Now running on its seventh year, the Connected East Africa Summit (formerly Connected Kenya), the brainchild of ICT Authority in consultation with ICT industry players and government decision makers, is set to kick off today at Leisure Lodge in Diani, Kwale County.

The summit’s theme is ‘The Strength in Our Networks.’ The event was first held in Kenya in 2009 and expanded to East Africa in 2015. The regional conference will address issues of building an integrated ICT infrastructure and policies in the region. The East Africa countries have formed an inter-ministerial committee which looks into breaking regional barriers in harmonisation of ICT. This committee will report their progress at the Summit.

The Connected East Africa Summit aims to establish a platform for collaboration, capacity building and knowledge sharing between government and the ICT sector with a view of linking and hastening implementation of government IT projects to world-class standards.

This year’s event will see among other things the implementation of the Kenya ICT Masterplan-Caucus. The Caucases were formed following a request by the Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Fred Matiang’i for support in overseeing the implementation of the projects outlined in the National ICT Master Plan launched in April 2014. The objective of the caucus groups is to ensure the interests of Kenya’s ICT sector stakeholders are represented throughout the ICT Master Plan implementation process and if necessary, in the review and updating. The mandate of the Caucuses will be to play a thought leadership role throughout the design, updating and implementation of the National ICT Master Plan.

The summit also seeks to recognize and celebrate women in technology for their accomplishments as leaders in business, visionaries in technology and women who made a difference in their society. The session will also seek to recognize a woman in the tech scene and award her. The session to be graced by such inspirational women as Hon. Rebecca Joshua Okwaci, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, South Sudan.

The summit will also focus on the Netherlands Trust Fund III (NTF III) project that was launched in Kenya in February as well as look into Enterprise Kenya, a national accelerator that will catalyse innovations and provide entrepreneurs with needed support in their innovation journey. The initiative was an outcome of the inaugural Kenya ICT Innovation Forum held on 2nd and 3rd February, 2015 in Nairobi.

The Summit will also feature an Award Ceremony that will celebrate innovation in ICT. The Awards have recognized some the region’s top start-ups like Ushahidi, EatOut, iCow, Michezo Afrika, Kuza Biashara, Tusquee Systems, Shamba Shape Up, Ma3Route, among others.

Some of today’s leading government projects have links with the Connected Summit. With its remarkable mix of decision-makers from government and leading ICT thinkers from industry, the Summit has enabled its participants to develop unique insights that allow them to successfully respond and design their engagement in the region’s vibrant ICT sector. In Kenya, projects such as Kenya Open Data Initiative, Huduma citizen’s portal and the development of a national Information Security Policy were informed or refined from discussions and panels held at Connected.

Among the key objectives for this year’s summit will include:

To address gaps in ICT integration and shared infrastructure among the East African Member states

To speed-up harmonization of ICT regulation across the region

To build support on ongoing ICT integrated infrastructure projects across the East African region.

To provide a platform for meaningful networking that will result in fruitful relationships that contribute to the economic development of the East African region.

The summit is set to run from 30th March up to 2nd April 2015. The event has attracted delegates across the East African region.