The motor­cy­cle indus­try in Kenya is in trou­ble. Here is why. In the last sev­er­al months, motor­cy­cle sales have plunged by a stag­ger­ing 75%. With­out doubt, the lin­ger­ing effects of the Coro­na pan­dem­ic are still depress­ing the econ­o­my and affect­ing busi­ness. Addi­tion­al­ly, one of the major rea­sons has been the inef­fi­cient Nation­al Trans­port and Safe­ty Author­i­ty (NTSA) elec­tron­ic ser­vice por­tal. Sub­se­quent­ly assem­blers are expe­ri­enc­ing a myr­i­ad of motor­cy­cle reg­is­tra­tion chal­lenges. This has result­ed to cash­flow chal­lenges, Unfore­seen law­suits due to delayed trans­fer of asset own­er­ship and in real­i­ty loss of liveli­hoods to thou­sands of Kenyans because every delayed bike sale is a poten­tial Boda Boda job opportunity.

A few days ago, a cri­sis meet­ing was held between The CS of Trade and Indus­tri­al­iza­tion Madam Bet­ty Maina, Hon­da Head of Oper­a­tions for Europe, Africa and Mid­dle East, Motor­cy­cle Assem­blers Asso­ci­a­tion of Kenya (MAAK) and NTSA among oth­ers. Dur­ing the meet­ing, we clear­ly spot­light­ed some key inef­fi­cien­cies that have a direct cor­re­la­tion with the plunge in motor­cy­cle sales. Thank­ful­ly to great lead­er­ship of the CS and The Direc­tor Gen­er­al of NTSA a Rapid Response Ini­tia­tive was agreed upon and dead­lines pinned.

We appre­ci­ate that any sys­tem can face oper­a­tional chal­lenges. How­ev­er, the fact that NTSA acknowl­edged the chal­lenges and revert­ed ask­ing us to use their sys­tem dur­ing off peak hours mean­ing night­time and ear­ly morn­ing it means that the prob­lem is far beyond NTSA. There seems to be a sys­temic fail­ure bedev­il­ing Gov­ern­ment online platforms.

E‑citizen, which is the online gate­way to all gov­ern­ment ser­vices has been expe­ri­enc­ing numer­ous ser­vice out­ages. Dur­ing these peri­ods, log­ging into the plat­form takes extend­ed peri­ods, adverse­ly affect­ing crit­i­cal ser­vices like issuance of pass­ports and work permits.

Bank­ing sys­tems are also strug­gling. One of the largest banks in Kenya expe­ri­enced a sys­tem out­age for close to a week. Such out­ages have neg­a­tive impacts on busi­ness­es and peo­ple. Inter­est­ing­ly, the Bank­ing net­work relies on the Inte­grat­ed pop­u­la­tion Reg­is­tra­tion Sys­tem (IPRS), which is con­nect­ed to the Nation­al Reg­is­tra­tion Bureau (NRB).

The IPRS was launched in March 2015 to man­age cred­i­ble data which was not­ed to be crit­i­cal for devel­op­ment and indis­pens­able for plan­ning and deliv­ery of pub­lic ser­vices. Accord­ing­ly, pub­lic ser­vices rely heav­i­ly on this platform.

This brings me to the all-impor­tant mat­ter of nation­al elec­tions. There is an ongo­ing vot­er iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tus­sle between polit­i­cal par­ties and the Inde­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion (IEBC) on whether to use man­u­al or elec­tron­ic reg­is­ter to iden­ti­fy the 22.1 mil­lion vot­ers that are eli­gi­ble to vote.

IEBC’s Elec­tron­ic Vot­er Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Sys­tem (EVID) helps in iden­ti­fy­ing vot­ers. If com­pro­mised, this sys­tem can end up ‘iden­ti­fy­ing’ dead vot­ers as actu­al vot­ers. It can also ‘iden­ti­fy’ uncol­lect­ed IDs and deploy them to vote one way or anoth­er. Indeed, all dig­i­tal sys­tems can be com­pro­mised so that they can behave one way or anoth­er. That is what com­put­er virus­es do to our computers.

For­tu­nate­ly, we have a three-step oppor­tu­ni­ty to instill integri­ty into our nation­al elec­tron­ic plat­forms to ensure a vibrant democ­ra­cy and the sus­tain­able devel­op­ment that accom­pa­nies it.

First­ly, all pend­ing back­log on NTSA, eCit­i­zen, all pub­lic por­tals and IPRS must be updat­ed to allay unnec­es­sary fears and busi­ness suffering.

Sec­ond­ly, I sug­gest that IEBC imme­di­ate­ly dis­clos­es an author­i­ta­tive man­u­al vot­ers reg­is­ter to polit­i­cal par­ties so that they can inde­pen­dent­ly ver­i­fy its accu­ra­cy and authen­tic­i­ty.  Fur­ther, polit­i­cal par­ties ought to be sup­port­ed to estab­lish inde­pen­dent tal­ly­ing centers.

Third­ly, I sug­gest that the NRB urgent­ly dis­clos­es all uncol­lect­ed Nation­al IDs per ward. Sim­i­lar­ly, the Min­istry of Immi­gra­tion should dis­close the num­ber of uncol­lect­ed passports.

These can only hap­pen for com­mon good once we think and act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors


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