It is one thing to have a website, but an altogether different thing to have a website that serves a purpose. Many websites are created merely for the sake of doing what everyone else is doing rather than to meet a need.

This also applies to government websites in Kenya.

A digital government

Almost all government agencies, departments or semi-autonomous government agencies in Kenya have websites. It would be hard to imagine of a government ministry without a website. However, very few of those websites are useful, or serve any purpose apart from providing information that is obvious.

The most useful government websites in Kenya are the ones that offer services to the people. These include sites like eCitizen website which allows one to access various government services like passport application, the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) website that allows for University and College applications, Kenya Revenue Authority tax platform, and National Transport and Safety Authority’s services website TIMS.

Kenya's eCitizen website offers citizens access to various government services like passport application

On many other Kenyan government websites, you will find stale information or websites that were last updated more than two years ago. While this is a lax attitude from a government that is spending a lot of money on the same services, there is one reason why it is very unlikely to change.

Disinterested citizens

The government is not alone to blame for the presence of stale websites that no one needs. The people who would require the information are many times not interested in the information, or even public participation. This means that even if the information is posted, very few people will look for it.

With little interest from people who should be demanding for the information, there is little or no motivation for the information.

Take the example of county government websites in Kenya. A random survey will show that most people have never visited their county government websites, save for a few who visit the websites to look for jobs or tenders. This means that the county governments are not at pressure to put more information online since nobody needs it.

Demand vs Supply

Demand for information usually informs how it is supplied, especially from governments. While there are many documents and policy papers that various government offices are supposed to supply periodically, most of them are usually not posted online because very few people online ask for them.

Even in public meetings, people rarely show up (especially those who are educated). Government thus ends up with tons of reports that only NGOs and policy think tanks care about.

Until people become interested in public participation, putting government agencies into account and keeping up with what the government is doing, we will continue to have stale websites. The same thing applies to private websites where development of sites usually follows usage.

Share this via: