Access to information is crucial for socio-economic growth. Information and communication technology (ICT) offers a powerful tool that, if deployed equitably, can ensure citizens are empowered and Government can deliver services more efficiently, effectively and in a transparent and accountable manner.
Dr. Fred Matiang’i, the National ICT Master Plan 2013/14 – 2017/18
The Kenyan government is at the forefront of embracing digital technologies, with the adoption of ICTs for efficient and timely service delivery. For example, ecitizen, MyGov, Nexus (hardly updated), active social media pages (Immigration, KRA, Huduma) and the most recent web portal, Delivery.This year, we are studying the dynamics of government communication with citizens on the ICT tools launched, specifically, the response mechanisms. This is drawn from the 2014 study in East Africa, on how ICTs are used to enhance a two-way interaction between citizens and government. One of the study findings was that governance needs are not comprehensively assessed before the creation/deployment of ICT tools, and that citizens are not optimistic about action being taken on the issues raised. Thus, limiting the use of the applications, which in the long run minimises citizen involvement and engagement.
The government has an impressive online presence, numerous websites, social media pages with active followers, some queries answered on time, but, does this translate to active citizenry? Who are these active users, urban users? What is the representation from rural areas? Could unresponsiveness be as a result of government’s non adherence to their proposed digital plan?
Kenya’s ICT Master Plan outlines the digital strategy2 needed to transform Kenya into a knowledge society and a regional ICT hub. Take a look at one of the flagship products, Huduma, against the Master plan, has it reached maturity from its inception? Pre Huduma, getting any service was dreadful, characterised by: long queues, manpower issues - lousy attitude, and inefficiencies. Fast forward to 2013, a network of government offices operated under one platform, delivered in various centres throughout the country. The outcome, hassle-free and faster service delivered to the people. Notwithstanding the accolades3, Huduma in 2017 shows little progression and one question clamours, who is responsible for following through on the digital strategy?
One of the desired outcomes in the Master ICT plan was to have 8 out of 10 users being ‘very satisfied’ with the quality of government’s electronic services. With an active citizenry online, how close is the government towards realising this goal? How does the public feel about the tools setup? Ask these questions against the backdropthat citizens' attitudes directly impact their trust or confidence in the government.
Share your experience on the ICT tools deployed by the government with us here…
1 Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania
2 A digital strategy is a document outlining the plan of action to be applied to transform the organisation’s processes, activities and models to leverage digital technologies. Applying the digital strategy results into digital maturity, when ICT tools have fully transformed an organisation.
3 Huduma Awards