So after five years, Kenya ICT Board CEO Paul Kukubo is leaving and Taking over as the head of the East Africa Commodities Exchange according to Wanjiku.co.ke. This will signal a big change at ICT Board given the fact that the term of Dr. Bitange Ndemo is coming to an end after the election . The new constitution will usher in a different structure of the Government, meaning all the current Permanent Secretaries will wait for the next Government to know their fate in the new structure. I know many people would like to see Dr. Bitange Ndemo back at the ICT docket in some capacity, regardless of who wins the next election but that is a story for another day.
Also leaving ICT Board is Victor Kyalo, the Deputy CEO at the board. He set to go back to teaching at the University of Nairobi.
I have to say that Mr. Kukubo’s tenure at ICT Board has been a mix bag.. Some success and some failures. On the success side:
Open Data: Back in 2011 the Government launched Open Data initiative, making key government data available to the public through one online portal. For the first time information about the National expenditure, the national census data, the Poverty index from different counties and constituencies among the datasets made available for the Public and especially developers. Since then, there have been some challenges as articulated by one only Open Data champion I know In Kenya Ms. Linet Kwamboka (@g33kmate) here ….but on overall, that was a great step taken by Government, spearheaded by ICT Board.
Wezesha Laptops for College students: This was a very popular initiative among the University and college students. The search for the information and the rush to buy the laptops under the initiative back then was a clear indication of how popular it was. I am always not surprised when even up to now people still make comments on this blog asking if the Government will have the same initiative again anytime soon.
Chipuka Certification: Is credentialing examination created by the Kenya ICT Board and Carnegie Mellon University that is meant to help employers identify software developers with the skills necessary to step into jobs immediately. I have my misgivings about the project but at the moment it is a work in progress.
Kenya ICT Master Plan: This was launched just a few days ago. Kenya’s ICT Master Plan aspires to position Kenya as a regional leader in ICT while delivering the latest and most robust infrastructure. In the Core of the plan are Digital Inclusion, ICT Innovation and Access Beyond Broadband. Mr. Paul Kukubo has been the Project Lead
Konza City: Well, this might turn out to be a white elephant as I had indicated on this Post but it is one of the most ambitious projects launched under Kukubo at ICT Board. I hope things work out well on this and Kenya get its real ICT City in the next five years or so.
BPOs: On the initial stages the board’s focus was to position Kenya as the leading BPOs destination. At the time it sounded great but there were a number of flaws about it. BPOs depended on the foreign companies mostly from US and Europe but the dawn of Financial crisis in the West affected the whole plan. Now it is the most risky and unreliable business to be in. Simply put BPOs project failed and I find it funny to still see it listed as among the drivers of the Konza City project
Tandaa: There are some great sides or stories about Tandaa grants, but up to now I can not pinpoint any success story about it. I think it is a great initiative but it needs improved selection process and introduction of some kind of monitoring team to ensure that the grantees use the money for the projects they indicated during the application process.
Unnecessary Trips to Singapore, India and Other Places: When I attended connected Kenya last year I was amazed at how many trips Kenyan Government officials make to other Countries like Singapore to learn from them. The funny thing is , the same officials kept on telling us how Singapore adopted their growth plan from Kenya.. I have been asking myself that if it is true that the Singapore adopted the plan borrowed from Kenya, why can’t the Government Officials just go to the archive and dust up that plan and use it instead of wasting money to Singapore. One of the Permanent Secretaries Ms. Dorothy N. Angote, publicly stated that she would go mental if there was another trip to Singapore. Unfortunately, since then there have been many more trips, including a trip to India recently.
Do it In Kenya Campaign : My post on the Kenya Government not believing in “do it in Kenya” here. is still fresh..