Sunday, April 29, 2007

Changing face of government

The first time, Bitange Ndemo, Information and Communication PS responded to an article I had sent to the KICTANet mailing list, I could not believe it. I thought someone else was doing it on his behalf.

After all, we are used to government officers who follow protocol that even responding to straight forward questions is a problem. Even clarifying issues.

So, for me to read from a PS explaining how I had left out vital points or misconstrued facts was amazing. He did not condemn, only clarified. He also encouraged dialogue, invited list members to ask, and he answered promptly.

Ndemo is now well known by list members and does not wait or give appointments just to explain about the fibre optic cable. He is known to visit forums such as mashada and explain to the youth about issues affecting his ministry.

For a journalist, this is easy, just drop him an email and you are home and dry….

Ndemo may be exceptional because he is trying to promote ICTs but there are other instances where the face of government has changed.

Sample this, during the KICTANet monthly forum, a young man, Robert Ogutu, from the ministry of youth affairs was present to explain about their projects at the ministry. She was accompanied by a colleague who was speaking about reviving the village polytechnics and the inherent challenges.

What was good about the presentations was that both presenters had just a day to make presentations; they worked hard and made it.

They extinguished earlier ideas that civil servants are lazy and will always point to red tape as a reason not to participate in events especially organised by private sector.

In my opinion, this is the kind of country we would like, where government officers freely interact with the public and can participate easily with private sector and civil society and share ideas.

We almost there….