Community of Practice established to foster an inclusive digital economy in Kenya

The ILO and government partners convened a two-day visioning workshop to establish a Community of Practice on promoting a Kenyan digital economy that is more productive, sustainable and inclusive for all.

News | 11 July 2023
Nairobi KENYA (ILO News) – Kenya’s digital economy is rapidly expanding and so are associated income generating opportunities. Following up with the recommendations of the Social Dialogue on the Digital Economy, held in April 2023, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (MoLSP) and the Ministry of Information, Communications and The Digital Technology (MoICT) of Kenya, co-hosted a visioning workshop in Kenya to support the establishment of a multistakeholder Community of Practice (CoP) from 18-19 June 2023.

The visioning workshop was a first-of-its-kind opportunity to bringing policymakers, regulators, the private sector, training providers, workers’ associations and other actors actively engaged in harnessing the transformative power of the digital economy. The discussions aimed to encourage collaboration and agree on a strategic direction for effective joint responses to advance inclusive digital growth.

The workshop served as one of a series of social dialogue efforts to identify policy, regulatory and sectoral practices, opportunities and bottlenecks. If addressed together and as part of a truly participatory process, the process can help move Kenya towards supporting and investing in a more inclusive, fair and productive digital economy.

The focus of these discussions proves timely, especially for traditionally underserved groups – including refugees and their hosting communities – as they also stand to benefit from digitally enabled livelihoods.

Priority areas to advance a digital inclusive transformation

The CoP is a mechanism to improve access to digital skills, jobs, and livelihoods in the digital economy. It integrates a core working group selected on the basis of a participatory stakeholder analysis, which include the MoICT, the Federation of Kenya Employers, Kenya Private Sector Alliance , the Central Organization of Trade Unions, the I-worker Association, the Kenya National Qualifications Authority, Kenya National Federation of Jua Kali Associations, the Communications Authority of Kenya, the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority, Microsoft, eMobilis and Learning Lions. Together, the members of the core working group defined the structure, functioning and composition of the CoP core working group, clarifying its role and responsibilities.

Additionally, the core working group identified five priority areas of collaboration:
  • innovation, job creation and entrepreneurship;
  • digital skills, digital inclusion and education;
  • e-commerce, digital financial services and digital platforms;
  • digital infrastructure, digital inclusion and access; and
  • digital government (legal, policy and regulatory frameworks) and governance.
These policy priorities were selected to respond to the need of addressing constraints to an inclusive digital transformation and stimulate strategic investment, policy design and coordinated implementation.

CoP - Core Working Group members

A phased approach to implementing the workplan, anchored in knowledge exchange

Each of the core working group members joined respective thematic sub-committees, as part of a stakeholder engagement and consultative process. The committees developed a five-month workplan to drive forward activities under each priority theme, in turn leading to the collation of discussion points, lessons learned and actionable solutions contributing to a sustainable strategy for the CoP. The working group also set the stage for a launch event of the CoP with an extended membership, envisioned for August 2023.

Caroline Njuki, Chief Technical Advisor at ILO, pointed out that “the CoP shall serve as a forum for knowledge exchange and research related to the digital economy. It will also foment policy dialogue and advocacy, encourage peer support networks and foster space for future partnership building opportunities. All in all, the work of the CoP will be anchored in policy and coordination analysis of recent advances, tools, and best practices specifically geared at bridging the gap in jobs and skills in the digital economy at large”.

Tune in to this video and hear directly from some of the participants why the CoP is important and how they each hope to contribute to its objective .

The PROSPECTS programme in Kenya and the Opportunity Fund project on the Promotion, inclusion and protection of refugees and host communities in the gig economy, funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands are supporting the CoP for driving the expansion of a digital economy that ensures growth while generating equity in access to skills and decent work opportunities for all.