Earlier in the year Microsoft in partnership with Strathmore launched the Microsoft Policy Innovation Centre. Through the partnership, Microsoft sponsored the construction of the Microsoft Auditorium in its Sir Thomas Moore Building, and separately founded the high-tech Microsoft Policy Innovation Centre. The center is meant to provide a place for law students and academia to meet, discuss and lead the way in formulating technology relevant policies.

This week, Microsoft took the commitment to digitally transform the continent one step further by partnering with research company Dalberg. This partnership was cemented with the signing of an MOU between the three entities that now bring together three different fields to the table, that is industry, academia and advisory. The inclusion of Dalberg enabled the launch of a Digital Transformation Series. The series is meant to engage leaders, policy makers and technologists in conversations meant to decipher misconceptions and questions that exist around technology policy. This will in turn lead to the design of resilient technology and innovation policy across Africa.

According to Dr.Lius Francheschi from Strathmore University, laws are always 10-15 years behind the reality when it comes to Information Technology . A good example is the fact that Strathmore is the first and only zero carbon emission university in Africa. This is because they generate and use their own electricity through solar panels mounted on roofs. Excess power is then sold to Kenya Power & Lighting Company (K.P.L.C) through a Public Private Partnership. However, before this could be done there needed to be legislation put in place to regulate this. Strathmore with the help of Microsoft and Dalberg aided in the crafting of the legislation. Basically, the laws came into being due to Strathmore, but the upshot is that other players in the market are now using it to sell their power to K.P.L.C.

Most of the best innovations take place in unregulated spaces. Mpesa was born and thrived at a time when there were no regulations. If there were regulations in place, this innovation would not have seen the light of day. In United Kingdom and India, they tried to introduce mobile money but the banks having seen the success of Mpesa, ganged up to prevent mobile money from growing and becoming a threat.

The partnership between the three entities that Microsoft, Strathmore University and Dalberg is meant to make policy catch up with technological advances. This is with view of making laws an enabler rather than regulating as has bee the case. One of the ideas under discussion is increasing inclusivity for people with disabilities. This requires a shift in policy to make I.T an enabler. Through I.T, a person with a disability can become as able as the next person. Another idea in the works is an investor court, currently investors have been placed at a disadvantage as when they come to Kenya, they don’t know how the justice system works. Such a court would enhance and improve the justice system for foreign investors.

This partnership I believe will go a long way into making relevant policies for the I.T sector. If the P.P.P between K.P.L.C and Strathmore University is anything to by, we can only expect better things in the future.