Innovation Q&A: #CTIF2020 Keynote speaker, Al Kags
One of our keynote speakers shares his thoughts on the Civic Tech community in Africa
What should attendees look forward to?
The Civic Tech event represents an opportunity for our community of ICT4D players to examine the unique junction where we are insofar as using Tech at the sub-national level to change lives. I anticipate robust stories of impact, debate and thinking on the subject.
What topic are you hoping we discuss at the conference? What is civic tech in Africa not addressing?
I am clear that the most unaddressed issue within the Civic Tech community is in how to REALLY get a tech to be used at the sub-national level to change lives — to address the developmental challenges and how we can move it from being one-off, disparate efforts to a widespread way of life across the continent.
You are an advocate for open government and citizen participation, How do you envision civic tech to influence the relationship between governments and citizens?
I think Civic Tech is at the heart of two main aspects of the relationship between citizens and government — on the one hand, it enables government transparency and service delivery and on the other, it facilitates citizen engagement and participation. Civic Tech is THE ONLY solution to this.
What is the civic tech field in Africa lacking and what is it doing right?
I think what Civic Tech is lacking latched on two principles: Scale and Independence. There is an over-dependence in the international community in the design and funding of the Civic Tech innovations. This then curtails its scale because much of Civic Tech projects are done for the “Approval” of donors rather than their African users. Therefore, they do not scale.
Will civic tech solve any problems at all or is it already solving any problems? Do you have any examples?
I think that Civic Tech is solving problems all over Africa — just not in the scale that it should or could.
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