KENYA: BUSTING CORRUPTION USING THE INTERNET
The Information Technology Standards Association (ITSA) of Kenya has launched an Electronic Graft Management pilot project whose aim is to increase public awareness and encourage public participation in fighting corrupt practices. The pilot project intends to use the Internet and e-mail as the channel for communication by the public for reporting. The idea is to introduce the use of an internet hotline, popularly know as online reporting mechanism. For the pilot project the existing Internet infrastructure that currently covers six major towns will be used. Existing Internet Cafés and e-Touch centers in these towns will be used, by the public for reporting, at no cost. In addition to this, two remote locations which do not have the required infrastructure will also be set up to test the feasibility of connecting the larger rural areas.
Electronic Governance (eGovernance) has three components: Electronic Government (eGovernment), Electronic Democracy (eDemocracy) and Electronic Business (eBusiness). Electronic Government (eGovernment) is intended to improve the delivery of government services to the citizens using electronic means. In many countries, one of the biggest impediments to delivery of government services is entrenched graft. Corruption reduces the efficiency of service delivery, slows down the economy and discourages foreign investments.
In Kenya, the Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority (KACA)
has been established to fight corruption. KACA has to date done a
commendable job, however, they have mainly been dealing with historical,
large-scale corruption cases. This has not been by choice but because KACA has
not been getting all the information it needs, especially on the everyday petty
corrupt practices country-wide, due to limited channels of access by the public.
KACA is currently using telephone, paper mail and one electronic mail - in
reality, the major channel available to the public is the telephone. Many
citizens have shied away from volunteering information to KACA because of lack
ITSA's pilot Electronic Graft Management project will offer a corruption reporting facility in six towns, two remote locations and the media will form the source points of information which will be routed to the Electronic Graft Management (EGM) Centre. The EGM Centre will filter this information electronically and forward/channel it to the relevant authorities for action. The partnerships are currently being formulated between ITSA and the relevant authorities.
The greatest challenge facing the implementation of this project is "How the public will be made to report genuine corruption voluntarily". ITSA proposes to use highly motivated youth volunteers to inform the public in the selected areas about the availability of the online channel. The youth's campaign will be backed up by the news media. The awareness campaign will target groups such as teachers and traders associations, NGOs, community based organizations, churches and religious organizations, as well as private and public institutions. There will also be door-to-door campaign (offices, shops, etc.). To be included in the awareness campaign will be the experiences of the public, ease of access to the available cafés and ability to use them.
The EGM Centre will monitor the volume of corruption reporting on a monthly basis. An increase in the volume over time will indicate that the number of people using this channel is increasing, which in turn implies increased public awareness, and trust in this channel. The EGM Centre will also solicit statistical feedback from the implementing bodies on the actions taken, and make it available to the public, to motivate them to continue using the channel.
ITSA is looking for collaborators and donors to implement this pilot project. The critical areas that will need donor funding include training of the public to use the online channel, free Internet access to the public for reporting and setting up of the remote telecentres.
Dr John Onunga is the Chair of Information Technology Standards Association of Kenya and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, University of Nairobi. P.O. Box 62994, Nairobi, Kenya. Telephone: 254-2-719135 E-mail: email@example.com