The Jubilee Coalition’s manifesto is set upon three pillars, namely unity, economy and openness. Though the role of technology is highlighted in various parts of the 70-page manifesto, it is among the core sectors in the second pillar with emphasis on ICT as a facilitator for the digital takeoff in Kenya.
Under the ICT sector, the manifesto highlights the country’s achievements over the past decade, such as access to mobile phones for the adult population, mobile money transfer, landing of the submarine fibre-optic cables and enactment of the relevant laws.
The document looks at ICT from a three-dimensional perspective: challenges, opportunities and solutions. Under the challenges, it notes that the biggest challenge will be to drive the country forward to become Africa’s high-tech capital and the realization of the “Silicon Savannah”.
On the way forward, the manifesto recognises the important role ICT can play in the country’s economy, with focus on Konza Techno City, launched last month by President Mwai Kibaki.
On opportunities that can be actualised through investment in ICT, the manifesto emphasises the need to use technology to add value to various sectors of the economy, including in education, health, agriculture, business and finance, governance and leadership.
According to the manifesto, the biggest opportunity lies in developing a skilled human resource.
“Our biggest opportunity comes from developing our human resource capacity through proper education courses to not only match, but surpass the needs of business and government and even export our local resource,” it stated.
Under solutions, the manifesto points to inducing skills through the educational system, establishment of a universal single registration system and expanding the fibre-optic network.
Other solutions include the creation of ICT startup hubs through the new Biashara Kenya agency, instigation of a “buy Kenyan” policy by the government and its agencies on ICT products, as well as automation and rollout of the IFMS by government across all institutions.
These solutions, the coalition says, will weed out corruption, increase efficiency and create jobs for the youth.
Other areas that the manifesto touches on include the increased installation of CCTV cameras to tackle insecurity and introduction of bolus technology to deal with cattle rustling and livestock theft among Kenya’s pastoralist communities. In health, the manifesto seeks to promote e-health as a method of reaching more rural and remote areas with health services.
Though the document touches on a host of sectors, technology is missing from a number of areas.
Notably, ICT is left out in key sectors such as tourism, where digital advertising would work wonders. ICT is also lacking under the pillar of unity, despite social media as well as television and radio having a pivotal role to play in enhancing national cohesion.
Under education, despite the manifesto establishing that the greatest opportunity is in creating the necessary human resources, it fails to mention ways of modernising teaching and learning methods through the provision of tablets and laptops to students and teachers.
The important role of ICT is also missing from the agriculture and environmental sector despite studies indicating that the use of technology can lower the carbon footprint in many sectors.
Generally, the manifesto tends to focus more on ICT compared to othermanifestos reviewed by HumanIPO.
Notable, the manifesto set aside space for ICT development, challenges and opportunities, an aspect that has been missing in many similar documents.
By rating, the manifesto is ICT-friendly, although more comfort would be conditioned by how the policies would be implemented.