In January, Fred Matiang’i, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication inaugurated a new ICT Authority Board.
Prof Timothy Waema
Ms Esther Kibeere
Ms Bertha Dena
Prof Elijah Omwenga
Mr David Mugo
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.