Kenyans in Diaspora interact with the Presidency in real time using smartphones? Interesting times.

Dennis Itumbi
Dennis Itumbi, the Director of Digital Communication in the Office of the President of Kenya (in a red tie) during the Digital Summit Fair held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) in Nairobi.

At 3am, a Kenyan is busy typing on his phone, updating his status on facebook or sending out a tweet and then quickly switches to whatsapp to continue in a heated conversation in a group formed by friends. He briefly places his handset under the pillow and pulls the blankets up, only to grab the handset again after an alert tone interrupts his zzzz, and he is up again to read what another friend has written to him.


Little does this Kenyan youth know that he is part of a techno thirsty and savvy connected group of people in the world that is growing, and the Kenya Presidency clearly knowing this, and the power of information technology has adopted a strategy to make sure Kenyans living in the country and abroad can interact with government in real-time using their smartphones.


“The government, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, has platforms where the government can connect with people in the digital space, and not only talk to the president but share ideas that they think can change government towards better digital access, innovation and inventions,” said Dennis Itumbi, the Director of Digital Communication in the Office of the President.


Mr Itumbi said the government of Kenya received 3, 500 corruption reports through the online platform Presidential Strategic Communication Unit, @PSCU_Digital. Through the same platform, @PSCU_Digital, the presidency received requests for a meeting with the president, and six appointments were scheduled.


“So far, we have scheduled six appointments with the president following requests received through the PSCU_Digital platform,” he said.


During a Digital Summit Fair held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Mr Itumbi engaged Kenyans in a talk on the new media government/the Presidency was using in communicating and sharing ideas.


He said the current generation were a borderless people, who communicate with people in the US, Britain, Australia, Germany, China and Mexico among other countries at the click of a button, anytime of the day and night.


Another conversation method adopted by government was the use of the Whatsapp APP. Mr Itumbi said, “The government has a Whatsapp contact number and they will be hiring people to handle it soon.”


The government would also prepare the youth early on to handle technology for growth and development.


Government would reach students in high schools through supporting the famed Science Congress, to encourage and promote development of innovations at an early age, innovations that would offer solution in government service delivery.


(Science Congress is an annual meeting of top scoring secondary and high school students, who engage in a competition to gauge their knowledge in mathematics and sciences through theory and practical tests, and showcasing inventions/innovations.)


Mr Itumbi encouraged Kenyans to spend their time wisely, creating digital solutions. He welcomed criticism, and encouraged critics to move from the old template of just stating problems and begin offering solutions.


He pointed out to one aspect on registration of persons in Kenya, which he termed as baffling, saying it was illogical for a Kenyan to wait 18 years to get an identification (ID) card.


He instead asked techies to come up with an APP that solves this ‘problem’.


“At birth, a baby gets a birth certificate and waits 18 years later to get an ID or passport. Why not develop an APP that automatically tells government that so and so is now 18 years old and an adult, while another died at a this age?”


“Such forward thinking technological solutions are what we need for Kenya to move forward and compete globally with other countries,” he said.


A money transfer service, MPesa, was a Kenyan innovation adopted by other countries and, which marketed Kenya as an innovative country.



Some of the tweets statements by Itumbi from the DIGITAL SUMMIT FAIR


Digital Fair @DigitalfairEA

If you want to fight bureaucracy in the government of Kenya utilise our Digital Platforms-@OleItumbi #DigitalMarketingEA


We are a borderless generation @OleItumbi


Kachwanya ‏@kachwanya

Govt will have #firesidechats starting the end of April according to @OleItumbi #DigitalMarketingEA


“Those of us at the presidency dont have a monopoly of ideas” [email protected]


The government has a Whatsapp contact number and they will be hiring people to handle it soon. #DigitalmarketingEA @OleItumbi


“Stop always tweeting negativity and what is wrong, start creating solutions” – @OleItumbi


Khanir Brian ‏@KhanirBrian

“Presidency digital dpt to support high schools science congress to promote innovation at school level”


E- citizen and internship portal coming soon @OleItumbi


“Government to support an intiative that seeks to offer digital solutions for the public” – @OleItumbi


There is Free Wifi in Kenya, Free Websites for Counties in Kenya, utilize them- @OleItumbi

By Anne Kanina-Diaspora Messenger contributor

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