Saturday, 20 April 2019

Kenya has a long way to go in fully embracing civic engagement

A few weeks ago, I was late to follow a TV discussion on one of the local channels. Or should I say I was not lucky to have known about this particular panel discussion beforehand. Nevertheless, as I touched the dial to that discussion, one statement from a lady I could not place a title on caught my attention. “Public Engagement in Kenya is just getting lip service,” the lady said.
For a moment I thought she had just read my mind. Unfortunately, this was her parting shot on the discussion that had been on for an hour. “Had I just missed the most relevant and intriguing discussion in my professional life?” I murmured.

Yes. Public engagement has been my area of interest for a long time now. My interest spans particularly from my training days at the Kenya National Assembly where I also volunteered for fifteen months. My volunteer service was so gratifying as this was during the transitional phase after the promulgation of the constitution. It was a very optimistic moment for Kenyans that brought a tide of hope around decentralization. There was also an abstract realm around equity, accountability, transparency and bottom up approach in governance especially with the birth of counties.

Kenyans could not hide the enthusiasm during the promulgation ceremony. This was evident from the jubilations, excitements and triumph as the former president flaunted the most special and respectable book in any sovereign state. In all honesty, the book provided part of an ambitious plan for people driven agendas in a very well laid out structure.

Former president of Kenya H.E Mwai Kibaki flaunts the Constitution of Kenya in  2010

Fast forward, nine years down the line, are Kenyans as excited as they were that particular day? Have their aspirations been met? Are the decentralized units producing the anticipated results?  Or have they become the latest breeding grounds for comical corruption stunts from towels meant for dam projects to wheelbarrows worth millions of tax payers money?

Notable progress has just been on paper and even with a number of policy frameworks developed, they are yet to be implemented. The frameworks which are anchored on the Constitution include:

  1.  County Constitutive Act 2012
  2. County Public Participation Guideline 2016
  3. Constituency Development Act 2013
  4. Public Finance Management Act 2012
  5. Urban and Cities Act 2012
  6. Intergovernmental Relations Act 2012
  7. Public Finance Management Regulation Act 2014
  8. Guidelines on Performance Contracting in County Governments
  9. Guidelines on County Integrated Monitoring and Evaluation System. (CIMES)
  10. Hand book on County Performance Management Systems
  11. County Integrated Development Plans (CIDP)
  12. National Capacity Building Framework (NCBF)
  13. Elections Act 2012/17
  14. The African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance
  15.  Reports from respectable both state and non-state actors, among other guiding principles

My resolution based on this analysis is that a number of leaders are not embracing civic engagement. The very citizens that voted for the constitution are not being involved in making critical decisions. Therefore, the are not following the progress being made. In the past month we have witnessed some resistance from citizens in taking up some new government initiatives due to lack of civic education. The National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) popularly known as ‘huduma number’ has seen citizens oppose it as they are unclear on its significance and more so safety of their data. The digital integrated record of citizen data received disapproval from members of the public upon introduction which has seen a considerable number take long to get registered.

In addition, the housing levy has been received as a shocker by many Kenyan citizens given the high living standards and high taxes being experienced. The housing levy is set to have Kenyans get a deduction of 1.5 percent from all employees both in public and private sector beginning May 2019. With one month notice of the levy deduction, this has received sharp criticism from both employers and employees.

These are just a few recent examples on the glaring gaps in civic education in Kenya nine years after the promulgation of the new constitution. Civic engagement allows for diverse perspectives to be discussed on one platform. It should be done prior to making the final decision to allow for acceptability, ownership and sustainability of projects or initiatives by the community.

However, all is not lost as the only grim of hope is that there is one county walking the talk. Makueni county is embracing this model of governance and the outputs are anchored on civic engagements is so evident. Remarkable enough is that the county has in place a public participation in governance bill, 2014.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Technology Incubation centres for youth development

 Hey, it’s been a long time since I did a post. Sorry......... I have been on a very thorough academic journey but now am done looking forward to be given more power to read during my graduation in a few days. However, I have a good lesson to share from the journey. This is about my research project that was focusing on Technology incubation centres for international youth development.

First, I have to recognize and appreciate Hon Isaac Mwaura who yesterday moved the most development relevant youth oriented motion in the recent past - at least according to my analysis. I was very impressed. The motion, which I feel was emphasising on my research project gave me inspiration to write this post. The motion was about 'Creation of an innovation fund and a national incubation system'. But I was a bit saddened though that there were very few members to support this motion in parliament.

The motion seeks to address challenges that afflict Kenyans on a daily basis and in return bring up legislation and administrative measures to support innovations. Of course this is in line with the Kenya Vision 2030 that seeks to make our country an industrialised middle-income economy in the next 14 years. Therefore, the motion advocates for a youth innovation fund and a national incubation system among other measures.

It is my prayer that this motion will pass so as to inform policy to this effect. It is important to understand that economic transformation in Kenya and in Africa at large will only be achieved if more efforts are put in Science, Technology and Innovations (ST&I). Therefore, investing more in education, science and technology, as well as building of the right skills cannot be overemphasized. In many cases, this has been lacking in the development process, thus creating a mismatch in available opportunities and the skills from the higher education sector.

Graduates’ skills and knowledge need to be matched up with the growing economic opportunities so that they can be of impact to the development of African countries. Ghana and South Korea who had similar GDP in 1957 are a classical case of how Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) can help transform a country. The difference between countries that have utilized STI for development seem to lie in the presence of evidence-informed policy on STI and commitment in implementing the policy.

In this regard, governments need to be committed to inclusivity through involvement of the youth and women who have often been marginalized.  This can only happen if the government commits to strengthening the legal, policy and institutional framework for technology incubation centres. 
With this in mind, there is need to introduce policies that address technology incubation centres directly and ensure that the funding element is well addressed while promoting international set standards and sound practices. The lack of funding too needs to be addressed as this affects the sustainability of the start-ups and they end up as dreams that cannot be actualized into real enterprises. 

In addition, the Kenyan government needs to give more direct support for the technology incubation centres as they are recognised as one of the contributors of achieving the vision 2030 goals. The Kenya vision 2030 policy document has five-year medium-term plans MTP 1 (2008-2012) and MTP 2 (2013-2018) that provide roadmaps towards its success. Under this plans, various institutions both private and public are tasked with the implementation of various operations and set up of technology incubation centres in Kenya. Kenya has also ratified to international conventions, declarations and protocols that are geared towards the modeling of the technology incubation centres into centres of excellence and economic development. 

However, in all these forward looking plans there are no direct plans on how technology incubation centres are supported and there are some roadblocks encountered in the implementation of these policy, legal and institutional frameworks. 

Thank you

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Learn how to shorten links

Have you ever wanted to share an online story on your social media page or account but the link to the story is too long that it restricts you from putting your comment? This happens a lot especially on twitter, right? You don't need to worry anymore because am about to share with you a little secret on how to shorten your links. Its a magical experience, trust me.

This can be done from a site known as Bitly which offers URL shortening services.

Step 1: Copy your link from the URL address bar

Step 2:  Open the Bitly site on and scroll down to this point

Step 3: Paste your link under 'Paste a link to shorten it'

Step 4 : Click on the SHORTEN button and voila! you get your bitlink.

Step 5: Copy the short link from the copy button next to it and paste it on your preferred site; facebook,twitter,linkedin e.t.c together with your comment.

Now, lets easily share stories online.

Visit this blog in a few days time and learn how to subscribe to RSS feeds without flooding your email.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Realizing my technology stewardship potential

There is that moment in life when you are in dire need to gain some knowledge that can be life changing not just to you but to the community at large. At one point in life, you may imagine that the knowledge is inaccessible, expensive or too complex for you. However, the opportunity may be so close to you. All you is to grab it and see the bigger picture.

This just happened to me like a few seconds ago -true i mean it, life can change in a second- its not a fallacy. web2.0 learning opportunity has been an eye opener to me. This is how it happened - there is no science fiction here- ( chuckles) just critical thinking. As a communication professional social networking and use of internet based tools is inevitable. The two have to go hand in hand for one to record success. Ever since I started my career after graduating from campus with a Degree in Communication and PR, this has been evident. The only challenge has been how to utilize all these tools effectively, but now am well equipped with this knowledge. Call me a communication expert, PR specialist, social media guru, professional, name them ........ ohh yeah.

Being a technology steward is easy and not rocket science as I had imagined or as you may imagine, it just calls for practice on how to scan, select, install, configure and support use of social media and web 2. 0 tools like; youtube, facebook, twitter, flickr, google+, picasa, blogs, dropbox, google drive, delicious, wikieducator, linkedin e.t.c. Of course not forgetting to help others use them according to their working needs and social structures and ensuring that their needs are met.

The process is systematic and starts with assessing their needs, evaluating their potential technology and selecting the most appropriate tool.  When selecting the tools choose between hosted ( cloud computing) versus installed tools. There is also the localized hosted tools, multiple social media tools, hosted tools, installed software and installed software licences. Always put into consideration the right software either hosted or installed and finally configuring and supporting the community on how to use the tools. The tools should be affordable, adaptable and should offer the functionalities needed. It is that simple?, you must be wondering..... sure it's that simple. Finally you need to practice, practice, practice and you will make the internet your good friend.

Come on, join me, lets make life easy by using social media tools for development. My dad once told me that knowledge is the only thing that cannot be stolen in this world, once you have it, it's yours forever, and sharing it makes you more knowledgeable. I still hold on to these words till date.