BY CHARLES OUMA
The East African Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry is widely driven by young people. Surveys indicate that more than 70% of the continent’s population is made of young people below 30 years of age. Technology companies interested in establishing a name for themselves in this sector therefore have to capture their interest by designing products that embrace the future.
And there is no better place to pursue this vision than by targeting the education sector. Intel Corporation, the international technological giant has invested over USD 20 billion in building factories, carrying out research and development and specifically, channelled over USD 100 million in education, making its intent to dominate the ICT sector in East Africa known. It has been focussed in Kenya and Rwanda.
Mr Danie Steyn, Intel East Africa General Manager foresees undisputable growth if Kenya’s aspiration for technology and higher education is combined with Rwanda’s vision for a technologically driven education. To attain both visions that would ultimately improve both countries economies, Mr Steyn is particular that teachers must catch up to the technological needs of education. That’s why the multi-national corporation is in the process of enabling 1.4 million teachers in Africa through its Intel Teach Program. This, Mr Steyn says, means that for all schools they work with, there will be one equipped teacher plus a projector allowing a one-on-one deployment of lessons while delivering locally relevant content to learners.
Furthermore, another Intel initiative, the She Will Connect programme is set to ensure that more women take up opportunities generated as a result of technology. According to Mr Suraj Shah, Corporate Affairs Manager, Intel East Africa, 25% fewer women than men are online in emerging markets today. He says Internet access should be a human right, and they are in a consistent struggle to reduce the gender and technology gap in emerging markets.
Impacting people and business through trends and technology
The company has also targeted the Kenyan ICT community in its charm offensive. It recently rolled out such products as laptop spot wireless charging that enables users to charge their computers by simply placing them on a table. It also launched charging bowls where smart devices are charge wirelessly by putting placing them on the bowls. And in it has not being left behind in the race for wearable devices that feature such giants like Samsung and Apple. It launched its own devices that that monitor heart rate during a recent Intel Conference.
Currently tablets and mobile phones are quickly becoming the most widely used tools for consuming digital content. Statistics show that over 70% Internet costs arise from site visits and innovations are quickly evolving and that is why next year’s launch of the vPro processor, designed to enable IT professionals remotely manage and configure all aspects of a PC will bring about cost management and cost reduction in the sector. Processors are becoming smaller every 18 months, thus decreasing power consumption and increasing battery life. Designed to consume less than 10 times power, the launch of the Core M processors will allow 9 hours of High Definition Video playback with a cooling system that is solely dependent on the chassis of the computer. These kinds of 4th generation processors will enable the development of the thinnest, flexible touch PC designs ever.
This is Intel’s proof that PC’s are not bound to die soon since out of every 39 smartphones that exist, there is an immense need for a server. According to Mr Chris Mwangi, Field Applications Engineer, Intel East Africa, cooling is a major factor in designing a processor and with the superbly designed processor the PC is only re-inventing it’s self.
Intel has been in the game changing process of redesigning the looks of the PC. Mr Steyn reiterates that as much as there is a low household penetration for PC ownership, this has proved to be a good opportunity for the rise of the 2 in 1 laptops and tablets that combine the functionality of the PC with the design and productivity of a netbook, a tablet or a smart phone. Evidently ICT age is here to change the country’s economy for better.
The ICT Industry has contributed to the steady growth of Kenya’s economy over the years. Save for the Q3 and Q4 of 2013 – where GFK statistics indicated that there was a decrease in the industry due to the reintroduction of the VAT – ICT is now recovering as Kenya is recording the highest number of IT related startups compared to anywhere else in Africa.
With the Kenyan Internet users having grown from 200,000 in 2000 to 21 million in 2013 and with a staggering 78 million mobile phone subscribers (65% penetration) across East Africa this trend can only go higher. This growth in the ICT sector has seen manufacturers invest heavily in the lucrative ICT industry not only in Kenya, but also in the larger East Africa.