The Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) has expressed the need to have efficient and robust e-government systems to ensure effective service delivery and as a key enabler of the built environment.
AAK President Wilson Mugambi stressed the need for the national and county governments to improve the existing systems and fully automate other government services and systems in order to achieve sustainable development.
Speaking during this year’s annual convection in Mombasa, Mugambi said that as per the theme of the convection ‘a holistic approach to urban governance’, key issues within the built environment must be discussed and highlighted so as to provide actionable and practical solutions that could be adopted.
“The themes to be addressed in these discussions shall give an insight into how government stakeholders decide how to plan, finance and manage urban areas; since urban governance is a continuous process of negotiation and contestation over allocation of social and material resources and political power,” he said.
Mugambi pinpointed key challenges that were currently being faced by the built environment professionals and developers including inefficiencies, frequent downtimes, and delays which forced them to visit county offices to follow up on approvals.
“In 2004, the government launched the Kenya e-government strategy which was aimed at enabling access to information and services effectively and efficiently. Eighteen years later, this is far from being achieved. The process of obtaining construction permits for instance has seen only six counties developing e-permitting systems to improve the efficacy of development control in the counties,” he said.
“These challenges have become precursors for issuance of false permits by quacks and fraudulent professionals, thereby resulting in the construction of unsafe and illegal structures,” added Mugambi.
He referenced the e-citizen platform as a sound basis that could be used for comparison as a perfect working government system. Further to this, he stressed that the portals should also enable multiparty collaboration by linking all the construction permitting agencies on the platforms.
“Having a one-stop-shop for all related agencies will facilitate a faster flow of development applications and optimize customer service while making the process less bureaucratic,” he said.
In his recorded speech, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana highlighted statistics on a UN report that predicts that Africa’s population of over 1.3 billion would more than double in number by the year 2050 and 80 percent of those would be in cities, particularly in the slums.
“Kenya has been pinpointed as one of Africa’s fastest growing cities whose population has doubled over the last 25 years. It has been estimated that over the next 40 years, Kenya’s population will grow by 1 million every year which translates to 3,000 people every day and about 22 people every hour. In fact by 2058 we will have about 100 million people in our country,” said Kibwana.
The governor observed that the effects of urbanization were now being felt with most pressure to provide basic services and infrastructure to areas that a few years ago were considered as the hinterland.
He stressed the need to think sustainably while planning for the growth of urban areas.
“The sustainability of our urban areas therefore can only be realized through a shared dream by all stakeholders but the professionals like you must play a key role,” urged the governor.