Reflection: Government Responsiveness in The Age of ICTs

By Nasubo Ongoma |

On this post, I will share key insights from our research on Government responsiveness in the Age of ICTs.

In 2013, the Kenyan government started an ambitious plan to digitise public services by adopting ICTs. On paper, the setup is perfect for democracy to be upheld, we read digital strategies and guides that would transform Kenya into a digital nation. Democracy calls for responsiveness from all stakeholders, manifesting in two way communication. Is this the case on all the digital platforms? Ourresearch question was, how has Kenya fared over the years after the adoption of digital tools?

It was key to understand how the two way communication has been enhanced by ICT platforms. The outlookwas not very promising, citizens noted that they were afraid of the new platforms and preferred face to face communication or using intermediaries. Largely because, the one on one contact alleviates their “fear” and questions asked are answered right away. On the other hand, government employees noted that in spite of the platforms, they also lack the technical manpower to navigate them. If this is the case, then who uses these platforms? This question gave us two agendas, 1) why are government systems so difficult to use and 2) how do we bridge the digital divide and bring more citizens into using these platforms themselves?

What we did

1) Demystifying one of the platforms citizens complained about, we used iTax as a case study

2) Carrying out adigital literacy trainingin Kisumu, Nairobi and Mombasa

3) Defining the Internet user and her user journey

4) Finding ways to engage with citizens. Getting the messaging right, social change is brought by having the right message out, our medium was animations. Note: This does not mean that one video will absolutely change the mentality of the people, if the messaging is done consistently, it shall bring a change.

See the video below to the introduction to e-government platforms and a summary of the research.

As the project comes to a close, it is time to think about the next steps, what can we do to bridge the digital gap? What is the next phase of GovTech at the iHub? Interested? Join usfor more details on this next week Thursday, 23rd as we present the report for this project.

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