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Google announces free websites for Kenyan SMEs

Kenyan businesses onlineGoogle, in partnership with Safaricom and Equity Bank, plans to bring small and medium scale enterprise (SMEs) businesses in Kenya online for free. The project, dubbed ‘Getting Kenyan Businesses Online (GKBO)’, provides a template for SMEs to log onto www.kbo.co.ke and fill in information to upload onto their new website.

The Google-led effort will give SMEs the opportunity to create their own website at zero cost. With 10.2 million internet users in Kenya, Google Kenya country manager, Olga Arara-Kimani, said the initiative would transform the SME landscape, while positively impacting the economy. Speaking at a Nairobi hotel, Arara-Kimani said many small businesses stay away from having a website as they assume it is complicated and expensive. “We are providing your own, easy-to-build website for mobile and desktop. The SME will be listed online under our website, www.kbo.co.ke. If we are able to get these businesses online, where we are now seeing that they are not only being found locally, but have the opportunity to be found internationally; they can contribute to the growth of the business,” she said.

The GKBO website is mobile and desktop compatible allowing SMEs to personally manage the site and update business information in real time. The resources available to them include a shopping cart service and SMS alerts that will providing the number of hits on their website. The main objective of the drive is to enable business development and growth of the Kenyan SME sector.

As per a recent Google study, one in three mobile Internet searches in the East African region pertains to local information. Ministry of Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo feels that GKBO also helps in addressing the issue of high registration prices for website domains that often discourage SMEs from signing up. “The storage capacity in this country is four times as expensive as it is outside. If it continues to be expensive, it will discourage people from getting local domains. What Google brings in is the leveraging of their capacity for storage to bring down costs,’ he said.

He said the government was taking steps to boost cyber security through the Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT) at the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK). CIRT will receive, review and respond to computer security incident reports and activity, as well as create awareness of cyber security issues through the provision of cyber security advisories. Partners involved in the GKBO initiative include Safaricom, Equity Bank, the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information and Communication, World Bank and Kenya Network Information Centre.

Image courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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