Three more members have gotten a call to join the government taskforce charged with exploring artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies in Kenya. This new addition takes the task-force members to 14 led by former ICT Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo.
“The Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology has appointed Martin M. Murungi, Daniel Obam (Eng) and Sachin Kamath to be members of the taskforce for the exploration and analysis of upcoming digital technologies with great potential to transform Kenya’s economy,” read a gazette notice dated 11 May 2018.
The new members: Sachin Kamath has extensive experience in the ICT industry in emerging markets, specialising in strategy, merging telco and financial services, Internet of Things (IOT) having been a long-term member of technology company Ericsson.
Engineer Daniel Obam is an accomplished engineer with over 30 years experience in ICT, he has served as ICT policy advisor to the government at the National Communications Secretariat, and currently chairs the ITU Radiocommunication Advisory Group (RAG) in addition to being a Head of State Commendation (HSC) awardee for services rendered to the ICT sector.
The technology taskforce was established in February this year with the aim of developing guidelines that Kenya will use to exploit the two technologies to develop its industry’s at par with the rest of the world. Currently, there are no formal guiding principles governing the use of these two technologies in Kenya.
For instance, early this year the Central Bank governor Patrick Njoroge deemed the bitcoin online currency- which uses the blockchain technology-as ‘dangerous’ and a ‘bubble of a kind’ in a warning to users about the risk of losing their investments in bitcoin. However, apart from cryptocurrency, bitcoin’s technology in addition to artificial intelligence (the ability of a machine to learn and conduct functions that would require human intelligence) has many uses that traverse many sectors.
For example, Jubilee insurance just recently won a continental award for customer service by incorporating artificial intelligence to deliver customer service using a chatbot. Twiga Foods, a fresh produce delivery company has also successfully piloted a lending system for the vegetable vendors it supplies; utilising artificial intelligence and blockchain to determine and process loans based on vendors purchase records.
The private sector has already hit the ground running; it will be interesting to see what recommendations the task-force comes up with for the government after the end of its tenure.