ICT in promoting participatory urban governance

The world today has found itself in the grips of an ICT revolution that is hard to ignore for any sensible person.

ICTs are technologies used for collecting, storing, editing and passing information in various forms through nimble and quick means.

ICT technologies, since the sixties, have given direction to world economies. In the last few decades ICT has itself condensed buttressed foundations of these economies.

Kenya, like majority of Africa, came into the realisation that ICT would permeate every sector of domestic life and hence the country’s economy.

Even so, the country has made mammoth steps in the field of ICT, arguably outshining its EAC neighbours and even drawing attention from the rest of the world for inventions such as M-PESA.

Right now, the most profitable company in East and Central Africa is a Kenyan owned Telco. This goes to tell how the country has moved fast to embrace ICT.

It therefore goes without saying that the future in Kenya is ICT.

Tumetoka analogue tunaenda digital’ is a popular phrase coined as the country transitioned in the last decade through the digital revolution.

With the creation of e-citizen, it is fair to say that the Kenyan government is well underway in embracing technology: internalising ICT through its processes.

Today some octogenarians operate smartphones. They send and receive money via their mobile phones. They use these gadgets to read news and shop online.

This is why ICT is critical for the future. It will only get worse as new innovations come up.

And if President Uhuru Kenyatta is to make it with his Big Four – or do enough to have significant impact – he will need to embrace every aspect of ICT as it pertains these ambitions.

As such, there will be need for government to be e-literate in order to competently carry out its business.

It is also worth noting that Kenyans are able to transact; buy and sell goods; pay fines; get reimbursed; or do applications within the confines of their private spaces.

In future, it will be possible to answer charges in a court of law without requiring to be present before a judge.

All over the world citizens have found their voice on social media. At the touch of a button (or a smartphone screen) they are able to say that which they believe. Technology has given citizens who were hitherto voiceless a voice.

The same citizens can almost directly interact with their leaders who have always seemed removed from their reach.

Leaders, powerful individuals in governments, judges, lawyers, doctors, parastatals, government agencies – the list is endless – are all on social media.

Today, hardly does a human rights abuse case go unnoticed thanks to citizens being active on social media. Uganda has witnessed this lately when millions of people across the world tweeted for the release of Bobi Wine, an MP, who was being held by the army to be present before a court martial.

ICT has no doubt whipped up human energy in a way that not even democracy has. It will be prudent that relevant authorities harness these energies to achieve better governance: which should be quick, just, evidential and just.

In July 2011, President Mwai Kibaki inaugurated the Kenyan Open Data: a portal for open government data as a strategy for transparency, efficiency and innovation.

In neighbouring Tanzania, the health care provider D-tree is using mobile phones to provide accurate and effective point-off-care diagnosis and treatment in areas where doctors are few or non-existent; a service named m-health.

The Geneva Action Plan which African Heads of States and Governments signed in December 2003 lays out how governments will use ICT to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of internal functions and processes within government departments and institutions through internetworking, while also being transparent and providing citizens access to information.

It is for this reason that ARCrayon aims to play a catalytic role in developing and strengthening ICT enabled innovations on city governance systems to enhance two-way interaction between government and citizens.

The Agency develops different types of ICT tools, focused on three areas of governance: service delivery, access to information and citizen participation. They are also based on the following four basic models

  • G2G (Government to Government): Government services aimed at serving other governments using information and internet technologies
  • G2C (Government to Citizens): Government provision of services to its citizens through the internet
  • G2B (Government to Business): Government services to businesses that can be obtained over the internet
  • G2E (Government to Employees): Government coordinating operations with its employees using information technologies