ICT East Africa: A joint research project supporting the ICT sector
The arrival of sub-marine fiber optic cables in East Africa presents a significant development opportunity. The emerging ICT sector is poised to be a major pillar in the development of the region. Policy makers and multi-laterals have both invested significant capital to enable the growth of this sector. Key to the success of this nascent market will be the emergence of a critical mass of successful SMEs to act as a nucleus for growth. Research has shown, however, that these entrepreneurs face several challenges including: limited business skills, lack of access to financial resources, difficulty in accessing markets, and relevant business networks, a small number of skilled workers and finally, a weak regulatory framework that stifles innovation, entrepreneurship and SME development.
In order for SMEs – and by extension, the ICT sector – to successfully overcome these challenges, appropriate interventions must be identified and implemented. This is the objective of a joint research project sponsored by the multi-lateral consortium of Hivos, infoDev, and UKaid. The consultancy will be conducted by the Excelsior Firm, a strategic advisory and investment brokerage company focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa.
This project aims to understand the environment and challenges facing SMEs in the East African ICT sector through robust analyses and fieldwork, and intends to identify specific strategies and implementation plans needed to address these challenges. The project has three major objectives:
: Understand the East African ICT market dynamics including the internal and external environment
: Develop perspectives on the major challenges facing SMEs in this market as well as the critical success factors required to overcome these challenges
: Recommend solutions and an implementation for areas where DFID, Hivos and infoDev can best intervene to support local entrepreneurship and enhance the near term growth of SMEs
Approach and Timeline:
The work will involve primary research including workshops in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda as well as secondary research from the body of knowledge that already exists in this area. Using these methods the project will map the network of key stakeholders and SMEs within each market segment and understand the nuances of the challenges faced by SMEs. Out of this analysis, the project team will develop solutions and outline an implementation plan. The final presentation and report is expected by December 2010.
A blog for sharing:
This past week Hapee (my colleague at Hivos) and I launched a new blog we call the African TechHub. Basically a site we want to dedicate to the subject of technology as a platform for entrepreneurship. But in addition to aggregating resources on the subject, we want to use this blog to share the findings from this joint research study. If anything we want to prevent losing yet another study to the file cabinet:) At the same time we hope this blog and the associated research findings serve as a valuable information resource for the African IT sector at large.