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South Korea gives Konza smart city new lease of life


Kenya’s push to actualise a smart city at the Konza Technopolis has gained momentum with the roll-out of four new projects.

The projects, under its second phase, are an Intelligent Transport System (ITS) and Integrated Control Centre, the establishment of a Startup Ecosystem, the development of Smart Logistics in Konza and the development of the Konza-Nairobi Corridor Transport Network.

The four projects under the Economic Innovation Partnership Program (EIPP) are backed by a grant from the government of South Korea.

Konza Technopolis is a flagship project of Kenya’s Vision 2030 economic development and is set to become the country’s technology and innovation hub.

“Konza Technopolis has identified several candidate projects for consideration and I am pleased to note that four additional projects have been approved for implementation during the second year of the development program,” ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo said on Tuesday at the launch of the projects.

The four projects follow the successful completion of targets in the development of Konza City in the first year.


Finance sector bets on AI to lock out hackers


Experts are pushing for use of artificial intelligence (AI) to hasten the speed of stopping cybersecurity threats in companies.

Abdullahi Sheikh, the founder and CEO of Konvergenz, a cyber security firm in Kenya told the Business Daily that with the surge in cyber attacks as businesses migrate online, there was a need to employ fast and more responsive tech.

He said in the financial sector, AI was the best bet to curb the ever-costly intrusions.

AI employs statistical models to predict patterns, which then help to avert fraud. Unlike humans, technology works tirelessly, giving it an edge.

“The AI process of responding to any detected card fraud is if an SMS is sent to you indicating that you are making a transaction, and through behavioural analytics, the bank detects that you have not spent, there is an interface for the machine to call the bank and disable the card automatically. Then it connects to human customer care and a call is sent out to the client to inform them of an attempt on their account that was averted. The machine does 80 percent of the work,” Mr Sheikh said.


5G network subscriptions reach 300,000 on demand

5g-phoneDAILY NATION By Brian Ambani

Friday, March 10, 2023

The number of 5G mobile internet subscriptions hit 299,904 at the close of the first three months of commercial deployment of the technology, which grants users super-fast internet speeds.

The first-ever data by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) on 5G technology subscriptions, shows a significant growth in sign-ups even as local firms accelerate plans to roll out the service to more locations.

“The continued roll-out of the 5G network, coupled with the landing of the PEACE (Pakistan & East Africa Connecting Europe) cable, will enable consumers to access superfast internet speeds, particularly in areas with high population density, and for linking connected devices, such as in manufacturing and healthcare,” said CA.

A majority (20.52 million) of Kenya’s 47.76 million internet subscriptions between October and December were on 4G technology, 11.06 million on 3G and 15.87 million were on 2G.


Safaricom phone tracking to arrest bank ATM fraud


Safaricom has rolled out an "ATM Vicinity Check" technology that will help banks ensure that cash withdrawals can only be conducted if the transacting customer is within the vicinity of the machine.

The solution, to be offered to commercial banks for free, is aimed at arresting the rising cases of banking fraud where criminals use their victims’ cards and/or information to withdraw funds from ATM points.

There are several ways through which criminals steal funds from cash machines including cloning ATM cards, trapping the cards at the machines and collecting information on the cards.

Others involve withdrawing cash from a victim’s account using M-Pesa. The new solution from Safaricom is designed to tie ATM transactions to the genuine account owner’s physical location, making it harder for fraudsters to carry out their schemes.

“The solution works by comparing the geographical location of the ATM and the customer requesting a withdrawal from the specific ATM based on the location of the cell phone mast serving the customer,” said Safaricom in an email response to Business Daily.


World Bank lines up to fund Kenya’s digital drive


Friday February 24 2023

Kenya is set to roll out an initial 5,000 of the planned 100,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable by June this year aided partially by funding from the World Bank.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo, speaking on Thursday at the ongoing third edition of the digital summit organised by the Nation Media Group in Mombasa, said the National Treasury is currently engaged in talks with the global financial institution to secure part of the funding for roll out of the digital superhighway.

“With Cabinet approval already in place, we are now set to roll out an initial 5,000 kilometres by June 2023. We are also in talks with the World Bank, through the National Treasury, to secure part of the funding for the digital superhighway, through the Kenya Digital Economy Acceleration Project (KDEAP),” said Owalo.


Data protection trends, enforcement in Kenya


Tuesday February 21, 2023

It has been just over three years since the Kenyan Data Protection Act 2019 (“DPA”) was enacted.

Its implementation has moved at a brisk pace with, among other things, the establishment of the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, the introduction of supplementing laws, sustained public awareness campaigns and most recently, regulatory action and enforcement.

Last month’s International Data Privacy Day provided an opportunity to reflect on some of the recent enforcement trends locally and abroad and their implications for data controllers and processors in Kenya in 2023 and beyond.

One of the mandates of the ODPC is to conduct audits on organisations that process personal data and establish whether such processing aligns with the data protection principles and other requirements set out in the DPA and supporting regulations.

On 5 October 2022, the ODPC issued a notice that it was conducting an audit and assessment on 40 Digital Credit Providers (DCPs).

It also issued an enforcement notice against the Aga Khan University Hospital for failure to comply with the data protection laws.


How Israeli hackers hit Ruto strategists, IEBC officials days to polls

ruto-bomas-pixDAILY NATION By  Brian Wasuna

Thursday, February 16, 2023

A group of Israeli disinformation contractors hacked into email and social media accounts of senior election officials and President William Ruto’s close allies just days before the 2022 polls, an investigative report has revealed.

A consortium of journalists across the world has been investigating how Israeli national Tal Hanan led a team of disinformation experts in manipulating dozens of elections across the world.

The journalists posed as potential clients and held several meetings with the Israelis, some of which were secretly recorded.

Details of the investigation and findings of the international consortium of journalists have been revealed in a series of stories published by the UK-based media outlet, The Guardian.

While the media house did not name the officials, the Nation has established that digital campaign strategist Dennis Itumbi was one of two Ruto allies who had their social media accounts hacked.


Experts urge safety drills in free public Wi-Fi drive


Tech experts have asked the government to accompany the ongoing free Wi-Fi with a cybersecurity awareness drill to protect wananchi from threats as the State plans 25,000 public hotspots across the country.

Without cyber safety training, they have warned, the project could hand hackers a new window to pounce on unsuspecting users.

According to multinational software company Symantec, over 60 percent of consumers believe their information is safe while using public Wi-Fi and are completely unaware of existential risks they are exposed to.

Dangers inherent in free hotspots include malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks among others and have been on a sharp rise in recent years as the country’s online commerce steadily grows.


Amend ICT tax laws to spur State digital plan


Wednesday February 08 2023

Last week, the Cabinet held its first meeting of the year and top on the agenda was the Kenya Kwanza multi-billion shilling digital transformation project.

President William Ruto is keen to build on the gains made in the country’s ICT sector over the past decade and reports indicate that public officials across the government have been urged to prioritise the ambitious undertaking.

Kenya seeks to automate provision of over 5,000 public services within six months and reports says over 1,200 services have been on-boarded on the e-Citizen platform.

This is a significant undertaking whose direct results - business process automation, digitisation of records, data sharing and analytics across multiple agencies - will impact how both individual Kenyans and companies interact with the government on a daily basis.


Watchdog certifies 1,400 entities as data handlers


The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) has issued compliance certificates to 1,417 entities that have registered as data processors and controllers, up from 332 that had been issued as of September 2 last year.

Data Protection Commissioner Immaculate Kassait who spoke on Friday at the launch of the Data Protection Registration System said the certificates would be renewable after every two years.

“The new registration system will be able to display the entire process of registration and everything will be completed online. So you go to the website, you apply for registration, we verify your documents and we issue a digital certificate renewable after two years,” she said.

The registration commenced on July 14 last year following the enactment of a new set of regulations by Parliament in March requiring all entities handling the personal information of individuals in Kenya to register as data controllers or processors.


Geoffrey Shimanyula: How KeNIC plans to grow uptake of dot ke domain


Kenya's local web domain dot ke has recently come under sharp focus over safety concerns blamed for sluggish uptake compared to other top-level domains (TLDs).

The Business Daily sat with Geoffrey Shimanyula, the chairman of Kenya Network Information Centre (KeNIC) which handles the registration and issuance of the domain to discuss what they are doing to increase uptake and its role in digitising the economy.

How many websites are currently on the dot ke domain?

We crossed the 100,000 mark in November last year. It’s not that we haven’t grown, what does happen in this business is that people register a domain name for a specific purpose and when that purpose ends, they forget about it.

So our biggest challenge has been to renew these domains. Out of the about 110,000 dot ke domains registered as of now, we have around 80 percent active websites.


ELIUD OWALO: Will strategist deliver Kenya's ICT goodies?


Monday January 16 2023

ICT Cabinet secretary Eliud Owalo must understand well the adage that the riskier the bet the higher the reward.

By supporting William Ruto for the presidency during the August General Election, Mr Owalo had staked everything on the ‘‘away team’’ when regional politics overwhelmingly bet on Raila Odinga.

The gamble could backfire badly and sink the man from Asembo, Siaya, into oblivion or elevate him to national prominence.

His appointment in September to head the powerful ICT ministry upon Dr Ruto’s victory placed him in the driving seat of the digital agenda and effectively made him one of the most influential men in the current regime.

His bet had paid off.

Hosting President Ruto in his Nyanza backyard last week for his homecoming party added more jewels to the crown of this professional whose fortune seems to be on an incline.


How to identify and curb phishing attacks


As companies take more of their business processes online, and as individuals increasingly adopt e-commerce, phishing has emerged as one of the leading cyber threats in Kenya.

During the July-September period of last year, Communication Authority of Kenya data showed there was a rise in financial phishing targeted at e-commerce and e-payment platforms where cyber criminals sent fake alerts from financial institutions and e-payment systems for purposes of obtaining unsuspecting victims’ credentials and data.

How do companies tackle this potentially very costly threat?

Local experts say humans are the weakest link that cybercriminals regularly exploit to launch attacks.

The onus, they say, is therefore on individuals and companies to regularly train their staff to identify the seemingly harmless lurking threats.

Winnie Sergon, head of the IT department at Boresha Sacco says human errors that lead to phishing attacks are common since the human mind is limited to only what they know.

“If ‘James,’ a user tells you he got married in 2008, definitely the password is James2008. If he got his firstborn in 2012, his commonly used password will oscillate around the same," says Ms Sergon.


Will Africa sustain AI momentum?


The revolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quietly underway in Africa. This technology is transforming every walk of life.

It is a tool that enables people to rethink how we integrate information, analyze data, and use the resulting insights to improve decision-making.

Although AI has been around for many years, it has only recently become popular. For example, one can teach a computer to detect a brain tumour from medical imaging using cancerous images from past data.

As a result, it helps doctors to decide the treatment the patient needs and minimize costs quickly.

For Africa, AI presents many opportunities that can put the continent at the forefront of the digital revolution. Africa cannot and should not be left behind.


How Google Play changes will affect digital lenders


Digital lenders in Kenya will have to file a self-declaration form and license from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) with the tech giant, Google, in order to remain placed under Google Play.

Google last week published new policies that will force mobile loan lenders to disclose the requirements from the banking regulator within a month in order ‘to remain or publish new personal loan apps on Play Store.

Play Store allows web and android users to access applications for their phones. This means millions of short-term borrowers will be unable to download or get an update on the applications from lenders that fail to comply with the new policies.

The American tech firm will also remove hundreds of mobile apps from its platform if they fail to prove their permits to operate before the deadline on December 15.

“Digital Credit Providers (DCP) should complete the DCP registration process and obtain a license from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). You must provide a copy of your license from the CBK as part of your declaration,’’ Google said in the Developer Program Policy.


The journey to a 5G future starts now


Every few years, humanity experiences great technological advancements. At the point of innovation, the potential impact of such advancements is often understated. However, as time unfolds, these innovations become part and parcel of our daily lives, delivering great transformational impact across society.

The telecommunications sector is one where network advancements coupled with increasing affordability and availability of devices, has transformed how we connect to people, knowledge, and opportunities.

Looking at the evolution of mobile technology, the first generation, 1G, cut the cord for voice calls and ushered in a new era of communication.

This was enhanced by the emergence of 2G, which also introduced Internet on the go. The introduction of 3G mainstreamed web-browsing, while 4G brought about higher Internet speeds, video streaming, and the advent of cloud computing.

5G is anchored on four broad areas, with the first being super-fast speeds. 5G is up to 10 times faster than the 4G network. Another advantage is 5G’s almost non-existent latency, which can enable a host of applications which require near-instant responses.

This paves the way for deployment of robotic applications that can react even faster than humans.


Safaricom 5G users to pay higher mobile data tariffs

5gSafaricom customers with 5G-enabled smartphones will pay higher tariffs for the high-speed mobile data services that the firm plans to roll out in December.

The giant telco will start selling super-fast Internet to customers with fifth-generation network-compatible smartphones before the end of the year after making the services available on Wi-Fi for businesses and homes on Thursday.

The expansion of the high-speed Internet network will equip more individuals and enterprises with 5G for use at work, at home and when on the move, helping Safaricom to tap into the burgeoning mobile Internet adoption in the country.

But the consumers on the 5G network will have to pay higher Internet tariffs compared to those offered on 3G and 4G networks to reflect the billions of shillings spent on the infrastructure upgrade.

“Plans are already underway to provide 5G data packages for mobile Internet which will be ready by December,” Safaricom chief executive Peter Ndegwa said, without fleshing out details.


ICT Cabinet nominee promises to revive failed school laptops project


The government will revive the collapsed Jubilee administration’s school laptop project alongside a massive digital literacy programme rollout.

Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary nominee Eliud Owalo, who appeared before the National Assembly’s Committee on Appointment on Friday, was responding to a question on how the President William Ruto-led government would actualise its pledge to lower data and calls.

“This is something that I believe is doable and in any case, we will do it through the Konza technopolis. There is already a rollout of the distribution of these laptops. But it’s not just an issue of distribution, it must be in tandem with simultaneous undertaking of a massive e-literacy programme at all levels so that the demand in the market is responded to,” said Mr Owalo.


State fibre optic cable job costs Telkom Kenya Sh557m in loss


Telkom Kenya incurred a Sh575 million loss for running a government-owned fibre optic network worth Sh16 billion, a new audit shows.

A forensic audit on the National Optic Fibre Backbone (Nofbi) Phase 1 project shows that Telkom Kenya ceased carrying out operations and maintenance in December last year.

It reveals that Telkom Kenya earned Sh2.33 billion in revenue from leased out Nofbi Phase I infrastructure from June 2011 to December 2021 when it ceased carrying out operations and maintenance.

However, the State firm incurred Sh2.9 billion in cumulative costs for operating Nofbi infrastructure—which provides telecommunications connectivity in all 47 counties--over the 10-year period.


Cyber bandits rebound as in-person shopping back


Cybercriminals are now shifting their targets to physical points of vulnerability as in-person commerce resumes to pre-Covid-19 levels, a new report shows.

The Visa Global Risk Investigations report shows that while fraud during the pandemic period was concentrated to online scams, in-person attacks are now trending higher as criminals widen their gambits.

According to the report released Tuesday, card-present threats such as physical skimming on ATMs and point-of-sale terminals increased 176 percent during the 12-month period to December 2021.

“As in-person commerce returns to pre-pandemic levels, crooks are back to exploiting the physical points of vulnerability in stores, while continuing to capitalise on e-commerce through malware, ransomware and phishing attacks, among others,” said Visa Chief Risk Officer, Paul Fabara.

Digital commerce, which was vastly accelerated by the pandemic remains the richest target for cyber-attacks.

“The Covid-19 pandemic gave a boost to digital money movement, from online purchases to contactless payments and smartphone wallets, as consumers worldwide sought to shop without touching anything or going anywhere,” notes the survey of global business done by the MIT Technology Review Insights.


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