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Save for the voting ink eyesore, IEBC has shown great promise

If there is an invaluable lesson to be drawn from the just-concluded elections, it is the great promise of technology to turn around the economy.

I admired the ingenuity and synchrony of the electronic voter identification (Evid) system and the use of biometric voter registration (BVR) under the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (Kiems) that significantly shortened the interaction time between polling stations and tallying centres.

This is despite some of the glaring shortcomings that have been pointed out in the deployment of ICT—which, of course, need to be addressed—but again we reckon that this is also normal with any technology. It is never that perfect.

However, I fail to understand why, in spite of all the technology at play, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission would still insist on applying ink on the index fingers of voters.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati should ensure that the system is programmed to eliminate cases of double voting to save voters the agony of having some indelible markings, which point to the old ways of doing things.

INTERNET

I could be wrong but I see no need for it. With ease of access to the internet, the same can be applied in the day-to-day running of businesses to not only create employment opportunities for the thousands of jobless youths, whose numbers grow by the day as technical institutions and universities graduate students every year, but also contain the runaway crime in most societies in the developing world.

A recent study by the Word Bank finds that new information and communications technologies (ICT)—in particular, high-speed internet—are changing the way companies do business, transforming public service delivery and democratising innovation.

With a 10 per cent increase in high speed internet connections, economic growth increases by 1.3 per cent.

For a country eyeing double-digit growth to foot an ever-ballooning public wage bill, it calls for more investment in this lucrative resource.

The ongoing rollout of 4G networks is a step in the right direction. We will require more homegrown tech geeks to break more ceilings of innovation—as we have seen in mobile money transfers.

ICT COURSES

And never before, students undertaking various courses in ICT field need no further assurance that the future is bright.

I am not in any way admonishing those taking arts-based courses. They are equally important because the society must realise growth in all its aspects.

The ICT ministry, under Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, has done a commendable job in giving the blueprint for the sector.

It is, indeed, the next frontier of growth.

One key ingredient that must be guaranteed is peace. I know that fostering cohesion in the post-election period can be a challenge but we cannot afford any route that threatens peaceful co-existence.

POLITICAL BICKERING

Kenyans are known the world over to be hardworking and their entrepreneurial spirit must not be curtailed by political bickering.

Businesses must continue even as politicians sort out their issues.

Feed the Future, a US organisation promoting food security on the use of technology, in a case study on women farmers in Kenya, makes a recommendation that cannot go unheeded.

It says in a report: “ICTs offer the opportunity for rapid and cost-effective dissemination of agricultural information to remote locations and to diverse populations.

“They make it possible to deliver near real-time information on weather, market prices, disease and pest outbreaks, and the availability of services, allowing farmers to make more informed decisions on what to grow and how to improve their agricultural practices.”

From students to shop owners, farmers to innovators and big corporates, in ICT lies the promise to greatness.

 Mr Gicharu is the founder and chairman of Mount Kenya University

With a 10 per cent increase in high speed internet connections, economic growth increases by 1.3 per cent.

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