This has been a great week for the tech community in Kenya. The Connected Kenya conference just ended at Leisure Lodge in Diani. I will not write about it since I never got to be physically there (but I was able to access all the presentations made on the Connected Kenya website and at times even got to catch up with all the goings on via a lives stream on the same site) I will leave it to the attendants to inform us more. However while the tech community was busy making strategies on how to take this country of ours forward, something fishy was happening within the non-tech community (which surprisingly is part of the same government that is to steer Kenya into the information age). Welcome to Kenya, the land of the great wildebeest migration. The place where planes read speeches.
On 4th April, the Office of the President, the most powerful office in the land no doubt, invited interested parties to apply for tenders to provide airlifting services. Not just any airlifting services but airlifting of presidential speeches…mmmh!
The reaction online was as expected. There was an uproar and some clever people had the guts to raise the issue to the powers that be at the Connected Kenya conference. Well, let’s face it; the Office of the President is still in 18xx. Somewhere in the 19th century. In this day and age we still airlift presidential speeches? How funny! Have the guys at the OP never heard of secure email? Encrypted email?
There are so many solutions to this. Yes our President may not be as tech savvy as President Obama who is happily addicted to his Blackberry but seriously his handlers and all the guys at his office surely know that it is possible today to send secure emails. If the government is willing to award a tender worth Ksh 500,000 (remind me again how much it costs to send an email) for a firm to airlift presidential speeches to the provincial and district levels for national holidays then surely the same government is capable of facilitating the putting in place of a network to enable communication between the Office of the President, State House and the people the President needs to get in touch with. It is very possible. Though possible, I don’t know why someone at the OP is hell bent on having planes deliver the speeches. For me I am not interested in what is motivating the advertisement and subsequently the award of the tender but rather how we can apply some of these things that are openly advocated for in government sponsored information technology forums. It will go a long way in walking the talk.