Kenya's legislators have surprisingly added their voice in support of the transformation to electronic governance in their operations, both within parliament and in at the constituency level. During a two-day meeting held in Nairobi recently, the members of parliament (MPs) discussed various issues related to Kenya Information Society including e-government and ICT strategies in the country and what should be the role of parliamentarians in the process of implementation and monitoring.

The meeting with theme: "Empowering Kenya's MPs and National Assembly staff on Building the country's Knowledge Economy," was organised by the UN's Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Canadian e-Policy Resource Network (ePolNet). e-PolNet aims at supporting the implementation of the African Information Society through the provision of various kinds of expertise.

The participants, who included 15 MPs, discussed how ICTs can accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and various applications like e-health, e-learning, e-commerce and open platform.

This is in response to the eighth goal of MDGs, declared during the UN's Millennium Declaration in 2000, which aims to develop a global partnership for development (including a target to make available the benefits of ICTs to all the world's inhabitants). The participants resolved that there is need to take advantage of the on-going restructuring of all parliamentary committees in order to have ICT either accommodated in one of the committees or set up an independent committee on the subject.

In his opening address, Mathioya MP, Joseph Kamotho, said that through the use of ICT, governments become less bureaucratic, and more efficient. "With deployment of ICTs, several opportunities that corrupt public officials normally use for their private gain are eliminated or greatly reduced therefore increasing transparency and accountability in the management of public resources," said Kamotho.

Kamotho said that governments in Africa must, therefore, invest in ICT so that the public is able to monitor the performance of their representatives through the establishment of websites where citizens can get information about their institution, leaders and the laws made.

On electoral processes, participants gave the example of Zambia where the voters register bears the holder's photo to stem vote rigging.

East African Business Week