Kenyan tech development held back by corruption - Ndemo

By Tom Jackson

Kenya’s development as a tech hub in East Africa is being held back by corruption and “tender-preneurs” who take advantage of lax procurement regulation, according to Dr Bitange Ndemo, former permanent secretary at the Ministry of ICT.

Ndemo, who was in office until 2013 and has since returned to work at the University of Nairobi, told the Connected East Africa conference in Diani, Kenya last week the government was working to transform the country by digitising and automating service delivery.

However, he said the government was being hindered in executing, in spite of the creation of the ICT Board (now the ICT Authority), and a number of public-private partnerships (PPPs), as a result of corruption behind the scenes.

A number of government policies have been set back by alleged procurement irregularities, most notably the Jubilee government’s flagship laptops for schools programme, with President Uhuru Kenyatta making use of a digital procurement platform compulsory for ministries in a bid to limit graft.

“I hope, and I pray, that this anti-corruption process at the moment reveals the true “tender-preneurs”,” Ndemo said.

“Because the problem is in the procurement law and the PPP law. We have super wheeler dealers behind and then you are the one that gets in trouble. But if they were to decide to work for the people then Kenya would be developed in one year. Because they can execute.”

He said the country has a serious problem in this regard, but said he was hopeful it was being addressed.

“We have a serious problem but I think the president has begun to do the right thing, and hopefully we can get to where we want to be,” he said.

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