Suffocating technology revolution a major drawback

Friday, July 3rd, 2020 00:00 |

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Eric Masinde

The change in technology in Kenya depends on visionary leaders who will ensure the right policies are put in place to create an environment for change, innovation, and development.

The citizens will always be there to support and provide the human resource which will drive such vision to fruition. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in our dear country. 

Looking behind, innovative ideas that have been introduced in this country have always been fought vehemently by retrogressive Kenyans and leaders who believe that technology is here to disrupt normalcy, which they are so comfortable with, and to close loopholes, which are avenues for them to ‘eat’. 

An example is the disruption that “digital matatus” brought into the industry received.

Kenyans could book matatus using mobile applications, they could choose the time and place to be picked as well select modes of payment of their choice, all from the comfort of their seats.

Moreover, these digital matatus offered more comfort than the normal matatus.

This had disrupted the matatu industry and suddenly, the “cartels” who control the sector could not fathom how easily they had lost their “loyal” customers to the new wave.

It is more sensible for a Kenyan to board one matatu than to board two matatus to their destination.

Most stakeholders in the matatu industry did not take this innovation positively and, as expected, digital matatus started facing resistance starting from licenses to routes they ply.

 In my opinion, the best approach by leaders and authorities would have been to find the best way to review the existing policies to accommodate the new technology in the industry while making sure that they do not step on the feet of the normal matatus giving them a smooth option of moving with the new technology if they so wish. 

A while back, during one of the parliamentary committee inquiries, the Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC) boss then reported that they allegedly had intentions to purchase a system that would monitor transportation of petroleum products from Mombasa to Nairobi through the main pipeline and would notify them of any leakages at any point of the pipeline necessitating them to take action.

The technology would cost Sh4 billion yet save a lot of money lost through vandalism and redirection of the petroleum products by cartels from the pipeline, but they allegedly opted not to purchase only to perpetuate theft of oil on transit.

I fail to understand how hard it can be for public servants paid by taxpayers’ money to choose between a technology that will stop pilferage of resources and foregoing it completely?

As a nation, we have continued to struggle on how to go about the drone technology, yet other countries have revolutionized their usage.

Visionary countries are using the technology in numerous spectra of human activities including journalism, supply of medicine to remote areas which have close to impassable terrains and even recently used to communicate to people who were outside their homes during lockdown and curfew hours in areas where coronavirus cases were high instructing them to go back to their houses while here in Kenya we are still stuck at profiling them as foreign objects in the air space and charging high importation duty and operational license costs. 

Why can’t we come up with favorable policies that will create a conducive environment for Kenyans to use drones in different sectors of our economy?

Drones cannot only be used in private sectors but also by the government during times of emergency.

For many years technology in this country has been a reason for crooked people to mince money  from hardworking innovative Kenyans and top tier investors through expensive licenses and a chance to show their power by fighting it to make sure that we remain with archaic systems which are full of loopholes for them to “eat”.

As East Africa’s “Silicon Valley”, there is need to embrace and implement technology with speed.

There is a rise in urgency to move with agility towards formulating and adopting policies that are in tandem with actions. - The Writer Eric Masinde works as an ICT assistant at Transparency International Kenya

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