Fresh hurdles in Sh3bn ICT roadmap worry World Bank

By: LILIAN OCHIENG

The World Bank has identified lack of political goodwill and low ICT budgets as glaring setbacks in the implementation of a Sh3 billion ICT roadmap to strengthen county services.

In a statement this Tuesday, the World Bank said that as counties look to converge their processes digitally, lack of co-operation from top management and inadequate financing pose huge threats.

“There should be elaborate ICT organisational structures at county levels. The ICT Authority should come up with a plan for implementation and finance,” said the statement.

The World Bank funds county ICT projects through the Kenya Transparency and Communications Infrastructure Project (KTCIP), while the ICT Authority follows up on implementation.

All the 47 counties are gearing for sustained growth driven by ICT.

According to the 2015 Kenya Economic Survey, the ICT sector was worth Sh138 billion in 2014.

Kenya’s economy has grown at an annual average of 3.7 per cent since 2000, with ICT being seen as the propeller of growth not only for the national government but for the counties, too.

ICT MASTER PLAN

The ICT Authority, with the help of the World Bank, is trying to align counties to the national development agenda that is entrenched in the National ICT Master Plan.

The ICT Authority says most counties have completed their ICT roadmaps, identifying communication infrastructure and platform, ICT centres and incubators, and broadcast and electronic voting centres as priority areas.

“Most proposals had gaps between ICT projects and the strategic analysis contained in the county development plans. The capacity of counties to implement large enterprise or infrastructure projects successfully may, therefore, be in doubt,” says an ICT Authority statement.

World Bank country director Diarietou Gaye, while launching the project last year, said there was a need to employ additional project managers, obtain more resources for open data at county level and get additional staff for finance and procurement.

ICT ROADMAPS

The ICT roadmaps are expected to help expand national open data in counties.

They are also expected to bring national and county governments closer as they engage in ICT reforms that enhance transparency.

The ICT roadmaps must be aligned to the National ICT Master Plan and the county development plans.

Counties are required to acquire ICT equipment and the skills needed. They are also tasked with implementation of cloud applications for payroll, financial management and revenue collection.

The project was mooted when Kenya approached the World Bank for assistance in integrating ICT in its new county structures as devolution took shape.

The World Bank first released Sh3 billion for setting up of an ICT roadmap for each of the 47 counties.

According to the ICT Authority, the roadmaps will be used to seek funding at county levels.

It is envisioned that the roadmaps will help create ways of enhancing existing project activities and deepen reforms in ICT at county levels.

“The specific applications for Nairobi will be an Integrated County Management Tool for revenue collection and management and a Unified Communications System,” said the World Bank statement.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION