ICT Authority to have a desk for ICT related work permits

For the last year or so, the immigration officials have been camping at “tech start up” hotspots, seeking to weed out illegal workers or in other words those with no work permits.

This has been frustrating to “expats” who have maintained that Kenya has no tech capacity etc. I am sure you have read stories of how people can not find appropriate hardware such as key boards, mouse, etc in Kenya.

It seems Fred Matiangi, Info Comm Cabinet Secretary will give the expats a reprieve in the work permit application process.

Since Jane Waikenda took over at Nyayo house, she had a policy of employing stringent measures especially in areas where such capacity is available locally. This didn’t go down well for some ICT companies bringing in unemployed westerners in droves as “expats”. Some have argued that they would move their corporate headquarters to South Sudan or ¬†Congo, just to protest, well, maybe Tanzania or South Africa.

Anyway, Matiangi says he has had discussions with his interior ministry CS and now ICT work permit applications will be treated differently. The ICTA will participate in the process and there will be a desk where the applicants can be helped.

This helps in the transfer of skills ūüôā

East Africa Ministers stay in the hotel whole day

Government Ministers from Rwanda and Uganda were forced to stay in their hotel rooms after Fred Matiangi, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication failed to turn up for the first day of Connected Kenya Summit.

Matiangi was meant to open the first day of Connected Kenya and launch the ICT Masterplan (revamped) but he was apparently/allegedly held up in meetings with the president and could not make it for the first day. Word is that he will arrive later tonight, to participate in the second day.

The minsters/reps from East Africa could not participate in the conference because protocol demands that if you visit a country in official government capacity, then your host must be there to receive you. If not, it would break protocol or raise an international incident.

It would be nice to hear stories of how Uganda and Rwanda have implemented the digital companies registry. Kenya is yet to get there.

Let us see if they turn up tomorrow….

ICT Authority Board Meant to Cure old conflict issues

In January, Fred Matiang’i, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication inaugurated a new ICT Authority Board.


He appointed:

  1. Prof Timothy Waema

  2. Ms Esther Kibeere

  3. Ms Bertha Dena

  4. Prof Elijah Omwenga

  5. Mr David Mugo

  6. Mr Ugas Mohamed

My knee jerk reaction was that the CS had given a salute to the private sector and civil society “noise makers”. You see, one can give a salute with the whole hand or fold some fingers, if you get the drift. Either way, the private sector and civil society was largely missing, as the board became more academic and political; the chair is Edwin Yinda, a former member of parliament.

As I was thinking why the private sector and civil society was dissed like that, I recalled the earlier days of how the ICT Board was dominated by private sector and slowly people started speaking out against the apparent conflicts of interest.

The major and saddest incident is well documented in this 2008 story where Peter Kimacia quit as a board member.  He had his own version of the ICT Villages and the board had to change its project to Pasha centres, to deal with the ensuing confusion. I think the whole digital villages project was doomed from this point and it never recovered. Peter also never seemed to go far with his ICT villages project, that seemed to have the support of the ICT sector. Read what some Kictanet members said about it.

Then there was the incident where the board sponsored an event led by Kevit Desai, another board member.  You can read more about it here.

I think with this board, the CS was probably more careful, opting to go with Ugas Mohamed,  the CEO of FON, the fiber provider that is yet to get traction in the market.

By filling the board with academia and safe bets, does it make it better for the private sector to do business? Well, that will only remain to be seen.

Is it better to have established and industry folks running ICT policy affairs? The opinions are divided.

Are people in the ICT sector expecting drastic transformation and implementation of the roadmaps, walk paths, eating trajectory, vision 2030 or any other papers that are gathering dust? I don’t think so.

I think the board now has an opportunity to surprise the majority.


Ndemo to advise Kenyan president on ICT

After the General Elections this year, there was much anticipation regarding the ICT docket; some wondered whether the Bitange Ndemo, former Permanent Secretary in Info Comm would become the new Cabinet Secretary or he would continue his role as PS. Others thought he would go to the education ministry to implement the laptop project.

There are others who felt that there was need for new blood, that the ICT sector could benefit from someone with new ideas and momentum. Others felt that Ndemo already had his people and a new person would help with new alliances. Well, the alliances part has veterans, who support AGIP- Any Government In Power, so, whoever comes, they quickly line behind them.

After much politicking, it was clear that Ndemo was out and in was Fred Matiangi as the CS and another person was PS, where is this guy anyway? Depending on which side you were, there were tributes and jubilations.

Immediately after leaving, Ndemo got appointment to several places, most notable at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) among others. I guess it meant he had something to contribute.




After several months, the president, deputy, his hangers on and advisors must have realised that they made a mistake by just letting the guy go. He was appointed as the ICT advisor. I am not sure who is senior between him and the CS but I think the government must have realized they need him somewhere.

“My role is short term leading a project on Police automation starting with¬†activation of 999 and 112 which are operational now. ¬†We have also¬†developed a citizen engagement portal that will help the police to receive¬†information from the public on incidents and any other matter relating to¬†public security,” Ndemo said.

I am one of those hoping that the automation process will go well and that this year’s connected gov summit will have new practical materials to discuss and not just theories and disconnected stuff.

So, does he think he will have any impact?

“This will greatly contribute to ICT sector. ¬†For a starter, the 24 hour¬†call center has 60 agents using art of state CRM software. ¬†Leveraging on¬†the technology will enhance service delivery and secure our people. ¬†We¬†shall build data analytic capabilities within the country. ¬†As you know we¬†have so much data but until we convert it into information, it will never¬†help us in decision making,” he added.

It may be a short term project but in the end, maybe the government can automate, one department at a time. We want to see results ūüôā


What Matiangi can learn from Ndemo

When it became obvious that Bitange Ndemo would not be taking over as the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, the ICT community wondered who would wear the giant shoes left by Ndemo.

To calm the nerves and prepare for his exit, Ndemo wrote to the ICT industry and you can read it here.

So much has been said about Ndemo, both positive and negative but the thing I am most happy about is his easy approach; want to see him, drop him an email, get an appointment at 6 am or earlier. Want to interview him, drop the questions on email, and for some reason I would have answers in 24 hours, on email. No reminder, he will do it.

To understand better why I am not just praising the former PS, just read this post I did for Capital website  in 2008

From Ndemo’s introduction of Matiangi, you can see he tries to be cordial and act like they are friends. In reality, they are not and I am told Matiangi hates it when someone tries to refer to something Ndemo did, he just doesn’t like the guy. I remember during Connected Kenya this year, there was an event organised to honor Ndemo and Poghisio for their contribution to the ICT sector. Matiangi refused to attend. The PR story was that he was meeting the governor of Mombasa etc