The year is 2014, nearly two years since the current government made pledges to make Kenya better in all aspects, a youth led team. And a promise to be more digital in government operations. The digital government was to start with free WiFi in all major towns in the first year, something that is yet to be realized. Computers for class one kids was another promise that looked quite juicy. Our kids will have all the resources to compete in the global playing field. Only that it still remains a mirage. The only digital things we could speak of are new social media accounts, hashtags and joomla websites for all presidential and associated properties. You know, we have to speak to the people. That and the switch-over to cashless payments for Nairobi’s PSV industry which is marred by confusion and fragmentation.
That sums up the digital government in Kenya.
Here’s the major problem. These are aspirational things that promise improvements in economy and ease the way people do things. The more important things like food and physical security, corruption and resource allocation are yet to be addressed in a way that befits our standards as a “middle-income” country.
Kenya has had several fatal security lapses in various parts, to name a few we have Westgate Mall, Mpeketoni in Lamu, Kapedo Mandera and Garissa. There are others here and there in Nairobi and other places. Kenya has come out mostly as a reactive instead of proactive in the handling of security. What many Kenyans perceive is that the government even doesn’t handle intelligence the way they expect a quite resourceful institution to have. We have had cases where local people reported to central government, very useful intel, but this wasn’t acted upon and it comes out after an attack that could even be predicted based on the average person’s assumption.
It doesn’t stop there. On social media where the “digital government” happens, conversations in the media about Kenya’s security like a most recent one Press Pass on Nation TV is where Kenyans on twitter were able to see it and call bullshit. Conversations on TV and other mainstream media trickles onto social media and the hashtag #presspass is where things were happening yesterday. In order for it to appear that many people are siding with the government, fake social media accounts are created.
— Mercy Murugi (@mercymurugi) December 1, 2014
Tweetdeck among other twitter clients come to play here to manage the numerous social accounts, with individuals unaware it would take a very short time to reveal how their intelligence was being insulted. Kenyans on Twitter were able to pick out these Twitter accounts based on their tweeting habits characterized by similar tweets across several Twitter profiles.
One of the images in the fake twitter profiles belong to a convict of an Ohio Mall bombing, who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 2007.
Users on Twitter went on to show well how unauthentic these twitter profiles were by searching on Tineye (refer to image gallery above, click to preview) to reveal that the faces on the Twitter avatars were indeed stock images. Something similar to what I did sometime back. Yes, one of the images belong to a convict of an Ohio Mall bombing, who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 2007. This is how far back we are at.
The digital government is now characterized by having a very strong presence in the media, especially on social media, but with quite little to show with activities that really require government attention. Meanwhile, Kenyans still demand that they be guaranteed security.