Technology-Heavy Days in Nairobi

Who can deny the importance of technology in the digital era now? This is the time when we might smile more in front of our gadget screens instead of in real face to face conversations. These are the days when social networking across the internet may give you more jobs and fun compared with the old-fashioned socializing after working hours.

I believe that is why the 2nd Voices Against Corruption Network Forum, just started Wednesday (28/4) in Nairobi, Kenya, is packed with sessions on Information and Communication Technology. In the first day alone, almost four out of eight hours of sessions were spent to discuss about it. Add two more hours for those who chose the Mapping for Social Accountability group, SMS user feedback group, and Incident Reporting and Election Monitoring group in the last session.

Jeff Thindwa of World Bank Institute in his opening remarks said, “By the end of this forum, we hope to have tools and knowledge to implement projects in our countries with help of ICT.”

After the coffee break, our Filipino friends from Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP) told the participants about their efforts in Philippines. They have started projects to enforce social accountability in education sector as well as peacemaking: Check My School, Check My University (which reminded me of Peru’s Universidad Coherente), and Check My Peace.

Later Jayeesh Singh Balla, an expert who designed the ICT strategy for Kenya, even brought to us six mini-sessions with more experts who have used (and are still using) technology to help social accountability practiced around the globe. “There are many ICT tools, but remember to keep it relevant with your vision,” Balla said before giving the floor to those experts.

The mini-sessions gave us an amazing array of how the ICT can be used to monitor service delivery, especially in education, health, and infrastructure sectors, as well as the election process. Most of the experts use simple SMSes plus some complicated algorithms to gather data and sort it out to produce a map of problems that need solution or good happenings which need compliments.

“The system should incorporate not only complains, but also compliments,” said Phillip Thigo of SODNet. He and his team has developed Huduma (it means “service” in Swahili), the ICT platform that also enables the authority to respond the complains — and compliments.

There will be more about ICT today and tomorrow, so be prepared!

image source: http://ycorpblog.com/2008/06/17/kids-technology-and-common-sense/

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