Shared Technology Opportunities in Kenya Government

One of the platforms that the Kenya ICT Board is spearheading a shared services platform/master plan for the Government.

They have studied the concept in the US, Australia and at large computer companies. They also appointed a consultant firm, Accenture, to carry out an assessment, and this week Accenture released a report this week on shared services (back-office functions) use at various government levels.

The findings were rather harsh and included:

  •  GoK is not well-positioned to support Vision 2030 through its platform, and for all the talk, IT spending is not a priority in government.
  • Low level of staff, low ability to execute projects.
  • Lack of standard process automation across government arms, few processes are automated – still heavy manual work, and use of outdated technology.
  • Kenya spends 70% of IT funds on hardware (which can go out of date quite fast), with very little spent on people and software. This is below world standard which Accenture defined as near – 20% spent on hardware, 40% people, 19% software, and 20% outsourcing.
  • Most IT projects are developed with silos within the different ministries or local authorities even within ministries and even if the current 80 large ongoing tech projects were completed, this would not lead to share services, e.g. because databases cannot talk to each other

Nevertheless, Accenture had bright spots & recommendations:

  • The low-level little process automation presents a lot of opportunity for the private sector to work with GoK in shared services.
  • Best practices can be driven by a single entity.
  • The shared service goals can be achieved not by increasing current IT expenditure, but by refocusing it on items like automation and standardization.
  • By developing IT career paths, the Government can have access to the better people in IT.
  • Accenture mapped out some current government process like obtaining a birth certificate and getting a passport – to the deal target scenario using shared services approach.
  • The cloud can be used to leapfrog other governments – i.e. enable citizens to use mobile phone and access services without visiting a government office.
  • There are other opportunities for the private sector to develop end user services, applications, architecture, and capabilities.

Other Comments

  • Information & Communications PS Bitange Ndemo said they had set out to fulfil a Presidential target to digitize four processes by this June 2011 – and mentioned the judiciary, land ministry and state law office (also Google Books has digitally archived the Government Bible – with 100 years of the Kenya Gazette now online)
  • Office of the President Administrative Secretary Sam Mwale it is government policy to share services and asked that more services be translated to Kiswahili which is understood by the majority of Kenyans. He also said that for shared services to work, it was important to demonstrate to government staff that the services work, that they are in charge and they have not lost their jobs.
  • Catherine Gitau, the Director of E-Government, said government departments will have to share infrastructure, services, and must also share data (Article 35 of the new Kenya Constitution notes that the state shall publish and publicize any important information affecting the nation, and every citizen has the right to information held by the state)