ALIN’s ICT4Ag initiative feted at Connected Kenya 2016 event
November 01, 2016
Sokopepe, an ALIN initiative emerged the winner in the Agriculture category at the ICT Innovation Awards during the 2016 Connected Summit which began on March 20-23, 2016 at Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort, Diani, Kwale County. The theme for 2016 Connected Summit “Bridging the Service Gap,” explores and identifies gaps that can help achieve universal access to public services and how information technology can improve efficiency in the delivery of government services, simplify compliance with government regulations, strengthen citizen participation and trust in government. The Award was announced at an event held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 during the International Federation of Library Associations meeting at a ceremony presided over by Deborah Jacobs, Director of the Global Libraries initiative at the (BMGF). ALIN was recognised for taking advantage of the benefits of ICTs to empower arid lands communities by locating Maarifa (Knowledge) centres in remote arid lands across East Africa and providing free access to information resources, including the internet and library resources. Communities that receive information resources from ALIN have used them to initiate local social enterprises that have improved their livelihoods over the years. The ICT Innovation Awards recognizes innovative ideas that have since grown into some of the most recognizable tech start-ups in Kenya. The awards highlight innovation that meets Kenya’s blueprint vision to build a vibrant middle-income economy by the year 2030. Since 2011, the award has recognized more than 45 new ICT products and solutions. While receiving the Award on behalf of Sokopepe, Mr. Martin Murangiri, Sokopepe Recruitment, and Training Officer said that the social enterprise set up by the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) would continue to support the agricultural sector in Kenya by offering market information and farm records management services . Sokopepe has been piloting two innovations in five sub counties in Meru namely Imenti Central; North Imenti; South Imenti; Buuri and Tigania West. The social enterprise has been using Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS-Kenya) to support small-scale farmers to develop and nurture a culture of record keeping, SOKO+, a digital commodity trading, and information system, linking small-scale farmers to end retailers/bulk purchasers of produce. Sokopepe has been working with more than 6,000 farmers in the five sub Counties of Meru. It has been expanding the services to all sub-counties in Meru, while working closely with the County Government and other stakeholders. “Winning the award motivates us to continue working with small-scale farmers by helping them to use accurate primary date that can help empower them to improve their incomes, livelihoods and food security,” said Mr. Murangiri. Speaking at the summit, Joseph Mucheru Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology noted that start-up companies need to bring experience to the table. “Money is not a problem, the structure of companies in Kenya; start-ups and scale-ups cannot absorb big money. Do what you have to do, build value and the investors will come,” said Mucheru. The objectives of the 2016 Connected Summit include identify gaps in public sector service delivery that can be solved by innovative use of ICT; highlight efficiency gaps in public sector IT projects and consider policy recommendations; and share knowledge, best practice and lessons based on experience in implementing ICT projects. The Connected Summit is the brainchild of the ICT Authority in consultation with ICT industry players and key government decision makers. The Summit aims at establishing a platform for collaboration, capacity building, and knowledge sharing between government and the ICT sector with a view of linking and hastening implementation of government IT projects to world-class standards. The Connected Summit has enabled its participants to develop unique insights that allow them to successfully respond and design their engagements in Kenya’s vibrant ICT sector.