Today marks the day when Kenya holds its first ever presidential debate that will be transmitted simultaneously by all tv and radio stations.The noise in today’s media, both online and offline surrounding the coming elections drowns out other important matters that needs to be discussed to unearth the opportunities that lie beyond getting a new face into state house. It is known that the current government has faced challenges in deploying IT based solutions due to a number of reasons such as complex procurement processes, red tape and sheer bloat that makes innovation an unknown and unwelcome term.
As we get into the devolved system of government, these challenges remain but with their potency much reduced as one has to deal with smaller organizational entities. With the added advantage of many private sector types jostling for the newly created leadership positions it is my hope that they will carry with them the private sector adoption of technology to derive intelligence that will be used for decision making or increasing efficiency across the many services that local government will be charged with. Vision 2030 outlines the areas of focus for the government at a top level while the constitution as per schedule four, cements the functions of the county government ; which cover agriculture, health services, culture, transport, environment among others. Baseline research on the county government functions looking at current pain points while layering of additional data starts to create the picture of opportunity.
Some thoughts along these lines would do well. The Kenyatta National Hospital ICT Master plan that was unveiled earlier this year is a five year top level road map with a set of 70 projects will cost approximately 3 billion shillings to implement. All the counties will need to be in sync with it with probably their own budgets to work with.
Information is power and while access to the internet is growing, the data onslaught makes it a confusing place to be for technophobes or those who still live offline – and those number in the millions. Picking on agriculture and education, it may be easier to establish trusted county based information dissemination channels that will address the information needs of a local demographic at profit.
The Commission on Revenue Allocation has allocated at least 15 percent of the “national cake” to the counties with 84.5 percent retained at national level and 0.5 percent in an equalization fund. The 15 percent earmarked for counties will be disbursed based on an algorithm that will take into account a number of factors which are population – 45%, basic equal share – 25%, poverty – 20%, land area – 8% and fiscal responsibility – 2%
Smart technology entrepreneurs can therefore determine county needs, their potential budgetary spend and target their marketing efforts appropriately. Innovation lies in the use of technology and I think it’s about time we see innovation migrate out of Nairobi where it is probably needed most and will have biggest impact.