the capabilities of the local workforce,” she noted.
Dr. Getao added that it was crucial to prepare, position and transition interns to the World of Work through internship, mentorship and placement arrangements in public and private institutions.
“The programme enhances strategic ICT leadership, provides technical capacity for a robust ICT sector under a public-private partnership collaborative framework that creates an opportunity for participants to understand the operations of government thus equips young people to improve service delivery for their fellow citizens,” said Dr. Getao.
The CEO explained that for the first time, the programme has included other disciplines such in environment, medicine, education and agriculture in support for the implementation of the ‘Big 4 Agenda’ through provision of the necessary human capital.
She said that the digital economy was also creating new risks from cyber security breaches to facilitating illegal economic activities and challenging concepts of data privacy, hence governments, civil society, academia, the scientific community and technology industry must work together to find new and effective solutions to the emerging challenges.
Dr. Getao urged the youths to be ready to face the fast emerging global dynamics which is highly competitive, constantly changing and plagued with huge challenges, noting that only those who were agile and entrepreneurial oriented would thrive in the new reality.
She lauded the health workers involved in the fights against Covid-19 saying “Today I read that more than 500 healthcare workers in the country have been infected with Covid-19 and that is because they have given their own lives to make sure that we are kept healthy and safe and we acknowledge their contribution.”
The CEO at the same time acknowledged the engineers and ICT personnel across the country who were making it possible for people to interact and share through video conferencing, e-commerce, communicating with friends and associates around the world and keeping Kenya moving on even during the current challenging period of Covid-19 times.