Dr. Bitange Ndemo
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication
Inter-ministerial coordination, Corruption in the Civil Service, Computerization of Records
Corruption, Public Relations, Capacity Building, Computerization, Technical Assistance,
Mon Jun 18 2012
In these two interviews, Dr. Bitange Ndemo discusses his experience as the Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communication. Dr. Ndemo begins by outlining the priorities he set for his office upon appointment to his position of Permanent Secretary. In one of his primary initiatives, he overcame challenges to give Kenya access to fiber optic cables that enhanced Internet infrastructure within the country. Next, he began pushing for digitized data within the government but faced strong resistance from various ministries, Dr. Ndemo says. He explains the nature of the resistance and then his counter-methods, describing presidential support and World Bank assistance for the initiative as essential to its success. He recalls his communication with the private sector through his fireside chats. Entrepreneurs and Kenyan youth sought government data for applications and other innovation so Dr. Ndemo promised to provide access to that data within 30 days. Dr. Ndemo describes hurriedly assembling a team, pressuring ministers to open their data, securing presidential support, and successfully launching Kenya’s open data portal. He next turned focus to establishing a legal framework for open data in the government, part of Kenya’s participation with the Open Government Partnership, where he again faced and overcame ministerial resistance. Dr. Ndemo explains his vision of the many potential benefits of open government data for Kenyan economic development such as greater employment, improved market efficiency, and more. He also explains barriers to this development including ministerial resistance to open data, lack of public analysis of the data, and others. He clarifies the responsibilities of the government offices that manage the open data portal and responsibilities within the Ministry of Information and Communication, particularly his as Permanent Secretary and that of the Minister.
Bitange Ndemo is the Permanent Secretary of the Kenyan Government’s Ministry of Information and Communication. Prior to joining the civil service in 2005, Ndemo was a senior lecturer and head of research and consultancy at the University of Nairobi’s School of Business. As a scholar, he specialized in business methods and entrepreneurship. Dr. Ndemo had previously worked as a financial system analyst at Medtronic Inc., a Fortune 500 company in the US (1989-1993). He has a PhD in industrial economics from the University of Sheffield, UK, and management and finance degrees from the University of Minnesota, US.