Kenyan Companies embrace outsourcing

About eight years ago, I had a conversation with one of Kenya’s leading technology technocrats about outsourcing. This guy has been there since the days of Kenya Posts and Telecommunication, so when he spoke about anything technology, he commanded the room/space.

On the topic of outsourcing, he was so well versed that as a journalist I liked hanging around because I would learn something new. I have never been afraid to seek knowledge and he was happy to have the audience.

The internet defines outsourcing as an allocation of specific business processes to a specialist external service provider. Most of the times an organization cannot handle all aspects of a business process internally and decide to pass on the task to an expert.

This was at the height of discussions on new fiber optic connections to the Eastern coast of Africa and people were busy discussing big money projects. My questions related to how people who have no big money backing could benefit from the technology developments.

He spoke about companies outsourcing technology services. At that point, it sounded remote and unattainable. That time ISPs had internal installation teams. The internet connections were few and expensive. Of course all big ISPs currently outsource their technical implementation services.

Fast forward. I was impressed when sitting at a catch up or gossip session with my friends and they spoke about an IT graduate who had decided to serve small companies that were willing to pay her 10k a month. She had 10.

Of course, the outsourcing trend has caught on within the corporate circles but according to her, these were the SME bracket ones. Whatever the level, the point was that most companies had started appreciating the benefit of outsourcing.

Outsourcing was a big buzzword when the ICT Board was formed and we were fighting for the World Bank Money on BPO services. We all sort of know what happened to that. That time we were competing with India, Mauritius and South Africa as outsourcing destination, now we are just happy to beat Ghana, now that our economy is rebased.

So, why would you outsource services to an individual or company?

  1. To concentrate on your core business- if your core business is selling, let someone else handle IT services, your business will run much more better and smooth.
  2. Swiftness and expertise- most likely the person will sort you out or knows someone who can.
  3. Reduced operational and capital expenditure- think about insurance and tea that internal teams will consume 🙂
  4. Increased efficiency
  5. Reduce labour costs


So, for the graduates will to explore the market, there are opportunities for those who seek them 🙂


Of Journalists, press conference and political pressure

Yesterday, the first day of Connected Summit, there was a press conference attended by Info Com PS Joseph Tiampati, ICTA CEO Victor Kyalo, Andrew Waititu, SAP CEO and Edwin Yinda, ICTA Board chair.

This was a routine press conference. If anything, the CS had not arrived and it looked like the only big story would be the affirmation and details of a previous announcement by Deputy President William Ruto that Kenya will have third generation ID cards.

The journalists went on with the usual questions and one sought clarification on the actual cost, Tiampati clearly indicated that the cost would range from 5 to 8 billion Kenya shillings, this was on record, tv, radio etc.

Just like it was a routing press conference, this was a routine story.

Well, that was until Capital Fm was the first to run the story, on radio, online and through text service. That was the time the political pressure kicked in. Apparently, the figures were discussed in a closed door meeting and Tiampati was not supposed to disclose.

And Ruto/his office/his handlers were pissed!

Calls started going into newsroom bosses, demanding a correction, even before the story ran. The issue was that the figures were wrong, it will not cost that much, etc… For the journalists on the ground, they could only stand their ground because there is no way ten journalists with radio and TV clips can be wrong.

In retrospect, you can understand Tiampati, he is the technical guy, he probably sat in those meetings that decided on these figures. He probably has not been briefed on how to doge journalists questions and saturate press conferences with philosophical and abstract BS.

For tech journalists looking for stories, this is the guy to talk to….he will give you a story 🙂 probably anytime 🙂

Anyway, it was a nice last minute run around for the guys handling PR for Connected Summit.

Here is the correction/clarification sent late in the evening.

“Government to begin digitization of all persons

 The National Digital Registration Exercise targets to establish clean data set registers for all people, establishments, land and assets.

The entire exercise covering all the four data sets budget will be firmed up as soon as design and logistics are finalized (this is still work in progress).

The people registry which is the immediate exercise will target to clean up especially the 0-17 years old records. Details to be captured for those between 12 and above will be to ensure clean data for planning and socio-economic use.

This will be across all the different data users in Government and the private sector who rely on data for their operations.  Effectively through economies of scale this will lead to lower costs and efficiencies across the board.”


East Africa Ministers stay in the hotel whole day

Government Ministers from Rwanda and Uganda were forced to stay in their hotel rooms after Fred Matiangi, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication failed to turn up for the first day of Connected Kenya Summit.

Matiangi was meant to open the first day of Connected Kenya and launch the ICT Masterplan (revamped) but he was apparently/allegedly held up in meetings with the president and could not make it for the first day. Word is that he will arrive later tonight, to participate in the second day.

The minsters/reps from East Africa could not participate in the conference because protocol demands that if you visit a country in official government capacity, then your host must be there to receive you. If not, it would break protocol or raise an international incident.

It would be nice to hear stories of how Uganda and Rwanda have implemented the digital companies registry. Kenya is yet to get there.

Let us see if they turn up tomorrow….