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IBM maps way towards Kenya's Vision 2030

o Peter Nalika
23.03.2011 kl 13:51 | CIO East Africa

On the 21 of February 2011, a team of consultants from the IBM's Corporate Service Corps programme arrived in Nairobi for a one-month project in Nyeri. They worked alongside the Kenya ICT Board, the Kenya e-Government initiative, the Ministry of Information and Communication and the Postal Corporation of Kenya on a number of initiatives to help meet key ICT objectives laid out in the Vision 2030 plan.

 

On the 21 of February 2011, a team of consultants from the IBM's Corporate Service Corps programme arrived in Nairobi for a one-month project in Nyeri. They worked alongside the Kenya ICT Board, the Kenya e-Government initiative, the Ministry of Information and Communication and the Postal Corporation of Kenya on a number of initiatives to help meet key ICT objectives laid out in the Vision 2030 plan.

Through Vision 2030, Kenya intends to create a globally competitive and adaptive human resource base through continuous training and education, by raising labour productivity to international levels and creating new technical training institutions.

According to IBM, this will be achieved by setting collaboration between industry and training institutions, by devoting more resources to scientific research and raising the quality of science and technology education at the universities.

At an event last week on Friday, the IBM team of researchers shared their findings to each of the participating government bodies as follows:

1. Kenya ICT Board

The ICT sector, which expanded by 23% annually and out-performed all other sectors over the last decade, plays a key role in Kenya's potential for economic growth. While the government has addressed ICT infrastructure bottlenecks, human resources continues to be a challenge. With the increasing sophistication of ICT and its applications, high-end skill sets are increasingly required and availability presents a challenge to growth.

Students and professors have little industry exposure and given the newness of the ICT revolution in Kenya, ICT employees have limited experience and exposure to large-scale ICT projects. Companies are forced to outsource foreign expertise for specialized ICT roles, such as working on critical issues and new systems implementations; these experts turn out to be very expensive.

The Kenya ICT Board therefore creates a mechanism for developing and sustaining high-end talent by removing the skills gap between industry requirements and the capabilities of the local workforce. This includes reducing the need for foreign expertise in ICT projects, retaining current high-end talent, and creating a mechanism for effective skills transfer and training.

The team proposed that the Kenya ICT Board should join conjunction with professional organizations (such as Computer Society of Kenya) to encourage and facilitate the use of business experts to share industry best practices and serve as guest lecturers or adjunct professors at universities.

They also proposed that the Board and the media should publicly recognize industry initiatives of investing in the development of young talent. It should encourage industries to design skill transfer programs for foreign experts on short-term assignments through specific contract deliverables.

As the country seeks to become a regional hub of research and development in new technologies, in partnership with industry, the Kenyan government plans to increase funding to enable the impacted institutions to support such activities. The scope for Kenya Team 2 Sub-team 3 hence seeks to support Kenya Vision 2030 and its goals, specifically in the ICT industry, as the need for timely availability of high-end talent is critical to meeting its growth objectives

2. Kenya e-Government, Ministry of Information and Communication

Kenya e-Government looks at this from a legal perspective. As with many rapid changes occur due to the evolution of ICT, legal frameworks struggle to keep up with the issues that state of the art technology brings.

The Kenyan government is offering some services online already, and has many more services in development, but these services are not offered on the same firm legal or regulatory footing as the manual processes that they are replacing or supplementing.

The challenge presented characterize the current state of the Kenyan e-government legal framework, study global best practices for e-Government, determine key principles from those practices, adopt them to the Kenyan environment, and propose legal initiatives. These initiatives were to be targeted to facilitate adoption of e-Government services, maximize their effectiveness and ensure their sustainability.

For instance, there is no universal key to uniquely identify people, companies, land, assets, etc. across all government data holdings. To prevent systems from being redundant, there is need for a reference and coordination with the public data warehouses, eliminating the repetitive expense, inconvenience and potential inaccuracy of capturing multiple copies of data.

The e-Government recommends key principles to be enshrined in Kenyan legislation and regulation. These include publishing and requiring adherence to standard data formats, compelling concentration or coordination of national data assets, eliminating duplicate collection and storage of data, confirming the ownership of public data by the people of Kenya, categorizing data appropriately to maximize proper protection and access and securing data while maximizing public access.

For example, legislation is needed to authorize the Directorate of e-Government to set government-wide data standards that can be enforced on both newly procured and legacy systems. This interoperability will allow for government agencies to more accurately, securely and efficiently exchange information, even enabling the offering of certain services electronically that currently require face-to-face interaction.

As Kenya strives to reach the economic, political and social goals of the Vision 2030 framework, and as it works to realize the guarantees of equality of access to responsive public services under the Kenyan Constitution, modernizing the tools of government to be more effective and equitable assumes a critical role.

The status quo, involving manual practices, redundant collection, paper storage, and hours or days of lost productivity by citizens seeking even the most basic interactions with government will not serve Kenya's future goals. Let us hope that a strong legal and regulatory framework will create a solid and sustainable foundation for the critical work that lies ahead.

3. Postal Corporation of Kenya

Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK) in conjunction with the Ministry of Information and Communication of Kenya have a task to diversify its business. This is so especially with the change experienced by the world postal business. The Universal Postal Union recognizes these issues, and has given direction to postal companies to diversify into new offerings such as financial services.

However, PCK has been slow to react to the global market changes and competition to maximize their existing presence in the market. In order to keep the business viable and promote growth, strategic and tactical changes must be implemented within the organization immediately.

PCK should therefore align the organizational structure to new business priorities by establishing an executive level sales management team to focus on new offerings, and implement stricter accountability throughout the organization. It should also seek to add young and energetic talent to organization and include the possibility of a new technology internship program.

Postal Corporation should update its brand perception to address the 'out-of-date' sentiment in the marketplace and also promote newer services. However, 'reliability' and 'trust' are two brand attributes that PCK should leverage in all marketing efforts.

They should also maximize the use of IT within the organization to improve the business, but also facilitate communication with all employees and constituents.

At the end of it all, improved postal and other services will lead to positive results for the Kenyan population. One of the current challenges for the Kenyan population being the need to access government services with long processes and requirements for in-person transactions at government offices will be solved.

As PCK improves existing services and adds new offerings such as financial and government services, it will create improved access, speed and efficiency for Kenyan citizens which will benefit the government as well. To date, there has already been a revolution in mobile banking and billpay services, moreso than in many other developed countries. PCK is in a position to make this even more prevalent, and bring banking services to a place people know and trust their local Posta Kanya branches.

The Kenyan Government's Vision 2030 Roadmap, states, "An efficient, motivated and well-trained public service is expected to be one of the major foundations of the Vision. Additional services, available to more people through the familiar network of Posta Kenya will go a long way to achieve this goal.

Keywords: IT Management  
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