Kenyan Tech Firms Lobby for Government Software Tenders


Innovators are lobbying to have the first option in developing software for government ministries, departments and parastatals, saying this would help the nascent segment grow while offering the public sector more customised solutions.

With the government as the biggest buyer of software in Kenya, participants at an Institute of Economic Affairs pre-budget hearing said small tech firms have the capacity to develop software solutions that deepen checks and balances in government institutions.

"The Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons, is a good candidate because its stock-in-trade is information about citizens and visitors to Kenya," said Seven Seas Technologies general manager Adam Nyaga.

Kwame Owino of the Institute of Economic Affairs said a directive should be passed similar to that of purchase of furniture for government offices from local firms.

ICT is one of the drivers of the economy with small and medium enterprise (SME) sector seen as one to boost Kenya to a middle-income country. Promoting local entrepreneurs would help the government get back its return on investment, Kamau Gachigi from the University of Nairobi's Science and Technology Park said. "These are the products of our education," he said.

Kenyan companies have proved that they are globally competitive and if local firms can shine abroad, servicing the government should be child's play, said Samuel Nyumba, a consultant at Intrepid Data Systems.

Virtual City won the million dollar top prize at the Nokia World and Developer Summit in London is September last year and the Ushahidi platform, a crisis reporting tool was recognised globally and used during the Haiti earthquake.

Kenya's 470 public institutions, 46 ministries, 178 state corporations, 175 local authorities and 71 tertiary institutions offer an opportunities for SMEs. "We need locally customised solutions as opposed top off the shelf software," said Nyumba.