Sunday, 04 October 2020 11:56

COG - SENATE ICT COMMITTEE CONSULTATIVE MEETING

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The Council of Governors committee on Information and Technology on 29th September appeared before the Senate Standing committee on ICT for a consultative meeting on several issues in the ICT sector at the County Level.

Speaking during the virtual meeting, H.E Governor Ndiritu Muriithi – a member of the ICT committee told the senate of the important role that ICT has played in the Counties and especially during the COVID19 period. “ICT is a backbone for our day to day business and has helped us (County Governments) to continue offering services to the people despite the restrictions on gatherings and physical meetings due to the ongoing pandemic. It is because of ICT that we are able to meet here today,” said the Laikipia Governor.

Governor Ndiritu also reiterated the importance of data use for decision making in the Counties. However, data collected and available in the Counties today may sometimes not be very dependable for decision making due to the fact that Kenya National Bureau of Statistics is still a Nairobi based institution. In his remarks, he proposed that KNBS presence in the Counties needs to be improved and the data available need to be ICT based for easier interpretation and consumption.

Through the Ministry of ICT, the National Government has laid the National Optic Fibre Backbone (NOFBI) throughout the 47 Counties. The NOFBI project was aimed at ensuring connectivity in all the 47 counties of Kenya. The implementation of the project aims to ease communication across counties as well as improve government service delivery to the citizens. Phase 1 of the project was completed in 2009 and established a National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure with access points in most of the district headquarters and some border towns.

To this end, the NOFBI project has reached the 47 Counties, however, some Counties are still experiencing challenges with the project including connectivity and damaged infrastructure. The Senate Committee meeting was aimed at identifying the challenges faced by individual County Governments and design interventions that would ensure that the National backbone is put into good use. Further, through the meeting, the Council of Governors briefed Senator Gideon Moi who is also the chair of the Senate committee on the County ICT interventions during the COVID 19 period. County interventions during this period have ensured that the Counties Governments continue to run during the COVID19 period.

While making his submission on behalf of the Council of Governors, Governor Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o outlined the many interventions made by County Governments during the COVID 19 period as well as the gaps that need to be addressed. “As County Governments we moved fast to ensure that services were still being offered to residents. All County Governments have set up County hotline numbers for reporting and contact tracing of COVID patients. We are leveraging bulk SMS and social media as well as electronic media platforms to share critical information with the people,” Said the Kisumu County boss. “However, we still have a myriad of challenges that are making us not to fully depend on ICT based solutions in our day to day activities and running of County Governments.

These challenges include, lack of proper legislation, lack of capacity and training among staff among others,” added Governor Nyong’o. In his proposal to cure the existing gaps on ICT at the Counties, H.E Pro. Anyang’ Nyongo has proposed to the Senate Committee the consideration to devolve the ICT Authority that will ensure availability of relevant ICT skills and personnel in every County. This will boost the County skill set and development of ICT solutions that can be used in revenue collection, data collection and management as well as capacity building on ICT at the County level.

The Senate Standing committee is expected to communicate to the Council of Governors on the way forward, complete with an intervention work plan in a week’s time.

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