Nakuru– Traders in Nakuru County received a significant digital upgrade with the installation of free Wi-Fi hotspots in local markets. The initiative, launched by the State Department for Information, Communication, Technology, and Digital Economy, started with Nakuru Wakulima Market.
According to Kenya News Agency, the internet connectivity, covering a 300 square meter radius, is aimed at assisting traders, including those in the Mama mboga, MSMEs, public service vehicle, and jua-kali sectors, to leverage social media networks for business expansion.
The inauguration of the Wi-Fi service at Wakulima market was overseen by Engineer Tanui, alongside County Commissioner Loyford Kibaara and Deputy Governor Mr. David Kones. The initiative is part of a broader effort to digitize and economically transform the region, with the internet seen as crucial for local and international trade. Engineer Tanui highlighted that this move would enable traders to conduct online transactions directly from their stalls, enhancing their reach to a wider customer base both locally and abroad. He revealed that the Kenya Kwanza government aims to extend an additional 100,000km of Fibre, with approximately 25,000km laid out annually.
The Principal Secretary further disclosed the broader scope of the digital initiative, citing the installation of 461 Wi-Fi hotspots across various markets and county headquarters, and the plan to establish 1,450 digital hubs over five years. This digital expansion is designed to address unemployment, particularly among the youth, by providing access to online job opportunities and fostering digital entrepreneurship. Through the Ajira and Jitume programmes, the government is equipping citizens with digital skills, with the deployment of thousands of computers in technical and vocational training institutes.
Additionally, Engineer Tanui announced efforts to make smart-enabled phones more accessible, with the local assembly of low-cost digital devices priced around Sh6,000 (USD 40) per unit. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to support MSMEs, which are significant contributors to Kenya’s GDP and labour force.
Deputy Governor Kones emphasized the opportunities that digitization offers to traders, farmers, and entrepreneurs, urging them to exploit the digital space. He highlighted the role of digital transformation in reducing operational costs, improving productivity, and fostering innovation in businesses. Kones noted the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in accelerating digital transformation and the urgency for governments to address digital readiness gaps.
In closing, Kones affirmed the commitment of Governor Susan Kihika’s administration to work with the national government and private sector stakeholders to boost e-commerce and digital economy, aiming to maximize the benefits for traders and small businesses in Nakuru.