Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been a boon worldwide, creating vast opportunities that have hoisted countries from the shackles of poverty. In many regions, including Africa, ICT is woven into how we run businesses, communicate, travel, shop, eat, study, and more. Recent ICT trends in Kenya indicate not only continued progress but also the untapped potential of these technologies. For example, there were nearly 60 million mobile phone devices, including 26 million smartphones, by September 2021, according to a report by the Communications Authority (CA). There were mobile money deposits of KSh.1.1 trillion in the same period and almost a similar value of person-to-person deposits. On the Internet, country-level domain (.ke) registrations were nearly 100,000.

The youth make up most of the population in Africa and other developing regions and bear the greatest burden of challenges in resource-constrained areas, especially unemployment. With the right skills and opportunity, the youth can leverage the power of ICT to improve their lives and the welfare of their communities. Under the auspices of the President’s Award, a panel comprising 20 students from at least three Universities in Kenya discussed the role that ICT can play in supporting the youth in education, entrepreneurship, healthcare, and agriculture. The panel was moderated by Dr. Mbuki Maina (Lecturer, Department of Information Technology) and a board member from the President’s Award Kenya.

Firstly, young people can harness ICT to learn relevant skills in different disciplines. As Nelson Mandela said, “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” With a smartphone or other computing device, the youth have a powerful tool to learn just about anything. For example, the story of Julius Yego is one of the most inspiring when it comes to using the Internet to learn a skill. He explored how to throw the javelin from the world’s best by watching their techniques on YouTube. Years later, he went on to win the world championship gold in 2015, and an Olympic silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Such is the power of ICT. In the Presidential Award programme vein, ICT also supports lifelong learning beyond the traditional boundaries of formal education.  


Secondly, in a society where youth unemployment is seen as a ticking time bomb, ICT can be part of the answer to this crisis. As engines of job creation, digital tools are an arsenal to arm the youth to support self-independence, spur creativity, and drive innovativeness.  For example, using social media, young people can promote their products and services to a global audience. Studies show that countries can double their national economic outputs by increasing Internet penetration. In this regard, governments should establish policies to extend the coverage of broadband Internet services and lower the cost of high-speed Internet.

A healthy society is a thriving society. Accordingly, ICT-enabled tools are central to addressing health challenges posed in many low-resourced settings through better access, lower costs, and reduced health inequity. Specifically, it supports health services to communities in remote settings. In mHealth, for example, mothers can access vital information on how to prepare for the birth of their child, identify causes for alarm, and make inquiries on health issues.

Lastly, ICT can play a role in reforming agricultural production and marketing. Although agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, there is limited invested in supporting computing technologies. Using smart farming techniques, farmers can increase their crop yield and productivity of their animals. The Internet also offers opportunities to learn the latest farming techniques, find better prices for farm inputs, communicate with extension officers and collaborate with other farmers.

Overall, the harnessing of ICT remains essential to national social-economic and is in line with the objectives of the President’s Award Kenya, which seeks to “impart positive life skills and ethical values to young people for a better society.” It creates paths that young people can exploit to make an impact in Kenya and beyond.



By; Dr. Antonny Mbuki