Public Participation, Democracy and the National ICT Policy 2016

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The draft National ICT Policy 2016 is anchored in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and Vision 2030. It envisions Kenya as an information and knowledge hub for the region while drawing lessons from the preceding National ICT Policy 2006 and the implementation of the Vision 2030 Medium Term Frameworks. It seeks to deliver on the Pillars of Vision 2030; namely, the Economic pillar, the Social pillar and the Political pillar while appreciating the effects of globalisation and the rapid change in technology on the “management of public affairs and service delivery“. It seeks to facilitate access to ICT and fulfill the social, economic, cultural and political transformation aspirations of Vision 2030. This review shows that the political pillar is not adequately addressed and that the foreword focuses on access to broadband, an ICT-enabled industrial system, a strategy for big data and addressing cyber security while omitting the critical challenge of “how to harness ICT for efficient and effective government, economic growth and job creation for the youth“.

This submission seeks to highlight the Political pillar of Vision 2030 as well as the public participation and democratic governance aspirations of the Constitution within the National ICT Policy 2016. The Political pillar of Vision 2030 envisions “a democratic political system that is issue-based, people-centered, result-oriented and accountable to the public”. Further, article 174 on the Objects of Devolution under Chapter 11 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 states that one objective is “to give powers of self-governance to the people and enhance the participation of the people in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them“.

The National ICT Policy can deliver on the Constitutional and Vision 2030 objectives of self-governance and a people-centred, issue-based, result-oriented and accountable democracy in ways suggested hereafter. Specific proposals have been highlighted for inclusion within the text of the draft National ICT Policy 2016 that will be the subject of discussion at the Stakeholders Consultative Forum on the National ICT Policy on 17th August 2016 at Laico Regency starting at 8.00am.

 

ICT, DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE AND THE CONSTITUTION
A major change brought about by the 2010 Constitution was the concept of “self governance” by the people through devolution; where public participation was identified as a mandatory component in every development or governance process. As a result, County government lawmakers are already seeking to mandate the use of ICTs in achieving public participation in governance and monitoring service delivery. Therefore, the draft National ICT Policy 2016 needs to guide the achievement of self-governance through citizen participation in governance and in enhancing transparency and accountability in service delivery. These are major policy challenges under the 2010 Constitution and Vision 2030 that, if addressed, would deliver the democratic reforms envisioned particularly under the political pillar.

According to Vision 2030, transformation within Kenya’s political governance system is expected to take place across six strategic initiatives, whose overarching visions, goals and specific strategies are as follows:

1. Rule of law
2. Electoral & political processes
3. Democracy and public service delivery
4. Transparency and accountability
5. Security, peace building and conflict management

The guiding principles for the Political Pillar are specified as Constitutional supremacy, Sovereignty of the people and Equality of citizens. It is therefore worth noting that the Guiding Principles of the National ICT Policy under [4.3.1 Constitutional Principles and Values] state that the ICT policy shall “Uphold the Constitution of Kenya, respect essential values of human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and rule of law”.

Appreciating that the National ICT Policy 2016 recognizes the United Nations Sustaible Development Goals (SDGs) [under 4.3.11 Recognition of the UN SDGs] with an emphasis on accountability and the Agenda 2063 [under 4.3.12 Agenda 2063], this submission further seeks to highlight ASPIRATION 3 of Agenda 2063 that proposes “An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law”.

Further noting that a key challenge of ICT Policy under [4.5 CHALLENGES] is “(b) How to harness [ICT for efficient and effective government], economic growth and job creation for the youth“, we propose policy solutions to ensure ICT for efficient and effective government.

Therefore, we propose the following changes to the text of the National ICT Policy 2016:

4.3.9 Public Consultation and Participation
Facilitate public consultation and participation when implementing national ICT-related projects with a significant societal, citizen and business impact [and promote the use of ICT to facilitate democratic governance, public participation for policy development and monitoring of service delivery in all sectors].

4.6 Overarching Policy Objectives

The main policy objective for the government is to ensure that service delivery [and accountability] to the public is fully supported by high-quality ICT infrastructure.

4.7 Broad Strategies

(h) Promote eGovernment at all levels of government and encourage the use of ICT to facilitate democratic governance, public participation for policy development and monitoring of service delivery in all sectors.

23 E-GOVERNMENT

23.1 Introduction

(f) Promote the use of ICT such as Citizen Relationship Management systems to facilitate citizen initiated reporting, public participation in policy development, democratic governance and monitoring of service delivery at all levels of government.

23.2 E-Government Applications:

(f) Promote the integration between citizen-initiated reporting and participation channels with government systems for public participation in reporting service delivery issues, budget process, policy formulation, accountability and transparency.

27.2.2 County Governments
The role of county governments is to:
[ Apply ICT systems to promote people-centred governance and accountability in service delivery]

Finally, we note that under 27.2.12 on Consumers and Users, a commitment to uphold the Constitution has been explicitly stated as “The Government will support consumer protection efforts in accordance with Section 46 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010.” It is therefore that the proposals above shall be adopted in the final National ICT Policy to address the political pillar of Vision 2030, promote democratic governance, public participation, transparency and accountability in service delivery addressing the challenge of How to harness ICT for efficient and effective government.

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