Kenya's permanent secretary for the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Dr Bitange Ndemo, officiated last week at the opening of the first pilot Pasha Centre, in Kangundo, Kenya. This initiative falls under the Kenya ICT Board's Digital Villages Project (DVP), also known as "Pasha Centres" (pasha means 'to inform' in Swahili). The Kangundo pilot Pasha Centre is the first of six centres to be connected to the Internet.
The purpose of the Pasha Centres is to enhance the livelihood of local citizens and encourage new micro-enterprises by providing access to information, education and new markets. The objective is to establish thousands of such centres across the country, run by local entrepreneurs and attract investment in the development of connectivity and new citizen services.
Pasha Centres will ultimately open up cost-effective access to government and private services for remote farmers and entrepreneurs who would otherwise have to travel extensively to achieve this.
* The plan is to roll out five other pilot Pasha Centre communities in Kenya: Malindi in the coastal province; South Imenti in the eastern province; Garrisa in the north-eastern province; Siaya in Nyanza province; and Mukuru Kiaba in Nairobi.
* Sites were selected on the basis of geographic distribution to cover semi-rural and rural populations as an important step to extend coverage and promote digital inclusion in rural communities.* Once established, the six centres will run for a four-month period to perform a baseline study to monitor community usage and services. This baseline will be used to determine the most appropriate business and operating models for Pasha Entrepreneurs and their potential business partners, as well as to test the portfolio of solutions that run in each centre.
* The Pasha Centres were conceived as a result of non-commercial public-private collaboration between the Kenya ICT Board and Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) – Cisco's global strategic consulting arm. They are designed to model a community-focused format that will be self-sufficient by using technology in the form of a Web 2.0 collaborative online platform for the Digital Village Pasha Program, led by the board.
* The pilot Pasha Centres in Kenya are being implemented with the connectivity support of leading telecommunications operator Telkom Kenya. Copycat is the equipment and systems integrator and content providers are South Africa's Learnthings, Kenya's Afri-Afya, the United Kingdom's National Health Service and the World Health Organisation. Baseline monitoring will be carried out by the Department of International Development sponsored broadcast organization Mediae.
* Cisco IBSG is collaborating on the Digital Villages Project to develop a scalable Pasha Centre model for rural and urban implementation focusing on three pillars: investments for connectivity to the last mile, business model for the Pasha Centres and Internet-based services that benefit the local community.
* Dr Bitange Ndemo, Kenya's permanent secretary for the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
"This is a modest yet important milestone toward implementing the national Pasha Centres that will be sustainable and thrive on the use and development of good -quality content, services and training. The pilot Pasha Centres are critical to enable valuable field research and testing, incorporating community inputs. The opening of the Kangundo PPC is timely as it coincides with the connectivity landfall of multiple undersea cable initiatives enabling the build-out of broadband infrastructure for Africa. This is a great opportunity to help in shaping the future of Kenya's Pasha Centres so that technology can be used to enrich daily life throughout Kenya."
* Paul Kukubo, CEO of the Kenya ICT Board
"We are striving to create Pasha Centres that can contribute to the livelihoods of the community and in particular, support small entrepreneurial ventures and farming. We hope that the connected PPC communities will create a platform to facilitate collaboration and innovation as well as provide us with valuable lessons in understanding Internet usage at a local level. I would like to thank and congratulate entrepreneurs like Kangundo's Connie Kisuke, who had the foresight to grasp this opportunity to turn her Blossom World cyber-café into a pilot Pasha Centre. When Connie, her peers and community are comfortable with using the communication technologies that are enabled and developed through the pilot Pasha Centres, they will become catalytic in helping to launch full-fledged entrepreneur-run Pasha Centres with more sophisticated government, commercial and citizen services."
* Steve Du Mont, vice-president Cisco IBSG
"Governments around the world understand the close correlation that broadband adoption has with increased productivity and better standard of living for their people. Our experience within Cisco IBSG has proven that broadband access for the masses, who would benefit the most but can least afford it, can be achieved by orchestrating the infrastructure investment, the development of shared computing centres such as the Pasha Centres, and by developing smart locally relevant ICT services. It is a privilege to be working with the Kenyan government, which has taken a leadership position in developing an economically sustainable model and locally-relevant content and services. The Pasha Centres will help towards getting this formula right."
* Florence Saronge, PMO & Special Projects Manager, Telkom Kenya
"The achievement of an information-based society through technological enhancement is one of the main priorities of Kenya's government, which is working towards the realisation of development goals for wealth and employment creation that Telkom Kenya is pleased to support. We believe that connecting Kenyans – with the more than 2 billion people currently using the Internet as an enabling and development tool – is already empowering them to do much more."
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