iHub is pleased to announce the launch of phase 3 of the ICT4Democracy program that will run up-to May 2019. This phase will take into account Nairobi County as a model of best practice. The research will seek to replicate the model in other counties in a bridge the digital divide. As such, the project will seek to document and publicize good practices from Nairobi County in the utility and effectiveness of information literacy in promoting good governance, communication between and among citizens and leaders.
To provide a brief background, Kenya has made tremendous strides in moving towards digital transformation. Kenya’s 2013 government set its sights on easing service delivery and creating an efficient e-government using ICTs to “provide government e-services that are simple to use and convenient for citizens and businesses”. A digital strategy was mapped up to actualize this. From the study we conducted in 2017, we found that even with the launch of all these ICT tools there still seems to be a gap between implementation by government and use by citizens. Most of the government platforms are usually imposed on citizens without some formal training or nationwide campaign, which often brings fear. Technology therefore brings information overload, that requires information literacy (a subset of digital literacy) to sift through information and determine the ones that are most useful.
There is limited citizen participation on online channels attributed to slow response from government officials in Kenya, especially in semi urban and rural counties. Our findings outlined that most of the online channels are inactive as people prefer offline communication. Moreover, no educational programs are available to bring people online and to understand use of these ICT tools. Counties in Kenya are slowly and steadily up-taking
IT systems. However, phase 2 of this research detailed that majority of government officials have very basic digital literacy skills. iHub therefore conducted in 2018, training sessions in the Counties that equipped these officials with an overview of the digital landscape and an understanding of digital channels. One of the recommendations from the training was to increase the number of trainings both offline and online on different aspects of digital user journeys.
It is also important to note that most government officials outside Nairobi County lack awareness on the detrimental effects of lack of responsiveness as a result of ineffective systems for championing democracy. Nairobi County, which is incidentally the most “modern” city in Kenya has had significant success in implementing tools for effective responsiveness to its citizens, such as: the use of social media platforms (Twitter and Facebook Groups) to promote engagement between duty bearers and citizens, WhatsApp Messenger for rapid response in case of security issues or county related repairs, WhatsApp and Social Media for effective inter-ministerial coordination.
The good practices will for the basis of engagements with duty bearers/policy makers, provide evidence-based advocacy on the need for responsiveness, public consultation and supportive policies on ICT, human rights and democratic governance.
The objectives of this phase of the project will be to:
- Engage duty bearers through evidence-based advocacy on the need for responsiveness, public consultation and supportive policies on ICT, human rights and democratic governance.
- Research, document and publicise the utility and effectiveness of ICT in promoting good governance, communication between and among citizens and leaders to raise awareness and campaign for non-discrimination, freedom of expression, the right information and free press.
The project will seek to build the capacities of both county government officials and community members in three counties in Kenya (Kisumu, Mombasa, Eldoret) by providing further training to the target beneficiaries on the use of ICT platforms and tools for effective response, consultation and governance, with a WhatsApp platform as our “Test” case.