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Has Kenya’s ICT revolution triggered more citizen participation?

Nyambura Salome

Publisher: Making All Voices Count

2016

This research briefing is one of four which turn the spotlight on how the state behaves in instances of accountable governance. Each examines a landmark social justice policy process in Africa, asking when and how the state listened, and to which actors; and why, at times, it chose not to listen.

How far does Kenya’s information and communications technology revolution transform e-government – implementing decisions with the help of ICTs – into e-governance – using ICTs to help make decisions? Case study research interviewed young people in Nairobi, the hub of most of Kenya’s ICT initiatives, and found that most respondents were not aware of the government’s efforts to provide online services and that two thirds had not accessed them. They also said that their engagement with their leaders through e-platforms was minimal. Interviews with politicians found that in their view, citizens were using e-platforms only to complain, or request assistance. There was not a strong interest in citizens’ voices among the politicians and bureaucrats interviewed .

The findings suggest that the government needs to focus on ensuring parallel progress in the three pillars of Vision 2030. Few people know about the e-government platforms that do exist, and many do not have the skills needed to use the public services that are provided online. Policies that enable the inclusion of the majority without ICT skills are imperative.

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