IT companies are gearing up for government tenders as the State seeks to streamline its technology platforms to boost service delivery.
On offer are projects worth billions which include putting up electronic data centre storage facilities, rolling out tele-presences that will link courts across the country, supplying a case management system for the tracking of court cases and leasing of internet connectivity.
Companies scrambling for a share of the goodies include Oracle, NetApp, SevenSeas, Safaricom, Mfi, IBM, Jamii telecommunication, Cisco and BPO operators.
Key departments set to benefit are the ministries of finance, lands and immigration, the judiciary, police, prisons and the Kenya Revenue Authority.
Cisco, Safaricom and Jamii telecommunication have secured part of a deal to roll-out a pilot tele-presence facility that links the Nairobi court of appeal and Mombasa, a project that the government says it intends to replicate in the all magistrate courts and prisons.
NetApp chief executive James Munene says the aggressive drive by the government to automate it’s processes and digitize it documents provides a new business opportunities for the private sector.
“The digitized data will need to be managed, which provides an opportunity since we offer data management and storage facilities.” he said.
“However, the bottle neck has been a lack of knowledge in government about what is available in the market in order for it to make informed choices.”
Despite , pitching individually, collaboration among IT providers seems inevitable.
NetApp for example, says it has partnered with Cisco and VM ware to offer it’s solution to the government.
Taking into account the capital expenditure involved in putting up a electronic data storage facilities, NetApp says it does not rule out the contract and operate model.
Seven Seas technologies, a local IT company is looking forward to provide the government with a Citizen Resource Management system, borrowing from Customer Resource Management System (CRM).
During a meeting that brought stake IT stakeholders and government officers in Mombasa last week, Oracle account manager Mary Muthumbi said that her company is targeting the Finance ministry to provide a financial management system, the judiciary and prisons to provide a case management system among others.
“We are not looking for an opportunity to make money only. We also want to make a difference in the way services are accessed in the nation,” said Ms Muthumbi.
IBM regional general manager Tony Mwai, says the firm is positioning itself to offer solutions that will enable the government adopt its Smarter government initiatives.
“It will be a smoothly functioning system interconnecting with citizens, communities and businesses in real-time to spark growth, innovation and progress” he said.
Governments, he says can boost the economy by streamlining cumbersome processes and simplifying reporting requirements, which are especially burdensome to small agencies.
For example, the Maryland Department of Labour, Licensing and Regulation has enabled online renewal of professional licenses and public verification of valid license holders.
And the Belgian Crossroads Bank for Social Security has automated 42 services for employers, eliminating 50 social security declaration forms.
As a result, 23 million declarations were made electronically in 2008 – a major productivity benefit for Belgian businesses, saving them an estimated $1.7 billion a year.
However, Dr Kamau Gachigi of University of Nairobi, says government should put measures to ensure local IT companies also get a stake in government business.