How Government Can Leverage on Big Data for it’s Big 4 Agenda

By Daniel Midega
  Published 15 May 2018
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The Kenya government will pay special attention to four key sectors that the administration believes will drive Kenya’s economic agenda. These are Food Security, Affordable Housing, Manufacturing and Universal Health Coverage and these have been christened “The Big 4”.

Big Data is data sets that are so voluminous and complex that traditional data-processing application software are inadequate to deal with them. Big data presents an array of challenges including capturing data, data storage, data analysis, search, sharing, transfer, visualization, querying, updating, information privacy and sources. With a population of more than 50 million, Kenya has potential to generate an extraordinary amount of data to analyze and the government has access to many insights about its citizens that help drive its agenda.

The use and adoption of big data within government processes ensures efficiency in terms of cost, productivity, and innovation, but also has its flaws. Data analysis will require multiple parts of government (Central and County) to work in collaboration and create new and innovative processes to deliver the desired outcome. It’s not just the amount of data they have available that will give the administration an edge achieving the Big 4 milestones and make the populus happy, it’s the government, its key partners and other players commitment to data processing that will help them extract meaning from it and make it powerful - thereby pushing the country closer and closer to data informed decision making.

A great example on how government can utilize Big Data is in the health sector under Pillar 4 - Universal Health Coverage. With the current health craze in Kenya and adoption of healthy lifestyles around the world, the level of data generated within healthcare systems is very significant. With adoption of mHealth, eHealth and wearable technologies, the volume of data will continue to increase. This includes electronic health record data, imaging data, patient generated data, sensor data, and other forms of difficult to process data. This demonstrates an even greater need for such environments to pay greater attention to data and information quality.

The real test of ‘Big Four’ will lie in successful implementation, monitoring and evaluation of these promises through realistic plans supported by credible budget allocations, transparent public spending and accountability for results. It is how the agenda feeds into our 2018-2022 Medium-Term Plan and annual budgets that will be of interest and how analysis of Big Data from the population will inform decisions on implementation. The success of the Big Four will depend highly on the country fixing its policy-to-results cycle.  Big Data has the potential to move Kenya beyond traditional public finance management and the accounting mess that presented in Kenya’s Integrated Financial Management Information System. The success of the ‘Big Four’ will also demand close collaboration between national and county governments and all players in the tech and data sectors.


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