Technology is something that should be embraced in every society. It tends to bring people and services closer. It makes things easier for people, although sometimes because of the fear of the unknown, people refuse to embrace it. Vision 2030 has been a topic of discussion since its inception with people worrying if we will make it to a middle-class economy by 2030. I can honestly say that the strides we have made in technology are more commendable than those in any other area.
The government has come up with ways to bring in seamless delivery of essential services to the public through technology. The public on the other hand has also done so much in lifting their weight by also offering technological solutions to everyday problems that face the common mwananchi and the government too.
How close are we to vision 2030 in regards to technology? Here are some of the strides we have made.
1. E-citizen – This is a web portal that contains all government services that you would find in the Huduma centers. This has enabled people access the services from the comfort of their houses or a cyber cafe instead of standing in line for hours on end at the Huduma centers. The use has to sign up to be able to access the services offered. This has come a long way since going to various government buildings for services, to having them in one place (Huduma Centers) and then taking the services online. Find out more about the services offered at eCitizen in this post You can now access Government services online using #eCitizen.
2. Free-Wi-Fi – Nakuru County was the first county to put Wi-Fi in a public space and for free. Nakuru got the Africom Awards in ‘Changing Lives ‘ category but the residents have reservations about the Wifi and its availability. They say it only covers like three hotspots. It was then followed by Kisumu County. This was done in collaboration with Liquid telecom and the County Governments. The people in the towns can access the Wi-Fi and respond to their emails, access other services that are found online. The Wi-Fi connection will also enable them improve service delivery in different sectors of their economy. This is something County Governments should explore.
3. Growth of Tech Hubs – There has been a great progress in the creation of tech hubs that serve as accelerators and incubators for startup companies. Some of the tech hubs in Kenya are iLab, Nailab, M: Lab East Africa, Garage48 just to name a few. In Bungoma they are coming up with a new tech hub that will be able to serve the people of the county and it will be called Maliti Tech hub. It will be opened on 17th December. These tech hubs give rise to new companies that work on solving daily problems that Kenyans face. They also offer employment opportunities to job seekers.
4. Konza City – this will be one of the biggest strides in as far as technology advancement is concerned. They are done with the Master Delivery Partner 1 which was procured for creating the business and master plan for phase one. They are now onto Master Delivery Partner 2 which will lead to construction of phase one infrastructure. Investors feel the economic viability of the project and hence have invested a lot of money to make sure it is a success.
5. Digitalent Programme – this is a program that was initiated in 2014 by the Ministry of ICT. The interns are supposed to work in government facilities for one year as they acquire industry and leadership skills. The program aims at transforming the manner in which ICT is utilized for efficient and effective service delivery. The beneficiaries of the program are qualified fresh graduates (within 2 years of graduation) and the ministries and state corporations.
6. Research laboratories – Research is key for any projects undertaken in any society. There are various research labs each doing different kinds of research in Kenya e.g. HP research lab in Strathmore University and IBM research Africa in Catholic University of Eastern Africa. For example IBM research Africa drives innovation by developing commercially-viable solutions that transform lives. Some of the main areas are water, agriculture, health, education etc.
7. BRCK – this is one of the greatest solutions to Africa’s problem in access to technology and education. They are devices that provide internet anywhere. They use cloud technology and has fail overs so that your connection remains as steady as possible. There is also the BRCK KIO kit which is a combination of the BRCK device and a toughened tablet. It comes with preloaded educational materials fit for 6 and 7 year olds for now. The suitcases they come in act as chargers and hence have revolutionized access to education even in areas with no electricity. If the partnership with the government is implemented it will revolutionize how children in rural areas learn.
8. Optic cable – four optical cables were laid down by the government. Because of this, the internet connectivity in Kenya became faster and cheaper. Internet is now slowly coming to every neighborhood through the fiber cable that is being laid down all over Kenya.
9. Digischool – this was opened in September this year. They provide devices to both the teachers and learners in their various schools in the country. They have trained over 61000 teachers as well as 150 master trainees.
They have four critical pillars:
• Development of digital content
• Supply of power to school
• Technology prepared teachers
• Accessibility of the content on multiple platforms
10. Conservation and technology – when it comes to the tourism sector, conservation of animals is one of the hot topics that are discussed. To make conservation easier and bring in more tourists, save the elephants and Google partnered and provided a virtual view of Samburu National Reserve. They want to tell stories of the elephant families in the park. They hope that by doing this people will share in the plight of elephants and take a conscious effort towards conservation.
11. The iTax System. One of the biggest projects the government undertook was to make KRA easier to reach and make it easier for tax payers to pay their taxes. This is why the iTax system was introduced. The iTax system is aimed at boosting tax compliance and revenue collection. KRA is leveraging on technology to increase tax compliance, to eliminate bureaucracy and corruption. One of the key changes includes introducing a single number for tax payers transacting online. You will only use your PIN number to submit your PAYE, Excise and VAT returns. iTax has reduced VAT & PAYE returns filing period to within 67 and 72 minutes respectively. It also provides instant feedback on transactions. It also saves taxpayers time and money as they can now file for refunds online.