The SmartGov Summit, a highly anticipated event, kicked off Thursday providing the stage for experts drawn from diverse backgrounds to discuss the latest trends, technologies, and practices in the use of technology in government.
The first panel discussion “Agile Government: Adapting to Rapid Technological Changes and Evolving Citizen Expectations brought together experts from diverse backgrounds to dissect the key components of agile government and how it plays a pivotal role in meeting the evolving expectations of citizens.
The panel discussion was moderated by Andrew Lewela, CEO of Kenic, and featured prominent figures in the tech and government sectors, including Phyllis Migwi, Country Manager at Microsoft; Susan Waweru, Head of Legal at Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC); and Olutomi Olutola, Senior Connectivity & Digital Advisor for Africa at USAID.
Agility in government, as discussed during the session, is synonymous with adaptability. It is the government’s ability to respond swiftly and effectively to citizens’ needs, especially in terms of service delivery. At its core, agility places the creation of public value at the heart of government operations.
The panellists cited several nations, including Kenya, Rwanda, Ukraine, and Estonia, as exemplary models of governments that have developed digital services with citizens firmly in mind. These countries have not only embraced technological innovations but have also streamlined their services to meet the ever-evolving demands of their constituents.
Phyllis Migwi emphasized the importance of having a strong foundation and methodology to anticipate and address challenges in agile governance. She illustrated this point with the example of the Kenyan Judiciary’s ability to continue providing services during the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Kenya’s judiciary’s success stemmed from its technological foundation and effective utilization of available tools and resources”.
For an agile government to thrive, the experts highlighted several critical factors:
- Strategy: Phyllis emphasized the need for an overarching strategy that defines the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders in citizen service delivery. This strategy should encompass infrastructure development and foster collaboration among various government entities. A shared understanding of the benefits and incentives for each party is crucial to avoid stifling agility.
- Data Classification: Phyllis highlighted that proper data classification is essential for ensuring security, privacy, and fostering innovation. “Not all data should be classified as sensitive, allowing room for creative and innovative solutions”.
- Legislative Framework: Susan Waweru underscored the necessity for a paradigm shift in policy drafting. To promote agility and collaboration, governments must reconsider laws that may hinder such initiatives. Collaborative frameworks should be integrated into the legislative process.
- Data Security and Privacy: The panellists stressed that data protection laws should complement innovation rather than stifle it. Human-centric innovation should be at the forefront, ensuring that governments protect the privacy of their citizens while fostering technological progress.
- Digital Skilling: Olutomi Olutola urged governments to prioritize digital skilling, research and development, and engagement with users. Ensuring that citizens have the necessary digital skills and access to connectivity is crucial. Digital skilling should be integrated into the education system to empower individuals to utilize digital tools effectively.
The SmartGov Summit set the stage for a forward-thinking dialogue on how governments can harness agility to meet the changing expectations of their citizens. As technology continues to advance, the need for governments to adapt and innovate in their service delivery becomes increasingly paramount.