How Kenya ICT Board Kills the Spirit of Tech Innovators and Content Generators
This post is inspired by the spirit of transparency as enshrined in the new constitution. So please nobody should hold it against me nor take it personal. When the voice of the voiceless is dimmed with shouts of traitor! traitor! , we take it upon ourselves to sneak it through this medium and make sure that it is heard loud enough.
We must first acknowledge that the Kenyan government through ICT Board is trying in various ways to market the country’s ICT potential as well as help techies look for opportunities elsewhere around the world. Through the seminars, conferences and informal meetups all over, the ICT Board has at-least made a move to show that they can work. But it is not even above average effort according to me. The hype is just around a few people in Nairobi and not even the middle class communities of techies have been fully roped into the tech idea.
You want to know how Kenya ICT Board stands accused? Read below;
1. Favoritism and Class of Winners Around Paul Kukubo and Key ICT Board Managers
This issue has been a bone of contention of many Kenyans who are into ICT. Many of the trailblazers in tech in Kenya who works freelance developers, engineers and systems analysts have been locked out of key meetings of Kenya ICT Board. We have very many Kenyans who did set up or trained in such firms as Africa Online, Aptech, IS, Fintech and even Symphony but are now mostly freelaancing.
The fact that they like things formal and have not had a chance to bulldoze their way into the office of Paul Kukubo has meant that they are locked out from key events. There is a feeling within Kenya ICT Board that the few mailing lists individuals runs are the best advertising avenues. They then leave out those whom because they have contrary opinions, have been left out of the mailingg lists. Whenever you have had a contest, it has first been shared within the circle of friends of former 3 Mice and Paul Kukubo and then the immediate friends whom Kukubo has worked with on projects.
That is how you will find same individuals sit on judging panels of Pasha and Local Content. They have no other qualification apart from having a basic education and being the friends of the right people. You will learn why below. And even the media nowadays they invite first channels run by friends of Kukubo. I have heard confessions from friends who work with such channels and tells me that Paul Kukubo called them personally to go cover such events while Kenya ICT Board supposedly maintains a media mailing list which they rarely used.
2. Management at ICT Board / Ignorance and Poor Judging of Key Contests
You have seen ICT Board call for proposals for the local contents and the Pasha centres loans. First the Local Contents grant was a poorly organised and executed idea that it smells strongly of fraud. Friends of Kaburo Kobia, Paul Kukubo and key personnel at Kenya ICT Board were called and informed that what was needed was a mobile application and not necessarily a content of any nature. So we have found out that firms were set up for the competition with mobile platforms generated using app wizards for mainly Nokia’s OVI store.
The app platforms were later hyped by Paul Kukubo and Kaburo Kobia with the other Tandaa proponents through the tech talks. 90% of the entities and platforms presented by the winners are non-existent just less than one year later. Many applicants who have been generating contents years before even the idea of rewarding content generators was mooted are asking if it was a contest to reward for content or for platforms. We talked to 3 organisation which applied for the funds and they say that when they contacted Kaburo Kobia to ask what was the criteria because none of those awarded had content, Kaburo called them “loud mouthed bitches who were mourning over a missed opportunity”.
And some of the judging in contests like digital content grant contest were also questioned with those who were shortlisting asking why Jessica Colaco and Professor Thairu were on the panel? None of them have done any serious content they cant talk about. Prof. Thairu is an educationist and Jessica Colaco is a mobile developer. So you find like one of the judges called Kenya Buzz before the shortlisting and asked them that the panel would be looking for a mobile app. The Kenya Buzz team jumped on the idea and immediately generated a mobile app and they won the grant. Almost one year down the line, they don’t have the content they won the grant for. Their mobile apps are a sketch of what the grant could do.
And so the Kenya Buzz directors who are all British, Alix Grubel, Marta and Nicholas saw it as an opportunity to get a piece of the Kenyan pie which they were invited to taste. Not that the money made any difference to them considering that they are doing consultancies in various fields and from the physical magazine they could also generate enough money to develop a better mobile app for iOS, Windows or Symbian phones but they just don’t see a better market there yet. This is just but one example.
3. All Kenya ICT Board Concentrated in Nairobi
The duty of preaching the ICT evangelism has been left to poorly equipped college graduates who travel upcountry and will not have good internet connection or sometimes even a laptop to keep in touch. Kenya ICT Board has jumped onto the bus of iHub and you would think that Kenyan government built the iHub. Instead of harnessing such synergies regionally, Paul Kukubo and his gang are resting on his laurels and relying on the empty buzz the Kenyan techies have created online to chest thump and claim rewards.
Not much effort is being put into listening to Kenyans in Mandera, Eldoret, Kakamega, Kisii or even Mombasa to understand where there problems lie in promoting the use of ICT. You can imagine what the amount being used to host 50 or so people in Serena can do in a place like Kisii in promoting ICT. If Kenya ICT Board was to hold such a meeting, they would transport all the layabouts from Nairobi to Kisii for sight seeing and off the city tours.
4. Contrary Opinion is from the Devil
If you dare speak ill of the efforts of Kenya ICT Board managers, you will be blacklisted from key events, bad mouthed and even given secret labels from the mongrels kept to bark and earn their keep through the joomla and wordpress installation projects marketed around as web design assignments. Dare ask Paul Kukubo a question on any of the mailing lists and you will see how many of the mongrels will jump on your neck and accuse you of all manner of things including “plotting to kill the good manager”.
To better the workings at Kenya ICT Board and other state organs, contrary opinion MUST be listened to. It is not a matter of being holier-than-thou Himself but these are state funds.
We will be updating this post as time goes by but you can comment below on what you feel about the Kenyan ICT Board and its operations.