The world today is changing and by far, the most dramatic shifts are taking place in technology, digitisation and science where the disruption is exponential. Public sector organisations providing crucial services to the public have a critical role to play in balancing the opportunities created by disruption and threats created by the very enablers of these opportunities. Public sector organisational readiness is important for effective regulation, service delivery and governance. Public sector organisations need to evolve the regulatory framework they control to ensure they are as flexible as possible and establishing clear “red lines” that cannot be crossed, but within which there is flexibility and multiple ways for stakeholders to interact. It should be a principle-based as opposed to a rules-based environment ensuring that adaptability is factored into these principles.

Since innovation is key to fostering citizen centric service delivery, public sector organisations would need to build the right ecosystems and environments, both within and across the partners, suppliers, citizen groups and other government and public sector bodies they interact with. Good governance is a key priority for these organisations and should be translated into principles that ensure there is citizen centricity and whether regulation ultimately protects and serves the citizens as opposed to any interest group, and that there is constant transparency, accountability and consistency with other applicable principle-based parameters.

The “Internet of Things” impacts the lives of citizens in Kenya from a public service delivery point of view. As more and more data becomes available, businesses and governments are coming up with new ways of acquiring, organising, analysing and visualising it in greater levels of complexity. At its full potential, Big Data promises real-time access and analysis across structured and unstructured data sets including text, images, audio, video, graphs and others. Combine this with the algorithmic power of machine learning and data analytics and the possibilities are endless.

For the public sector organisations, the application of Big Data in decision making include:

There is a role for Public Private Partnerships but I believe this concept requires a rethink especially in this day and age of technological advancement. Partnerships need not be about what one side gets versus the other side, but in terms of what the overall problem we are trying to solve together is and what each party brings to the table to find a common solution.

Whereas PPPs have in the past been built around allocating the larger risk or burden to the public side, times are changing and leveraging on data collected by government has proven a major success in the way private sector is able to contribute to economic development and better service offering to citizens.

Data sharing has been witnessed typically in healthcare, policing, education planning, and provision of government services like the ‘Huduma’ services initiative in Kenya. PPPs will allow for public sector organisations to be prepared for further disruption and poise them to update either the relevant regulations, legal framework or service delivery.

A successful model would be where public sector develops regulations with industry input in the spirit of setting standards that elevate quality and reduce costs for the private sector thus enhancing the citizen’s experience. Completion of projects is paramount for any real benefit to be derived out of these PPPs and all involved stakeholders must be held accountable for successful execution.

There has been a decline of public trust in public sector institutions and in technology due to factors such as:

  • Devaluing of institutions and corrosive effects of corruption
  • Increasing concern about personal and digital security especially as more government services are procured centrally
  • Tribalism and distrust of those outside identity group
  • Harder to make meaningful change due to rising skepticism

In the meantime, there has been continued debate on ‘truth’ in the public domain. Kenya, for example, has been proactive in ensuring the protection of its citizens in the cyber space is paramount through tangible initiatives such as:

  • The setting up of a taskforce on Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies: This task force will study the benefits and challenges associated with the latest digital innovation trends.
  • Data Protection Bill, 2018: The bill is in the final stages of enactment
  • Public Health: Detecting spread of outbreaks by monitoring social media data
  • Transportation: Optimisation of traffic routes and traffic lights through real-time geolocation data
  • Monitoring of online activity: For instance, use of online channels versus conventional for government agency transaction processing
  • Public safety in SMART Cities: Large volumes of data available from sensors, social media and emergency calls can be combined to provide effective public safety
  • Law enforcement: Predictive policing using historical data to automatically discover trends and patterns and proposes establishment of the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner to enforce safe handling of data.
  • Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018: The Bill has been enacted, and establishes the National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee, which facilitates international co-operation in dealing with computer and cybercrime matters.
  • Implementation of the National Information Security Programme: The Government plans on enhancing network security, implementing security policies and deploying firewalls, developing and implementing security framework of the entire Government cloud and establishing of the Cybersecurity Research Institute.

A successful government reaches out to the citizens rather than wait for them to come to it.

Benson Okundi

Partner, Head of Government &

Public Sector Services - PwC East Africa Region

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