Today, Kenya has more cell-phone subscriptions than adult citizens and more than 80 percent of those with a cell phone also use “mobile money” (or “M-PESA” which is very different from “mobile banking” as Michael Joseph–the former Safaricom CEO, and the man behind that revolution—can explain passionately!).
Internet access is also increasing rapidly, even though many are complaining about poor service by some operators. Within the next two years, Kenya could become one of the most connected, and modern economies in the developing world, and a unique case among the world’s poorer countries, that have an average annual income of below US$ 1000 per capita.
Kenya requires more communication satellites for it to make quick returns on its investments in space technology. The returns on investment in communication satellites usually take up to 15 years. A satellite is an artificial body placed in orbit round the earth or another planet in order to collect information and enables easy access for communication. The satellite has the capacity to generate income on a short term basis but not all the satellites. It takes 3-5 years to develop earth observation satellites, but to get quick returns of money from satellites, we need more communication satellites. All you need to do is your initial investment, the return on investment is very quick and it takes a shorter period to develop. You can still be reaping the income in 15 years’ time; we need more communication satellites for the interest of the country. The director also said that space technology in the country required entrepreneurs to promote products in the industry.
Space programs had the enormous potential to create employment. Space is not just about satellites, satellites are the pay load that delivers space products. With the kind of economy we operate, we need to develop space entrepreneurship which is lacking till date. I am in research development agency where I have my limitations in mass production. In design and manufacturing, we need customers and manufacturers that can boost our own production where we are lacking the facilities. It is not my business to do the marketing, it is for the entrepreneurs; I develop the products and I have the spin off. The images that innovators capture are enormous, a lot of people need them out there, but there is a gap between the producers and the market. When there are space entrepreneurs, they will market space products. The company marketing space products will employ one person and so on; space programme have enormous potential to create employment and reduce unemployment drastically.
The emerging social and economic impact has been remarkable. Businesses can operate more effectively: shop-owners don’t need to carry a lot of cash, or to stand in long queues at Banks to transfer money to suppliers. Urban dwellers no longer need to make overnight trips to their rural homes to pay their children’s school fees (or give money to relatives). Women have been empowered because their husbands have a harder time taking their money away. Even macroeconomic policy has become easier because the Central Bank has a better handle on the money in circulation, as mobile money helped to move cash from the mattresses to the market.