The Digital Villages and Agriculture

The government of Kenya is in a public private partnership with the Telcos in a move to improve internet penetration to the neglected rural areas. The Kenya Communication Amendment Act of  2009 stipulates that the government will collect 1% of the Telco’s revenues and channel the cash to the digital villages initiative which seeks to transform rural Kenya into a knowlegde-based economy.

The digital villages initiative otherwise known as the Pilot Pasha Centres main objective is to inculcate an entrepreneurial culture at village level and technology is a very important aspect in terms of information and exposure. Apart from the basic ICT services like internet browsing and printing, the digital villages also offer eGovernment services like ID application, educational services and mostly entrepreneurial services where they teach the villagers how to leverage ICT in business.

The Success of The Pilot Pasha Project

According to a study done by the CISCO systems tech researcher holds that the digital villages project has been mostly successful in the following areas;

Physical infrastructure such as reliable power supply and connectivity

• Auxiliary services – Printing, photocopying, faxing, surfing, scanning have been strong drivers of revenue in the Pilot Pasha centers.

• Marketing for awareness and education ; Here is where farmers have benefitted the most. The now have access to unbiased market information like especially prices, trends, seeds, inputs and what not. Several farmers are not only building strong customer relationships with people in urban areas but they are also now exposed to the international market through websites like Alibaba.com, a major Chinese eCommerce website.

• Entrepreneurial initiative in customer service and experience – The locals are being trained to manage the digital centers themselves hence they gain an important entrepreneurial experience and some of them open ICT centers of their own using the skills they picked in the Pilot Pasha Program

• Innovative new uses of the Internet for business collaboration and “edutainment” – Apart from access to eCommerce websites, users are able to connect with customers, clients, suppliers, lender and other stakeholder via email, social media and even teleconferencing which is helping the rural farmers make valuable business collaborations. Edutainment is also strong in the centers where the youth watch documentaries on Youtube and play games with their friends from all over the world

• Training accreditation for various vocational e-learning courses – Last but not leat important is that the people are professionally trained and accredited with globally recognized eLearning certifications which improve their skills and hence income

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