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Governance

Stanford Seed names new director to lead its expansion efforts into India & across Africa

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Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, aka Stanford Seed, has named Darius Teter as the new executive director of the institute to  oversee its growth and expansion in Africa and into India respectively.

Teter, is a former VP of global programs at Oxfam America where he oversaw the humanitarian emergency response team and regional development programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well as research, learning and evaluation. Stanford Seed believes his experience in international development,  humanitarian emergencies and financing public infrastructure mega-projects will be key to expanding its programs in Africa and India.

“Darius is passionate about promoting global economic prosperity, making him the ideal leader for Stanford Seed,” said Jonathan Levin, the Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business. “As Stanford Seed continues to grow and evolve, Darius’ deep experience will help guide the institute to its next level of success.”

Teter will work closely with Sørensen, who served as executive director of Seed from 2015 to 2017, and Raj Chellaraj, associate dean for finance and administration at the GSB, who served as chief operating officer of Seed during the same time period. Teter holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Yale University and a Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard Kennedy School. He has also completed advanced studies in resource economics at the University of British Columbia.

Founded in 2011, Seed held its first Transformation Program in Accra, Ghana, in 2013 and expanded to Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016. Since then, the Seed Transformation Program has trained and mentored 565 entrepreneurs and senior staff members, leading to increased revenue and new job creation throughout the region. In addition, participating companies have raised almost $11 million in funding and 79 percent have grown their customer base.

In May 2017, Seed announced its expansion into India through its new location in Chennai, which will serve entrepreneurs from across the country. The first annual program will run from August 2017 to August 2018 and will be held at the state-of-the-art Infosys corporate campus.

My president launches portals, funny portals

In April 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as the country’s 4th president in what he called ‘the most complex general election in our history’ with both praise and criticism in equal measure.

In his speech, the jubilant president said his government would be founded on economic growth, strengthened by a globally competitive education system and access to affordable healthcare and food-security.

He promised to be held accountable by all Kenyans on promises such as zero maternity fees, loans for the youth and women, funds for devolution and dealing with unemployment. Whether these were illusions or have been achieved it’s up to Kenyans to decide and vote them back in or out.

This is the battle the Kenyatta government has. To actually prove to Kenyans that it has worked and that its projects were not projects of the coalition government according to Raila Odinga-led opposition coalition  the National Super Alliance or NASA . To help Kenyans easily see and identify its achievements, the Kenyatta team has over the years launched various portals such as President.go.ke which tracks the president’s itenary with speeches and press releases. Mygov.go.ke- the larger government press machinery run by the ministry of ICT and supporting the executive arm to communicate its achievements as well rally for his election and the grand launch of delivery.go.ke which was personally launched by the president and his deputy to showcase the Jubilee government’s achievements since it came in power in April 2013. The site replaces Nexus.or.ke which never survived a month and complements President.go.ke and Mygov.go.ke.

Delivery.go.ke, run by the President’s Delivery Unit, is divided into three sections namely Flagship Programmes, County Programmes and Ministry Programmes. The Flagship Programmes are under ICT, Lands, Health care, and Infrastructure with many listed as completed, ongoing at different phases, or completed.

Whether the projects began in the Kibaki regime or were funded by international organizations, it’s not a big deal. Some of the projects such as roads, hospitals and bit of rural electrification are genuine while others are exaggerated. The site indicates 2.5M plus title deeds have been processed while processing fees for another 3M titles waived. Delivery.go.ke run by the President’s Delivery Unit, a centre of government function based in the Office The President has done a fair job as the primary unit tasked to improve the coordination of National Government flagship programs. Nzioka Waita, its head has done a commendable job. But it gets worse.

Over the weekend, we noticed several sites online allegedly ordered by propaganda firm Cambridge Analytica feared for its role for Trump election and the Brexit referendum vote. The two sites, one for Raila and one for Uhuru, built in the same format with the same goal- respectively spreading hate and loyalty about the candidates on social media. The firm behind it went ahead to buy Twitter and Google Ads for the sites, a move readers think aim to hijack user democracy and win the swing vote among the youth undecided about both Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga.

To the NASA camp, the websites and ads are miracle if the comments on some of the aerticles are anything to go by. One such article by a certain Kimani Ichung’wa (hope not the M.P) claims to Raila everything is bad if he doesn’t take credit.

“NASA flagbearer Raila Odinga has tried to make this a campaign agenda, and has called for the project to be scrapped or reversed,” Ichung’wa writes. “His statements betray, once again, that attacking the government is more important than advancing the country’s development agenda, and caring for his own constituents. He will have to explain why a high-speed train that will trigger economic development and create jobs in Western and Nyanza regions — his own backyard — should be cancelled.”

“The answer is simple for all who haved followed Raila’s political career. If he doesn’t take credit for something, he tries to discredit it, even if it is good for Kenya and the people. The opposition’s excuse for opposing the SGR extension is another red herring. They claim the government is making the national debt unsustainable,” says the writer. However, to the surprise of the writer, the negative articles are working wonders for Raila Odinga and his team.

Surprisingly most of the readers are in support of Raila Odinga, the NASA candidate and are not portraying the intended negative image the team had intended.

“Job Orandi Mageto you’re so stupid person when you talk badly to Raila. which kenya a you living madeni yanatumaliza kabisa kwa hii serikali yenye haijali mkenya wa kawaida. serikali yenye anatuambia ati unga ni 90 na hali ilali unga ni 130 kwa sababu ya kufikilia duni kuwa supermaket ziko mpaka vijijini.

Denice Job Ochieng Hmmm you talk as if you are a visitor in Kenya and as if you are soon leaving…. Get this its not about the locomotives and all that you say,, look into the life of a normal mkenya who pays taxes as well as looking for sh.200 to pass a meal.. And look forward to another,, now maintaining the life is the problem…. Tell such a Kenyan about the locomotives!!! And yet no food to put him up!!! That’s why I strongly sa that… #JUBILEE_MUST_GO who to take that place #BABA_JOSHUA_RAILA
Frenky Madividy Stupis analysis we all know how much raila has contributed to the development of this country both freedom wise,economicwise and politically.your stupid analysis can only be compared to that of Mutahi Ngunyi who always dreams about raila
Vickery Omwandho ABDUBA DIDA QUOTES:
” Uhuru Kenyatta spent 3 years at the ICC trying to save himself, when he came back he called parties and started campaigning, when did he sit down to work?
Those working in this Country are the Chinese. They propose an idea, fund, implement and manage the idea! and that’s the tragedy of this Country.
 
 According to the Star, the Jubilee Party hired global data mining company Cambridge Analytica and British communications firm BTP Advisers to help it retain the presidency. For the record, Cambridge Analytica, which allegedly uses fake online opinion pieces as news, hate and ethnic profiling to create divisions between political camps  and win over undecided voters has a string of failures in Nigeria while working for Yar’Adua, and in Lativia and in St Lucia and failure to help Ted Cruz clinch the republican nominations leave alone the US presidency.

Unlike other populations, Kenyans are queer and might not easily be swayed by backward psychological warfare waged by ex-military men through social media ads. Negative labels elevate candidates up above others and easily wins them sympathy votes for not fighting back; a principle used by Sun Tzu, in his Art of War , “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” Apart from public war of words, Raila is not fighting back by showing he cant compete the Uhuru team on resources then using the same tactic to claim the incumbent is using public resources and shortchanging voters against Kenya’s elections Act Section  14.

The act states that a candidate, referendum committee or other person shall not use public resources for the purpose of campaigning during an election or a referendum. No government shall publish any advertisements of achievements of the respective government either in the print media, electronic media, or by way of banners or hoardings in public places during the election period.

Coupled with corruption, ceiling food prices, inflation and unemployment,  the issue of public resources makes Raila an easy sale to his sympathizers by portraying himself as the Joshua to lead his people into a safer Canaan with food and honest leaders. So whether Raila is going to hire a data team to buy ads or not; the damage intended by Jubilee Party strategists is working positively for the opposition.

Though known as a big data firm, Cambridge Analytica doesnt actually use big data, but neuroticism, old-fashioned propaganda and tricks and subterfuge like it did for by creating tensions between Latvians and ethnic Russian residents to influence voting behavior. In Trinidad the firm helped a candidate by importing graffiti artists to do slogans and stickers to appear as if they were by Trinidadians. In Nigeria, in 2016, the firm dissuaded opposition supporters from voting by organizing anti-poll rallies and discrediting opponents. For Leave.eu, the firm targeted anti-BREXIT supporters with Facebook, Twitter, and Google ads using their digital traces.

Cambridge Analytica buys personal data from surveys on social media, land registries, car registration, shopping data, loyalty cards, membership cards, shopping, schools, among others then aggregates this data into real people with their age, address, fears, needs, interests, and where they stay or who they intend to vote for. These findings help Cambridge Analytica to target each person with an appropriate political message to influence their voting. Unless the tactics are stopped, Kenyans should be ready to come across various ads targeting them and their peers with different political messages such as go out and vote against Raila Odinga, not to vote totally or to vote for the Jubilee Party to complete its development projects for the good of all Kenyans.

It gets worse with Google search with various keywords to do with Raila Odinga, Kenya elections, Unga among others lead to paid posts from various sources portraying Uhuru Kenyatta as the savior who pushed down Unga prices.

Read more about Cambridge Analytica here, here, here and here.

 

 

 

 

 

Telkom Kenya inks deal to roll out Free Wi-Fi to over 1000 constituency hubs

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Image Credit: umassmed.edu

Telkom Kenya is set to roll out free Wi-Fi in 1,160 Constituency Incubation Hubs, in a just concluded multi-million deal that will see the once struggling telco get back to its knees.

The deal will see the firm install Wi-Fi in  government-funded Constituency Incubation Hubs in the 290 constituencies across the country.

According to Managing Director of the Enterprise Division at Telkom Kenya, Kris Senanu, “We are excited about the roll-out of this new government project. As a strategic partner to the Kenya government’s national ICT agenda, Telkom Kenya is able to provide end-to-end solutions, tailor-made to meet a growing set of needs for the Public Sector.”

The deal will complement Telkom Kenya’s stakes in the Internet development space, as other players move to lay fiber across the country in a move to profit from the growing middle class who heavily rely on the Internet for their work and play in this knowledge-based economy.

The deal is funded by the Ministry of ICT and the National Constituency Development Fund (NCDF).

Telkom Kenya will install internet in 4 hubs per constituency, which will be equipped with 40 tablet devices each.

The Hubs will benefit youth entrepreneurs by way of helping them develop their ICT skills and applications, bringing them into the digital world and enabling them to grow and start new businesses.

The National Constituency Development Fund will fund the project for the supply and installation of the equipment component while the Ministry of ICT will fund the provision of Internet broadband services for a period of one year.

Telkom Kenya also manages the government’s National Optic Fibre Backbone (NOFBI).

European Commission to invest €300m to support renewable energy in Africa

The European Commission has invested  €300 million in funding in the African Union led Africa Renewable Energy Initiative for sustainable energy projects.

The €300 million is expected to leverage total investments amounting to €4.8 billion, adding 1.8 Gigawatts of new renewable energy generation in Africa.

 Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, announced the preparation of 19 new renewable energy projects, with a total potential investment of €4.8 billion.

 “With these 19 new projects, potentially worth €4.8 billion of investments, the European Union is delivering on its promises. We are turning our pledges into real projects with true impact on the ground. The EU hereby reaffirms its leading role in supporting the African continent in the promotion of renewable energies for the improvement of energy access for African citizens.” said Commissioner Mimica.This will contribute to the European Commission’s aim for 2020: to give 30 million more people access to sustainable energy, to save 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, and to help generate 5 Gigawatts of new renewable energy in Africa.

This represents half of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative‘s overall target, as one of AREI’s key objectives is to generate 10 Gigawatt of new renewable energy in Africa by 2020, and to unlock Africa’s potential to generate as much as 300 Gigawatt from renewable energy by 2030.

The EU’s development funding towards sustainable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 2014-2020 amounts to approximately €2.7 billion.

The European Commission, the EU Member States and the EU Financial Institutions will support AREI through the Africa Investment Facility (AfIF), the Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI) and the future External Investment Plan.

9th edition of annual Connected Summit set to be held in April

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Th 9th edition of the annual Connected Summit is set to be held on 9th to 13th April, 2017 at Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort, Diani, Kwale County.
The objectives of the summit include review progress and achievements in the sector since the last summit as well as allow participants to share knowledge, best practices and lessons learnt.
This year’s summit also aims to recommend policy, regulatory and operational interventions and chart a future for Kenya’s economic prosperity via ICT. It will also provide a platform for meaningful networking between the public and private sector and participants will evaluate key milestones in the National ICT Master Plan and Vision 2030 Blueprint.
Last year, the Summit was themed ‘Bridging the Service Gap’, aimed at helping to identify gaps in public sector service delivery and use ICT to solve them.Giving opening remarks, Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of ICT said the summit was “an opportunity to work together to bring about changes. ”

Mucheru said the summit is a chance for Kenyans to give the ministry ideas to make Kenya work in regards to ICT. A time for people to debate on issues such as VAT on devices, 4G an 5G licences, dominance,  regulation of over the top services like Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram and much more.

East Africa Countries Unveil a $4.4 Million Electronic Cargo Tracking System to Reduce Transit Time & Cargo Theft

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Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have officially unveiled a Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTs) enabling them to jointly track movement of goods from Mombasa Port to Kampala and Kigali.

The system, launched by the three countries Revenue Authorities is excepted to reduce the cost of doing business by reducing transit time, enhancing cargo safety and helping traders to better predict arrival of goods.  The service was launched in Nakawa, Kampala and will be free as Revenue Authorities will meet all operational costs.

According to URA Commissioner General Doris Akol, “The partnership with Kenya and Rwanda helps us monitor goods from end to end, easing cargo handling, improving revenue collection and reducing diversion of un-taxed goods into the market. It will lead to improved fair trade as goods that have not been taxed will not be diverted to distort the market. This will benefit our traders and assure potential investors of level playing field in our region”.

The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) has supported the project by giving USD4.4million grant through TradeMark East Africa.  The launch of the Regional Electronic Cargo tracking System marks is expected to reduce by a third the time to import and export goods, seal loopholes that lead to revenue loss because of diversion of un-taxed goods into the market, enable transporters to reduce their transit costs and increase the productivity of their fleet and eliminate the need for physical escort and monitoring of sensitive cargo, such as batteries, fuel, cigarettes.

RECTs comprises satellites, central command centres in each of the revenue authorities in Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali, smart gates and rapid response units. An electronic seal is attached on transit cargo vehicles and communicates with the command centres giving real time updates such as vehicle location, speed, and if the container is tampered with or not. Importers, transporters, and the revenue authorities can see this information.

Rapid response units are stationed along sections of the Northern Corridor identified as notorious for diversion of goods. These rapid response units respond to alerts, received from the command centres, about suspicious behaviour like diversion from designated route, unusually long stop over, or attempt to open a container, which they investigate and resolve on the spot.

Frank Matsaert, TMEA CEO said, “RECTs efficiency will ingrain fair terms of trade by creating a level playing field for both importers and local industries as it helps in eliminating diversion of cargo. Surely, with this strong partnership between the private sector, the revenue authorities and TMEA it is possible that we can reduce transit time from Mombasa to Kampala down to 2days”

KRA, URA and RRA hope to work with other revenue agencies in the region to continue integrating their systems and further simplify trade. The first phase of the Electronic Cargo Tracking System in Uganda reduced transit days from an average of 6 days (December 2013) to 1.5days for truckers moving from Busia to Elegu (the border with South Sudan.).

 

 

 

IEBC mulls launch of mobile registration centres to register more voters

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Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) might launch mobile registration centers to register voters in Kilifi North, Kilifi South, Ganze, Turkana East and Samburu West Constituencies due to the ongoing drought, insecurity and those in currently in colleges away from their voting areas.

According to a statement from the IEBC, the first week of Mass Voter Registration II drive saw 825,145 new voters register, constituting 58% of the weekly target of 1.4 million.  However, due to logistical constraints, the data it has does not include the full data from Kilifi North, Kilifi South, Ganze, Turkana East and Samburu West Constituencies and the Commission is taking immediate measures to address the challenges outlined above, including considering the use of mobile registration centres.

The Register of Voters, also shows that there are 128,926 shared registration documents (ID and Passport numbers). This number represents 0.8% of the total number of voters in the database due to data entry errors at the time of registration, possible use of one ID to register more than once, attempted registration of more than one person using same ID and shared National ID numbers.

“Out of the 128,926 records of shared IDs, the Commission identified 107,777 records that show Same ID but different names. A further analysis showed that 53,671 of IDs were shared more than once. The remaining 21,149 are for persons who attempted to register more than once in different polling stations. We have also attached a list showing the distribution of the shared IDs across the country,” announced IEBC.

As a way forward, the Commission is working closely with NRB to clean up all the shared IDs.  In addition, a team of Registration officers and ICT operators are conducting further cleanup, IEBC said.

The Commission will make available the provisional register to the members of the public for verification adding that malpractices such as double registration will be firmly dealt with according to the law.

ICANN calls for greater participation of African countries in the ICANN to harness Internet opportunities

ICANN President and CEO Goran Marby called for greater participation of African countries in the ICANN to draw from the wealth of experience needed to capitalize on the continent’s Internet resources.

“The African continent’s participation in ICANN is important and this why we have opened an ICANN engagement office here in Nairobi last year. Partcipation is growing every day, and we want to work together, within our mission, to make sure countries in Africa are well represented on one secure, stable and resilient global Internet,’’ noted Mr.Marby.

CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi lauded ICANN for its active engagement with African governments adding that Kenya was proud to host ICANN’s first regional engagement centre and the capacity building workshop.

“We are convinced that the continued capacity building of public policy makers and regulators on matters of Internet governance is crucial for the advancement of the Internet domain name system, which is a pillar to ICTs everywhere today,” said Mr.Wangusi.

The workshop also aims at raising awareness on how governments from underserved areas, through the Governmental Advisory Committee, can best effectively participate and contribute to policy making at ICANN.

On his part Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and Technology, Mr. Joe Mucheru said Kenya has heavily invested in the expansion of Internet connectivity, to tap on its potential to catalyse socio-economic growth.

‘‘The proliferation of ICT innovations, improved government services and job creation are all benefits arising from Internet growth,” said Mr. Mucheru.

He added that given the vital nature of Internet resources, Kenya now identifies ICT infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure and called on African countries to synergize in the growth of country code top level domains (ccTLD) and Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) as well as Cyber Incident Response Teams (CIRTS).

‘‘There is need to support the growth of national and regional IXPs to promote Internet traffic growth and subsequent affordability as well as safety of the Internet,’’ added the Cabinet Secretary.

African countries have intensified efforts to build relevant capacity on the continent to fully exploit opportunities presented by the Internet.

With the Internet permeating virtually every aspect of life, in Africa, businesses and governments are increasingly relying on Internet as a vehicle for transformation.

Insufficient skills have slowed down the continent’s utilization of the Internet’s benefits.  Deliberate steps are necessary to address the capacity challenges.

Delegates from the region and officials from the global body responsible for assigning names and numbers, converged in Nairobi today to discuss how to leverage on the positive impact of the Internet how it can be translated into meaningful socio-economic gains.

The workshop convened by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Communications Authority (CA) of Kenya saw calls for increased investment in ICTs and associated infrastructure.

 

Facebook pauses use of WhatsApp data in the UK

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Elizabeth Denham,UK’s  Information Commissioner has said that Facebook has paused using WhatsApp data in its ads and friend requests after her office intervened.

The firm has also been asked Facebook to explain to customers how their data is going to be used and how they can get control of their data or opt out of similar requirements.

“We’ve set out the law clearly to Facebook, and we’re pleased that they’ve agreed to pause using data from UK WhatsApp users for advertisements or product improvement purposes,” Denham wrote on her blog. ”We have now asked Facebook and WhatsApp to sign an undertaking committing to better explaining to customers how their data will be used, and to giving users ongoing control over that information.”

Denham added that individuals should be given an opportunity to be given an unambiguous choice before Facebook start using that information and to be given the opportunity to change that decision at any point in the future.

”We think consumers deserve a greater level of information and protection, but so far Facebook and WhatsApp haven’t agreed. If Facebook starts using the data without valid consent, it may face enforcement action from my office,” she wrote promising that the Information Office will keep pushing on this, together with other data protection authorities such as the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, where Facebook’s EU headquarters are based, among others.

Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 and promised not to interfere with the firm’s data or operations. However, this year August Facebook announced it was going to use WhatsApp data to improve user experiences on WhatsApp and Facebook as well as in advertisements to the shock of its millions of users and several data protection bodies including the UK Information Commission.

”It’s a particular concern when company mergers mean that vast amounts of customers’ personal data become an asset to be bought and sold. We’re seeing situations where companies are being  bought primarily for this data, and when it is combined with information the purchasing company already holds, there’s a danger that consumers will have little control as datasets are matched and intrusive details revealed,” she said.

Denham added that her office is speaking with industry, competition regulators and consumer groups to see how they can make people aware of the law and will publish a report outlining concerns and discussing solutions.

Kenya’s Ushahidi launches a platform to monitor US elections

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CC Photo Courtesy of usatodaycom

Kenya’s Ushahidi has launched a platform to monitor the ongoing US presidential elections pitting Hillary Clinton of the Democratic party and controversial businessman Donald Trump from the Republican party as the main actors.

 

This comes against the backdrop of unprecedented conversation in the 2016 USA election concerning the voting process as well as some potential worry of violence on the Election Day.

 

“While, there is no evidence of voter fraud in America there are instances of voter suppression and voting issues on election day. As citizens, let’s raise our voices and help to report any issues on election day as well as celebrate all those who run a tight ship and bring trust to the underpinning of our democratic systems, ”   said the   Ushahidi Team on their website.

The platform is a nonpartisan citizen-led election monitoring project that will utilize the Ushahidi crowd sourcing software for the sake of transparency.

 

Ushahidi has helped run citizen-led election monitoring in countries around the world before.

“Let us emphasize that there are many other election monitoring entities working with approved trained monitors on election day.  This includes all state legislatures, both campaigns, the DNC and RNC, as well as non-partisan third party monitors. To learn more about the process, read the National Conference of State Legislatures page on policies for election observers in the USA,” said the team.

Ushahidi was categorical that the project is not meant to replace or compete with any  existing efforts, but to only to complement them.

This is a means for regular citizens who are going to vote, to report on any issues they come across, anything they witness, as well as to say that everything went great!

In case of any observation or reports go to usaelectionmonitor.com to learn how to report on the election or to help with verification of reports.

How it works

Citizens can report via Website, SMS, Twitter, or Email. Vetted volunteers will then verify those reports and publish them to this site, where they can be viewed on a map and timeline.

How you can help

1) Report on the election

Will you be at a voting booth on Nov 8th? If so, you can report to this election monitoring tool via:

2) Become a vetted verifier and help verify reports on election day      

Join the team and help verify all incoming reports. We will give you a training on how to run the tool, and set you up to help triage and verify any incoming reports on Nov 8th.

3) Get the word out!

Help us spread the word to all citizens about how to report on election day!

Suggested posts for social media:

All citizens can submit reports about polling locations and voting experiences at http://bit.ly/2exqIMl #USAelectionmonitor

 

Are you witnessing or experiencing voter suppression at your polling location? Raise your voice and report it here http://bit.ly/2fax8m0 #USAelectionmonitor

Many thanks for helping contribute to transparency in our electoral processes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An ICT accessibility Policy for E.A Persons with Disabilities in the offing

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The East Africa Community member states have begun a process of formulating a policy on ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities (PWDs), with an aim of bridging the gap between the disabled persons and the non-disabled ones.

The process kicked off at two day meeting in Nairobi on Thursday that brought together regulatory and government officials from the member states. The meeting was organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) regional office and hosted by Communications Authority of Kenya.

The member states intend to have a common policy approach to facilitate access by disadvantaged and marginalized groups, including persons with disabilities. Once formulated, the ICT accessibility Policy will be formally adopted and domesticated in all the countries in the region.

Globally it is estimated that more than a billion people in the world live with some form of disability, and 80 per cent of them live in developing countries.

A  Kenya National Survey for Persons With Disabilities, conducted by  the National Coordinating Agency for Population and Development, in 2008 showed that 4.6 per cent  of Kenyans experience some form of disability and that  more disabled persons reside in rural areas than in urban areas.

“We must, collectively, exercise joint responsibility to ensure the barriers  and challenges are eliminated if not reduced so that they can be able to meaningfully  use ICT products and services,” John Omo, Communications Authority of Kenya ,  Director Legal Services said in speech on behalf of Francis Wangusi, the Director General.

Although the mobile telephone technology is greatly improving accessibility to information in Africa, its applicability for use by people with disabilities is still highly wanting.

There are barriers to accessibility mainly because of the different designs of ICT tools used by people in the mainstream which are not adaptable for use by the PWDs.

These challenges include but are not limited to, absence of assistive technologies to help even the educated PWDs, the absence of clear intervention strategies by governments.

Marcelino Tayob, ITU Regional Office for Africa noted that the world has realized that despite the disabilities  one may have, one  can contribute to  society and be productive if  given the opportunity and if the environment is conducive and/or supportive.

“We hope that this region will be a pace setter in this regard and other regions in Africa will take steps to also have similar policies for their regions and for the benefit of their countries,” said Mr Tayob.

ITU is the specialized agency for the United Nations   for the ICTs.

The East Africa Community representative said there is urgent need for member states to closely cooperate to adopt a common approach towards addressing the needs of the disadvantaged and the marginalized, including PWD.

“Given the promise of digital services, society cannot afford to leave People with Disabilities behind. It is imperative that policies, laws, and standards are implemented to ensure that digital services are accessible to all,” The East Africa Community representative.

“Based on that Treaty provision, the EAC can do pretty much with regard to ICT accessibility, including the recommendations that may come from this workshop.”policy

The MasterCard Foundation to allocate $27 million into a scholarship program for African students

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The University of Edinburgh has partnered with The MasterCard Foundation to allocate $27 million over seven years to ensure access to education for bright young leaders from Africa.

Full scholarships will be offered to 80 undergraduate and 120 postgraduate African students. The initiative will enable Edinburgh to offer opportunities to the brightest and best African Scholars.

 

The University will work with partners to recruit talented Scholars with great potential but who face significant financial barriers to entry in higher education. Students will receive comprehensive support to remove barriers to study in Edinburgh.

They will benefit from dynamic extra-curricular course elements including summer schools and internships. These will help them to develop their abilities and make a difference to their countries and communities when they return home.

Africa is experiencing huge youth population growth as economic and employment growth stagnates. The University hopes to educate a new generation of African leaders who will create opportunities for others.

To date, the Scholars Program has committed over US $700 million to support the education and leadership development of over 30,000 young people. Edinburgh is the first university in Europe to collaborate with The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program.

The announcement comes as part of the University of Edinburgh’s Africa Week – a series of events from 3-7 October – highlighting the University’s partnerships and research in Africa.

The University of Edinburgh is committed to expanding access for students from around the world.

Edinburgh welcomed 583 students from 33 African countries last year. The University’s largest cohorts in 2015/16 included 124 students from Nigeria, 117 students from South Africa and 76 students from Kenya.

 

Governments key players in ICT capacity building

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Governments are key players in ICT capacity building according to delegates at the ITU Global Capacity Building Symposium 2016, which ended yesterday in Nairobi.

Held under the theme: “Embracing capacity building opportunities in the digital era”, the Symposium comprised of ICT Ministers from across the world who discussed objectives and means of ICT capacity building in the digital era.

The ministers used to Kenyan example to emphasize that governments are key players in ICT capacity building. The Kenya government’s support of the Digital Literacy Programme (DLP) the ministers concluded that governments globally should be at the forefront of promotion of digital literacy. The DLP programme targets to deliver over 1.2 million digital learning devices to all Standard One learners in over 22,000 public primary schools is in a move to socialise them to digital learning and introduce them to 21st century skills at an early age.

According to Mr. Francis Wangusi, Director General, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA)  during the opening of the Global ICT Capacity Building Symposium, “In the same vein through partnerships, we have rolled out initiatives that have seen us establish; 16 School-based ICT Centres; 4 Community ICT Centers; 8 ICT Centres in Learning Institutions for Persons with Disabilities; 10 e-Resource Centres in Public Libraries; digitized our Secondary Education curriculum and at the moment.”

Working with Ministry of Education, Kenya’s Communications Authority is also set to to roll out schools broadband connectivity project targeting up to 1000 public schools.

The CA is also about to launch additional 46 e-Resource Centers in public libraries across the country to ICT capacity building amongst some rural and marginalized areas.

Another programme, the Presidential Digital Talent Program (PDTP), an ICT management trainee program aimed at producing quality ICT leaders in public service recruited 400 ICT Management Trainees this year and deployed them in national and county government offices countrywide. Last year PDTP saw 100 Management Trainees get training, 89 of whom completed and are working in both the public and private sectors.

Mr. Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, lauded the programmes saying they are a vital component of Kenya’s human capital strategies.

“The Presidential Digital Talent Program (PDTP) is an ICT management trainee program aimed at producing quality ICT leaders in public service,” he said. “The Digital Literacy Program (DLP) is another key initiative that aims to build 21st century skills amongst primary school students through the use of digital technologies in education. In the long term, it is envisioned that we will have a generation of digitally able youth capable of consuming and developing ICT services and products that meet the needs of the industry and government.”

Several other ministers shared experiences of their countries and emphasized the need for renewal in the delivery of public services and bringing on board young digitally skilled people. They stressed the importance of partnering with the private sector to train public servants. They also urged governments to lead in re-engineering and modernizing government; training decisions makers to build capacity for top-level executives to enable them support digital economy initiatives.

Led by the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya and Ministers, the delegates had very fruitful discussions on a wide range of topics on capacity building in ICTs for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Kenya has taken a bold and deliberate step to roll out digital learning programme in all public primary schools starting from next year.  We believe that this programme will prepare the ground for the next generation of ICT innovators in Kenya,” concluded  Mr. William Samoei Ruto, Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya.

Six Kenyan Startups on HiiL’s 2016 Shortlist for an Innovation Grant of 180,000

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Six representatives from Kenya : Baraza (Family justice category),Famalia (Family justice),KnownAfrique Law App (General Legal Tech),Sauti (SME Empowerment),FarmingBay (SME Empowerment),Uwakili (SME Empowerment) stand a chance to win HiiL’s 2016 innovation grant of 180,510.

Others on this list include Community Legal Supporters for Women in Tanzania’s informal sector, Slumfighters fighters from Rwanda and Uganda’s Bytelex,J2P, Lawyers4Farmers, Puulida, Mobile Legal Aid and Empowering families to access legal justice project . The 36 Semi finalists are from countries across Africa and the Middle East.

Commenting on the shortlist, Wilfried De Weaver, Head of Justice Accelerator congratulated the innovators saying that the justice sector is set to benefit greatly from the efforts of the innovators. “These solutions will impact the justice sector greatly with the citizens and the economy set to reap massively from a better working justice sector.”

The 6 Kenya representatives are expected to pitch during the Nairobi BoostCamp event scheduled for the 23rd of September at the iHub.  Here, a panel of jurists from across business and legal sectors will select the best innovations based on their ability to create impact and sustainability. These will then proceed to pitch at the Innovating Justice event scheduled for December at the Hague Netherlands where the final decision on the grant will be made.

HiiL’s Family Justice Challenge focuses on the promotion of justice solutions that empower and strengthen individuals and family units. The SME Empowerment Challenge is aimed at making it easier for Small and Medium sized Enterprises to start and grow businesses while eliminating justice related barriers that otherwise discourage such growth.

 

Swiftlaw launches to simplify trademark registration & company incorporation in Ghana

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Sam
Sam

Samuel Nablah Baddoo, a former commercial lawyer and his friend Kwei Quaye-Foli, a computer engineer, are building SwiftLaw, an online platform allowing clients in Ghana to incorporate a business and register trademarks online within a week after they came to realities on how cumbersome the process was.

 

“We were quickly welcomed to the realities of doing business and legal practice here .We encountered a terrain which required a bit more patience than we had expected,” the founders said. “Wouldn’t it be easier to take one bite-sized aspect of commercial legal practice such as incorporating a company and simplify that?” And hence Swiftlaw was born as an idea of how to do one thing, more efficient.

 

Samuel, a UK trained lawyer and Kwei, a Computer Science graduate from Ashesi University in Ghana say their company Swiftlaw will end the hassles that made incorporating a company in Ghana a nightmare.

 

“We realized the relative hassle involved in setting up a business, opening company bank accounts, protecting trademarks or registering a company with a public institution can be and we simplified the process,” they say. “Swiftlaw allows you to incorporate a business, register a trademark, register with a public body and even goes a step further to recommend ancillary services that a business may need such as website development or printing of complimentary cards, all by filling out one form on our website.”

 

Kwei
Kwei

The two, who are former schoolmates at  Achimota Secondary School in Ghana, say the Swiftlaw process, developed by a dedicated team of lawyers, laymen and software engineers will make the incorporation process in Ghana simple, cheaper and hassle-free than never before. Recently, Swiftlaw was shortlisted for the SME Empowerment Challenge 2016 an initiative run by HiiL Justice Accelerator together with the Ford Foundation  to promote justice solutions that empower SME’s across Africa.


Swiftlaw also offers discounted rates to start-ups and allows SME’s to register their companies within a week saving them time and money.

To reach more startups and SME’s Swiftlaw  works with Workshed Africa and the Innohub Accelerator, both startup incubators based in Accra, Ghana to help entrepreneurs register their businesses through Company Registration, Bank Account Openings and Company Searches. Swiftlaw also works closely with Ghana’s UK Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry France-Ghana and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce Ghana.

Liquid Telecom Investing KSh54m on a 12.4km network to make Kisumu a ‘Smart City’

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Liquid Telecom is investing KSh54m into a state-of-the-art metro network in Kisumu in partnership with the County government that will increase Internet speeds in the lakeside city ten-fold,  making Kisumu City Kenya’s first “Smart City” in the next two years.

On completion, the 12.4km metro network will cover Kisumu Central Business District, Milimani, Kondele up to Kibos, Kicomi and Migosi Junction. It will be the first step towards transforming Kisumu in to a Smart City, as part of an initiative developed under the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation in Italy last month.

Smart Cities integrate multiple ICT systems to manage a city’s assets, including county government information systems, schools, libraries, transport systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks and waste management. Some of the best known Smart City examples are Vienna, Toronto, Stockholm, Paris, New York, London, Tokyo, Berlin, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Barcelona and Dubai.

“We recognize that technology is a critical enabler that will help make our vision for Kisumu a reality,” said H.E. Jackton Ranguma, the Governor of Kisumu during the ‘Transforming Kisumu: Enabling Technologies for Smart Cities and Resilient Economies workshop at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, Italy in July 2016.

The new metro network from Liquid Telecom Kenya is expected to create an enabling environment towards this transformation to a Smart City, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.

According to the World Bank, for developing countries, a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration leads to a 1.38 per cent in GDP.

As well as residential and business areas, the move will benefit colleges and polytechnics such as the University of Nairobi, Maseno University, the Catholic University of East Africa, Kenya Institute of Management and Kisumu Polytechnic, as well as hospitals such as Aga Khan, Milimani Hospital and Marie Stopes. It will also benefit Kisumu International Airport and hotels in the area.

 

Obama launches Africa’s Promise to empower Africa’s youth with technical & leadership skills

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OBAMA 2In a move to empower African youth with technical and leadership, US President Barack Obama at a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) town hall in Washington, D.C. announced plans to expand opportunities for youth ages 18 to 35 across Africa who are approximately 60 percent of Africa’s total population.

 

“By increasing opportunities for young men and women across Africa to gain important job skills, MCC is supporting and empowering them to build a better tomorrow for their communities,” MCC Chief Executive Officer Dana J. Hyde said. “For Africa to reach its full potential, it will need experienced public sector leaders who can write the next chapter in Africa’s story.”

 

The program dubbed the Africa’s Promise is a new Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) internship initiative under MCC-funded compact programs with a focus on reducing poverty through economic growth. Interns will learn best practices on project management – including financial and public sector management – in the local country context and be exposed to targeted professional development and networking opportunities in both the public and private sectors.

Internships will start in the summer of 2017 in MCC’s respective MCA offices across Africa, which may include countries like Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Morocco, Niger and Zambia. Interns will support the implementation of MCC projects in areas like clean water, electricity, land rights and education. Through its investments, MCC expands access to vital services and connects people to jobs, markets and opportunities.MCC forms partnerships with some of the world’s poorest countries, but only those committed to good governance, economic freedom, and investments in their citizens.

African Union Passport Launched at the AU Summit in Kigali

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passport (1)A month ago, the African Union announced it was set to launch an African Union passport to facilitate the movement of people on the continent and we thought it was taking us for a ride.

Exactly a month later, at the 27th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Kigali Rwanda, the passport was unveiled. H.E. Mr. Idriss Deby Itno, Chairperson of the AU and President of the Republic of Chad, and President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda received the first passports handed to them by the Chairperson of the AU Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

“I feel deeply and proudly a true son of Africa after receiving this passport”, said President Idriss Deby while stressing the importance of fast tracking integration on the continent to achieve socio-economic growth for the wellbeing of the African citizens.

Several African countries have restrictions  against each other’s citizens thereby stifling trade and investments internally and externally. The passport will help break the growing protectionism, open up markets beyond regional trading blocks and neighbours.

 

The AU Chairperson H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma noted that the Africa we have today is full of hope, possibility and optimism, but is also a cause of anguish in some areas, where Africans are desperately yearning for peace and the space to rebuild their lives.

“In our years of service to the AU Member States and to the Peoples of Africa, we built on the foundations of those that went before us, to build a Union of the People by engaging with the civil society and the citizens. We worked tirelessly to ensure that we leave institutions more effective than what we found. This work is not yet complete, and in our handover to the incoming Commission once elected, we shall highlight both the achievements and the challenges still remaining.”

There’s no evidence that local passports will be phased out. If they do; users will have to wait longer for the passports awaiting all the AU member presidents to be given their pairs even if they might never use them.

Fred Swaniker Launches ALU School of Business To Reinvent Entrepreneurship in Africa

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ALU Founder Fred Swaniker Speaks at PopTech Conference
ALU Founder Fred Swaniker Speaks at PopTech Conference

African Leadership University (ALU) founder, Fred Swaniker has launched the ALU School of Business to help African entrepreneurs think big and drive change in Africa and fill the continent’s huge demand for skilled technocrats and leaders.

The ALU MBA has been designed based on what Swaniker says African Leadership Group does best-developing students as leaders and not just focusing on business theory.

“But let me warn you: this program is not for everybodyIt’s for the mavericks, the risk-takers and those who aim to change the world by going beyond the ordinary,” says the serial entrepreneur and leadership coach.”We also designed it to be far more relevant to Africa.”

The part-time MBA costs $15,000 per annum and leverages on the curricula from Harvard Business School’s HBX program, Wharton, McKinsey Academy, and the Drucker Institute. Swaniker says the program is delivered by professors like Catherine Duggan, an award-winning professor from Harvard Business School, who is also the Vice Dean. There is also an A-list of African CEO‘s who will serve as adjunct faculty.

“We’ve designed our application process to give you a taste of our curriculum, so the worst case is that you’ll learn something that you can apply immediately at work. I know this for a fact because a key turning point in my own career was when I went to Stanford University to do my MBA. It was an amazing two years, during which I was able to flesh out my entrepreneurial ideas (I wrote the plan for the African Leadership Academy there), enhance my business acumen and grow as a leader,” he says.

There has been an outcry about the huge skills gap in business schools across Africa. Swaniker thinks her can solve this with the Kigali, Rwanda-based ALU MBA.

“Over the years, I’ve wondered what it would take for Africa’s rising business leaders to get such world-class training. Because let’s face it, for the vast majority of Africans, schools like Stanford are out of reach due to the following three elements,” he says, citing the huge $200,000 tuition fees as an impediment to many.

Apply here.