World Bank approves funding for digital transformation in Kenya and Senegal

World Bank approves funding for digital transformation in Kenya and Senegal

The World Bank has approved funding for digital initiatives in two African nations.

The Kenya Digital Economy Acceleration Project has been awarded US$390 million in financing for its first phase, which will run from 2023-2028 and is aimed at increasing access to high speed internet, boosting skill development within the digital economy, and augmenting digital education services. The second phase will begin concurrently in 2026 and run until 2030, with the goal of creating a secure, data-driven environment for the provision of digital services.

CommsUpdate reports that a further US$100 million in private capital is likely to be mobilised for broadband infrastructure. These funds will be used for building out fibre-optic backbone to boost connectivity to educational and government institutions.

‘Broadening access to digital technologies and services is a cross-cutting pathway to accelerate economic growth and job creation, improve service delivery, and build resilience,’ said Keith Hansen, World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda. ‘The Kenya Digital Economy Acceleration Project aims to help make Kenya’s growth more equitable by shrinking disparities in digital skills and connectivity, and expanding the digital marketplace.’

Tim Kelly, Lead Digital Development Specialist at the World Bank commented: ‘The initiative will increase last mile connectivity by boosting broadband network coverage for over 70% of Kenya’s population that resides in rural and underserved areas… Kenya’s digital agenda, reflected in the ambitious ICT Master Plan, aims to transform the country into a regional ICT hub by increasing fibre-optic coverage to 100,000km and digitising 80% of public services.’

On the other side of the continent, the World Bank has approved a US$150 million grant for Senegal to boost its digital transformation – in particular, by shoring up the legal and regulatory frameworks around the country’s digital economy, but also by boosting literacy and digital access.

This is expected to increase the number of citizens who are able to access digital public services and digital healthcare, such as telemedicine, electronic medical records, or apps to manage immunisation. CommsUpdate notes that it will also go towards strengthening broadband infrastructure, particularly in the Casamance and Groundnut Basin areas.

Similarly to Kenya, the investment forms part of a broader strategy – the Digital Economy Acceleration Project (Projet d’Acceleration de l’Economie Numerique, PAEN), which is in turn aimed at bringing about Axis I of the Emerging Senegal Plan (Plan Senegal Emergent, PSE) – an overarching plan that Senegal hopes will turn the country into an emerging economy by 2035.

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