Starting tomorrow, I will take a break from Social Media.
It has been a great year, one that has taught me a lot and basically switched on the lights on what bureaucracy is.
I will sum up 2014 in point form;
- Nakuru WiFi
After lots of hard work, sacrifice and partnerships, it is extremely satisfying to finally say we have gotten it right.
The Presidential Strategic Communications Unit – Digital together with the County Government of Nakuru and the great team at Liquid Telekom and InfoNet has done tests for the last two months and the results show that we are finally on course and ready to switch on the free Internet at 150MB for the residents of Nakuru town.
The project that will go live after the festive season and whose speeds can be tested around the Governor’s office where the main tests have been beaming from has taught the department a lot of things – They are best captured in a book.
However, we thank the Governor and our partners for standing by us even as we continued to believe that the project was viable and could be done.
The fact that we did not ask for any budgets from Government to implement the project and instead mobilized partners to put up a proof of Concept at their cost was a major triumph.
Had all the four institutions charged the Government for the cost of their voluntary contribution – Skill, equipment, labour and technology including data – the project would have cost 200m and recurrent costs thereafter.
But together we sought equipment, got great volunteers to help us connect and Liquid Telekom is writing off the cost of data. The County Government of Nakuru has assured of security for equipment and training of residents interested in use of public Wifi.
Infonet has since contributed computers for an Impact Centre that will be the central place where residents can learn more about effective use of internet and even have a chance to access the Free WiFi from a central room.
Just one final thing, the greatest lesson about the project is that we have lived the phrase that we should never be afraid of making mistakes and that it is when they are made that we learn a lot more and gain invaluable lessons on project research, design, implementation and deployment, our encouragement to everyone trying something radically new, as informed by experience is deeply simple – Keep Focused, mistakes are just benchmarks that you are on the right path and do not let the jeering distract you, sift the constructive information from the heckling, You will get to the destination.
- Anti-Corruption Portal
This has been one of the most challenging projects. Kenyans have kept the faith, forwarded material, video clips and audio.
The President takes the Anti-Corruption Portal very seriously, it is actually integrated into a screen sitting in his office and as soon as a report gets in on the online backend it also lands as a word or excel document in his office.
We have not done so well on the investigation and reporting end, that is because we have taken more time perfecting the technology and we are now absolutely confident and a few steps will follow early 2015.
- a) Sign an effective collaboration agreement with The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) – so as to move from the informal arrangement that currently exists.
- b) Negotiate and possibly get into an agreement with Antony Ragui, the great Kenyan Citizen behind I Paid a bribe portal to see how the aspect of reporting corruption and admission of corruption can be used anonymously to act on the vice
- c) Introduce a PSCU-Digital Bi-Monthly reporting on activity and investigations so as to encourage reporting and also deter corruption both in private and public sector.
- Sauti Yetu
One of our best moments this year was the establishment of an Android Application that also uses Sms to capture complaints in rural and urban Kenya.
The App which we have dubbed – Sauti Yetu, is mapped into constituencies and Counties – phase two will bring on wards and even villages
It is then divided into categories of complaints ranging from water to crime.
- Government Websites
This is an area I must admit we have failed. We have Government websites that are only comparable to the cover page of ‘Hello Children’ that great and famous book that was the guidebook as we learnt English in Lower Primary.
We have developed very poor websites. Kenya has great talent on website construction, but that unfortunately is not reflected on public websites.
Yes am criticizing the entire digital infrastructure in government , websites are the simplest yet we have failed on that front unfortunately for over 10 years now.
Why should a Ministry of Health website tell us about Mission and Vision of the ministry instead of what to do in case Polio strikes. The hospitals with dialysis machines
Why would a Ministry of Energu website tell us Vision and mission instead of showing us where Oil is being struck, where wind power is adding Megawatts, how Gas is going to affect prices etc
Our websites appear like large policy papers as opposed to functional interactive offices with ability to perform multiple jobs.
Government Social media is now clearly adopting to the philosophy of institutional and personal accounts.
Innovations should not just be showy idealism. The United Nations and African Union has listened and agreed with us on that front.
To start with PSCU-digital held a two day conference and a Youth Innovation Camp at Safari park Hotel that brought together innovators from the continent.
The idea is to turn innovations to breakthroughs.
During the Public Service day in 2015, the success of the expert meeting will be showcased as the World, impressed by our innovations will be coming to Nairobi.
Beyond that PSCU Digital and other partners will begin setting up Public Service Innovation Labs, so as to help those in Public service with will power to fight red tape through digital means to develop them to functional solutions.
One of the biggest successes of the department was to launch and host the GOK Interacts forums that has seen Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Energy and the Deputy President field questions from bloggers.
Beyond the questions GOK Interacts follows up every issue raised and publishes a full record of interactions at www.president.go.ke
A lot more can be done in the digital field and we have barely scratched the surface
For instance we intend to have a monthly bloggers conference where we will sit and take criticism from bloggers randomly selected every month.
Presidential platforms need to move from just reporting spaces to interactive ones and more importantly a digital address by top leadership is something we are yet to action.
There are several challenges and ideas as we march forward and we remain committed.
Thank You social media for disagreeing with us, telling us off when you did, patting our backs at times and most importantly for engaging us…we appreciate.
As you start your festive season, be certain that our focus is still to make it easier to access Government and to interact with it.
We have the intention but we claim no monopoly to ideas and that is why for a start we have started an ideas portal at the President’s website…www.president.go.ke.
God Bless each of you, have a great Christmas and a triumphant 2015.