President William Ruto hailed the strides Kenya has made in the technology sector in his speech at the World Governments Summit in Dubai, UAE, on Tuesday.
He told delegates that during his trip to the United States in September last year for the U.S.-Kenya Business Roadshow, Tim Cook, the CEO of the American tech giant Apple, told him that the multinational employs about 23,000 Kenyans in Nairobi.
Ruto said this while drumming up support for the digital economy, which he termed a source of remote opportunities for young people who do not need to leave their homes.
“The digital economy is delivering attractive opportunities for young people, to work for employers scattered across the world without having to leave their homes in Kenya,” Ruto noted.
“When I visited Silicon Valley last year, Apple’s Tim Cook informed me that his company now employs about 23,000 Kenyans, all working from Nairobi.”
Citing his encounter with a college student he said he met in the rural village of Kaiboi in Nandi County, who works remotely for a Germany-based AI company, Ruto said his focus on the possibilities from the combined energy, technology and the potential of Kenyan youth is sharper.
“We must not allow a fear of future unknown to deprive brilliant youngsters like Brian of opportunities. If we sacrifice the benefits of progress hoping for security, we risk losing both,” he said.
Ruto praised Kenya as a regional leader in technological advancement and termed the M-Pesa mobile banking platform a proud home-grown innovation.
“In Kenya, we understand that the soul of innovation is the constant endeavour to meet public demand by providing solutions to problems, efficiently delivering services and transforming challenges into productive opportunities,” he said.
On the governance front, Ruto noted that his administration is determined to digitise all government processes and automate public services to make them accessible to citizens at their convenience.
“In the last year, we increased the number of digitally accessible government services from 5 per cent to over 80 per cent. The goal is to make the government 100 per cent digital by the end of this year,” he said.
Apple employs about 160,000 people globally.
Following his U.S. roadshow which was meant to highlight the business and investment potential in Kenya’s booming tech sector, President Ruto sparked debate after saying he had struck an agreement with Apple and other top Silicon Valley names, which would see these corporations give Kenyans hundreds of thousands of what he described as digital jobs.
“I visited Google, Intel and Apple. All these companies are looking for online workers,” said Ruto then.
Without getting into specifics of which corporation promised to employ what number of workers, the president at the time added; “They want us to give them 100,000, 200,000 and 300,000 workers out of the Kenyan youth.”