A few days ago, a couple of Kenyan MPs decided to award themselves a very hefty severance pay of about 2billion KES. Its a long story but i decided to highlight a few of those to just see what they have done for their constituents to deserve any of this. Please note that no matter the results, no one deserves to put this kind of burden on the tax payer!
I did this visual on Google earth with a google tour in addition to the screenshots.
Click on the MP link to learn more about them, information thanks to Mzalendo watch.
Note that the underlaying map that is courtesy of Virtual Kenya shows the population concentration in the constituencies,
the darker the more the lighter the less populated the constituency is.
Wajir West – MP Adan Keynan
Kilgoris – MP Gideon Konchella
Kipipiri – MP Amos Kimunya
Turkana Central – MP Ekwee Ethuro
Ndia – MP Robinson Githae
Yatta – MP Charles Kilonzo
At the beginning on the inception of the Kenya Open Data Initiative, i prepared a simple video of the then newly constituted counties, mashing it up with other datasets all from what we were putting together for the launch. I used this to state a case to the stakeholders on what is possible with Open data and why its so important to have this data out for easy visualization. I thought this would be a great resource to share. Enjoy!
The weather has been great in Finland for the one week i have been, attending the Open Knowledge Foundation Festival #OKFest. I have met many great faces in the world of Open Data and Open Governance.
A lot has been discussed, very amazing visualizations, cool gadgets, people, platforms et al. This, though, had me thinking of the real impact of a lot of discussions that are going on.
Open data is really for the citizen. Forget the NET-izen, these represent a very small percentage of the real impact that needs to be created with/by opening up data (not just government data but data in general).
The contribution towards the success of open data is a partnership of various users and key in that partnership are the Citizens, Government, Private sector and Civil Society.
There have been a lot of campaigns and calls on governments to open up data and now over the past year, a lot more governments have opened up. Not all, but those that have bring about a clear great step forward. The question now is, what next? In my opinion, a lot more effort needs to be put in to create more use of the data but most importantly to involve the common citizen, the little guy that does not care about technology, or the idea of raw data, or fancy gadgets but, the guy that needs to know why things happen the way they do, why his crops are not doing well or why her children’s education is not improving, why the market rates are expected to rise/fall and maybe what the impact of the government’s budget process has been over the years.
There are many recommendations to what needs to happen but on this specific post i will focus more on the Media as the channel that can make this happen.
Open Data is a collection of juggled up facts that may affect everyone in no particular order. Through the decades, the media has been the source of “Truth”. All media put together (this is not proven but you would think) has 98%+ reach to the people. Is it possible to work with media to use Open Data to deliver messages (and by extension the released data) to the general public?
There are very few people with access to computers. A lot of other people have access to the mobile phone device but very few (if any) studies have shown how many people have the actual phone literacy that goes beyond green and red buttons to start and end calls.How much more interest do they have to go beyond?
Through traditional media (Radio, TV and Newspapers) that still commands a very big percentage in market share, Open Data projects can reach out to more people in a language that they understand and in a channel that is already available to them.
Training and encouraging journalists to do data based journalism and using easy to understand visuals in their reporting to avoid all the jarnon
When i get back home, this is going to be the mission of the Kenya Open Data project for the remainder of the year. Interpreting Open Data into a format that is more relevant and reaching out to the common citizen.
i know its been a while since i last posted on my blog. Its been a crazy past couple of months.
Moving forward, i have decided to pick on a new style of blogging where i will be using actual visuals from analysed data to compare occurences.
My main source will of cause be the Kenya Open Data (opendata.go.ke) portal and any other dataset that i come across.
Ill try to make at least weekly entries.
Thanks again for keeping it locked
Several years ago, a friend told me, the very wealthy people do not walk around with cash. Most walk with wallets full of Gold, Platinum and Silver Cards. Then i did not believe him. Now i have a Beba card
These past few weeks have proved to me that you can actually save money when using cards more than cash at most points. In my previous post about my trip to Brazil, one of the things i picked from there was the card based economy.
This week, i have been very excited about the new entrant to my card-full life, the BEBA card.
This is a transit card based on the Near field communication (NFC) technology that has been introduced by google (yes, i only got to know that when i read the terms and conditions (i am impressed)). The way this card works is, you get a free card from one of the many agents in designated locations and top up from between KES 200- KES 10,000 (a minimum of about $90) and every time you travel by the Citi Hoppa Bus, the conductor uses the NFC device to charge you. The most impressive part of this technology is its integration with M-PESA for refunds (although they need to work on the debiting too) and that then you get an SMS confirmation receipt. How about that to saving trees!
Each user has an online profile that is accessible by a gmail account to check the remaining balance and to track the transit trends. Now speak of Big Data in the making.
Unfortunately, in my excitements of being billed on my Beba Card, I still have my credit intact, there are a few things about the Beba card:
- It is also affected by the “weather changes and traffic conditions.” Matatu touts are notorious for changing travel pricing according to the weather conditions. This card unfortunately does not protect a user against these harsh conditions. The NFC device allows the tout to indicate what price they want to charge.
- The users have to register using GMail email address. Now for those stuck in the yahoo age, you know what i mean. The NFC devices are android phones, yes i took time to look around.
- The distribution and use of the NFC devices is not very well managed and as a result, I got a free ride this morning because the agent told me if the conductor does not have the device, i just dont pay. Ok, that is a plus for me as i really save money but its not a sustainable model for business. The buses that should accept a beba card have a sign that shows they do.
While in UK, I used the Oyster Card
and from my UK visit Post, a reader Posted this Useful comment:
Kenton: “The Oyster card system uses NFC technology by MIFARE, the first time I saw this system was in Hong Kong in 2001, my friend had the NFC transit chip inside his Swatch-branded watch. Amazing for its day. My favourite part of Oyster is that once I’ve registered it online and linked it to my credit card, it tops up the balance automatically whenever it gets low, so I never have to remember to top it up nor queue at the ticket office to do so – and if I lose it, I get the card replaced and keep the balance. Not sure where you saw the QR code – if on an overground train, it’s by a company called Masabi but it’s actually not a QR code, it’s a different type of 2D barcode because it’s easier to read quickly at the barriers than QR codes.”
My recommendations are to use a system like what has been implemented by the Double M buses
where they have fixed pricing for different locations, according to distance, rain or shine. Something other operators have really not tried at all to implement.
All in all, thumbs up to google and whoever brought this smart idea into the market, we are not there but we are looking at the right direction. Keep walking
Last week i was in UK, at the University of Cambridge, Judge School of Business as a keynote speaker at the Cambridge Business in Africa Network.
This was an event organized, mostly by African Students studying in Cambridge and the idea was to discuss “Unlocking Value in Frontier Africa” and how new investors can find a market in Africa and also identifying the opportunities that exist, the political environment and availability of manpower.
This was my first time to use the tube. I needed to break off my tourist habits of using taxis. It was scary having to figure the way around on my own but by the fact that this post is up, means i made it
On the front page of the Kenyan plan Vision2030 is a very pretty underground train which to be honest after this experience i cant wait to have in place. The tube is one of the most effective systems i have ever used in my life, next to a few things that i will name once i remember them.
I got myself an Oyster card that allows you to simply top up and be on the move. It is a cashless transit plan where you pay for all transit upfront and there are also systems in place to ensure than only legit card holders use the system.
Maps detailing the transit journeys are also provided at the terminals so you are sure to get lost at your own fault.
The infrastructure looked a little complex but i also appreciate that it was never built in a day.
The most amazing thing for me was the fact that someone actually presented a QR code in place of a card. Ok, what is my excitement here? I am a techie and should not have accepted any less but HEY! That is precisely it, the fact that technology has been easily adopted and integrated into the public systems.
Well going back to the agenda of the event and just a little of it, most of the attending crowd was female, most of the students were also from west Africa, so were most of the invited and attending guests with people like H.E Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria. In attendance was also Dr. Guy Scott, the Vice president of Zambia among many other CEOs, Mds and entrepreneurs from other parts of Africa.
Now, I wish events like these would actually be held in Africa but again, I wish events like this would be held by African Universities. Frequently. Invite top delegates, people who have a deep rooted business understanding, leaders of nations, and top market players. People who can open or spark the thinking at student level.
Now most might think this should be a Universities led initiative but i disagree. As i said, this was actually organized by Masters and PHD students. Well most cases, these classes are busy with their day jobs and only a few hours in the night for studies with a family to back home to. Its all about sacrifice my friends.
All in all, i also enjoyed London, a very beautiful city with lots to offer and to see. I was here on tourist status so i am not very entitled to keep typing…
Last week I was in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) an event that saw the government of Kenya make clear its commitments to honoring the OGP guidelines of:
- Citizen engagement
- Government accountability.
Apart from this very exciting event, as usual i was on my fact finding mission of Africa development and of cause trying to identify what the other countries are doing right.
For one, Brazil is a super planned city. It is originally planned in the shape of a plane, where each wing, head, body, tail are sectors allocated different roles; Residency areas, government offices, hotels, shopping areas etc.
More than 50 years down the line, Brasilia is still very clean and what was most amazing for me is the fact that traffic rules are followed to the latter. The meters rule of vehicle driving distance is adhered to the latter, time keeping of opening and closing of premises is also highly regarded.
Now, please note that this article is not meant to be a pity party and hence will not make it such but it is a real lessons learnt kind of thinking. That said;
The taxis are fitted with meter systems meaning that you pay per distance covered and hence indicators like relation to the driver, bargaining power of the pedestrian, traffic and weather conditions do not come to play. The other country i visited with this was Egypt. This is a very effective system as it ensures that no there are set standards beyond the taxi yellow lines.
Brazil is greatly a “card economy.” Credit cards, debit cards are a norm; well at least for most (about 99%) of the places i visited, fast food joints included. Ill write a separate post on the benefits of a card against cash economy but just to quote a speaker from a conference, “Kenya must be the only place you go outside, withdraw cash from the ATM and go inside to use it at the Supermarket”
Customer service despite race, color or age was fantastic. Ok this might be a skewed observation as everything about me said “not local” but i still did take a back seat and observe so i might not be very far off.
Coming from Kenya, we all know of the Maasai Market at major shopping malls where authentic Kenyan ware and art is sold. I tried to find a “Brazilian market” and each time i was let to a big mall. This is when i realized that Brazil manufactures most of its wares and with a market big enough to create the demand, they hardly need to export or import most of the other labels that we are more familiar with.
Another example around this was at our layover in South Africa where visiting most of the bookshops at the airport, well probably over 60% of the books that really interested me were by South African Authors or were about South Africans. Thambo Mbeki, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Rev. Desmond Tutu etc
Well i could go on and on but this is just a snap shot of the things that really caught my eye in my limited 3 day stay but that i think would be very crucial for Africa if implemented and followed to the later.
If only I was President of Africa..
The other day, at the Connected Kenya Summit, I was sitting right next to my boss as they were awarding outstanding application developers who have worked towards vision 2030.
Being a first timer at the summit, I asked my boss a question and i was wondering, how far have the applications that were recognized last year gone?
Over the years, there have been discussions around upcoming startups and how they should be supported. A crop of venture capitalists is growing fast, the Kenya ICT Board gives Tandaa grants to help startups scale, google is giving, microsoft etc etc.
One of the biggest problems i have had so far is the fact that some startups are making application development a revenue generating model. Some have these exact statements in their business proposals. We have seen the same startps rewarded on the same products over the years while we still have upcoming startups that could do with the funding and this sets me asking, in three years if this startup is still asking for the same amount of funding, is this not a warning sign to the investor about the profitability of the company?
The bigger problem is the fact that funding applications development is becoming this bottomless pit that has a lot of money invested in and no actual scaling up or implementation of these applications. And by scaling i mostly mean out of Nairobi. Kenya, Africa is such a wide terrain..
Well from my computer science class, in system development:
Implementation is a very key stage in development. From my experience, most application developers only go through the first 2 stages and halfway through the third stage and go right back up. Very few get through to the testing stage (those that have, sources say they went way over the time frames to get there) Well, Evaluation is still a glittering star.
I am starting to develop fear that we are going to end up in a lot of application clutter, where we have so many applications that are not very useful to anyone, at least not even for the programmer after funding.
I have been talking to a few people about potential chances of having an applications recycle campaign because there are so many applications out there that could be reused to serve the same purposes without having to reinvent the wheel.
For the people giving funds, i would very much love to see an impact analysis kind of model that follows up at given time frames to ensure that the applications funded are those that have an actual impact to the target group and that there is some sought of implementation, testing and actual evaluation.
but again, this is just my 2 cents
First of all, i want to use this post to say, Happy Birthday to Me. Yes, i am old and wrinkly today, at 24 but going strong
Sitting here at the Connected Kenya Conference in Diani, i have learnt quite a lot from all the speakers thus far but the most interesting i could say in this context is the presentation from Mr. Richard Lesiyape, the CEO of Kenyatta National Hospital, the largest refferal hospital in East and Central hospital with a bed capacity of about 2,500 patients.
Straight to the points that he mentioned that were of interest, i mentioned in a previous post that a little bird told me that KNH destroy medical records every 5 years. From his speech, i am glad to report that the hospital is being supported by Rockerfeller to digitize 4 million records of the 40 million that they have.
One of the most interesting things that Richard said was on mortality rates for a few select countries and Kenya has 44/1000 while Japan has a mortality rate of 2/1000. That is not the interesting part. The eye drawer is the fact that he attributed Japan’s success to their embracing technology in health and the connectivity that has been developed their hospitals. To mention is the fact that he said it is sad that no Africa country has made it to the cut of top 200 hospitals in the country.
Big data in the medical fraternity is growing quite fast especially with Richard confessing that before most patients visit hospitals, they google what they are ailing from and potential remedies for their ailments. The information is already out there and no condition is unique.
In a previous post as well, i talked about the disconnect in the data processes that exist in the country and looks like KNH is already taking the right step forward, working with organizations like the ICT Board to come up with a Unique Patient Reference Number which will be used across all hospitals to make sure that patient records are cordinated and that the patient data shadows can be developed. I am hopeful then that the insurance companies will be able to tap into this to avoid the losses that i highlighted in a previous post.
In conclusion, it is encouraging to see that the hospital, through its top most management has seen the value of technology and data as part of an organization’s core competence. This said, they are already working with organizations that will help them move forward with this role into’ “puting Kenyan Medi-care on the graph.”