The just concluded Buntwani 2014 Conference which brought together stakeholders in citizen engagement was a tremendous success!

Government officials (from both the national and county governments), members of civil society organisations (CSOs) and academia, technologists and donors converged at the Kenya School of Government on the 7th and 8th October 2014 to share knowledge, insights and experiences on the conference’s key theme:“The Potential of ICT in Strengthening Citizen Engagement and Participation in Africa”.

In organising the Buntwani conference we aimed for it to be a conversation starter and facilitator among various stakeholders. It was also an opportunity for technologists and CSOs to showcase the innovations that work and for participants to explore the strategies that make them work.

On the first day of the conference, Mr Thenya Muchiri, Director for Administration delivered a speech on behalf of Ms Anne Waiguru, the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Devolution and Planning. In the speech, Ms Waiguru lauded the initiative taken by Open Institute and Techsoup Global in organising the conference. She pointed to initiatives like the Huduma initiative and the ecitizen.go.ke portal, affirming that the government was committed to transparency and strengthening citizen engagement.

Other noted guests from the government included Victor Kyalo, the CEO of the Kenya ICT Authority, who discussed the place of innovation in government and Member of Parliament for Kibra Hon. Kenneth Okoth who noted the importance of such initiatives as Mzalendo in strengthening legislative awareness and citizen engagement in Kenya. Chief Kariuki of Lanet Umoja in Nakuru County also attended and spoke at Buntwani, inspiring many who were present and those following online. To support the work he is doing in Lanet Umoja, TechSoup Africa have donated a laptop for his work.

From the civil society, Wanjiru Gikonyo, the Executive Director of The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA) led discussions on the opportunities for citizen engagement in the Kenyan context and this discussion was further bolstered by John Smith-Sreen (USAID Kenya), Chris Finch (World Bank) and Martin Napisa of the National Tax Payers Association among other participants.

There were a variety of highlights to the conference. The delegates were very engaged and contributed unique insights on ICT in strengthening citizen engagement, actively engaged on Twitter using the hashtags #Buntwani, #CitizenEngagement, #CitizenParticipation and #OpenData. By our count, over 2,400 tweets were sent by over 300 users on Buntwani.

Other articles about Buntwani

  1. Mzalendo: Public participation in governance and the place of mobile and web tools – http://www.mzalendo.com/blog/2014/10/10/public-participation-in-governance-and-the-place-of-mobile-and-web-tools/
  2. Ole-Shitemi: Leveraging on technology for better citizen engagement and participation useful for our growing democracy – http://www.shitemi.com/politics/leveraging-on-technology-for-better-citizen-engagement-and-participation-useful-for-our-growing-democracy/
  3. ICT Authority: Buntwani Conference at the Kenya School of Government – http://www.icta.go.ke/buntwani-conference-kenya-school-government/
  4. Open Data Research Network: Placing lessons from the ODDC research at the heart of the data revolution debate – http://opendataresearch.org/content/2014/737/placing-lessons-oddc-research-heart-data-revolution-debate

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