Proficient IT personality, with 17 solid years of ICT experience in various sectors,Joseph Kuria is currently the director ICT at the Commission of Revenue Allocation. He is the brain behind the recently launched Integrated Devolution Data Portal, and has immensely impacted the areas he has worked in before,including the hospitality industry. His belief in integrity and self-drive towards achieving goals depicts an epitome of servant leadership. Biashara Leo delves into his evolutionary journey.
By Caroline Mwendwa
BL: You have mastered ICT, do you have a background in it?
Sure. I am a graduate of Computer Science from Egerton University and a holder of MBA from the University of Nairobi where I am still a student of PHD in Information Systems. My PhD Thesis is on Factors that Influence Adoption and Implementation of Revenue Management Systems in Kenyan Counties.
BL: Was this your goal from the beginning?
Funny enough, I never thought I would pursue a degree in Computer Science. My passion was to pursue a degree in Medicine or Pharmacy from the University of Nairobi. These were my university career choices. However the Joint Admission Board thought in its wisdom that I was best suited to pursue a degree in Natural Resources from Egerton University. I was heartbroken.
BL: What drew you to ICT?
After about two months at Egerton University pursuing a degree in Natural Resources, the University introduced a new degree course in Computer Science. I applied and qualified and was among the first 30 pioneer students.
BL: Tell me about your practice as an IT expert
Prior to joining the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) as Director ICT Services, I have worked in different capacities with different institutions including the Ministry of Finance (MISD department), InfoTech Ltd, Telkom, Agakhan University hospital, Travel Port Kenya and Kenya Airways Ltd.
BL: What is your role as the director ICT services at CRA?
For the last 5 years I have been the Director ICT Services with the Commission on Revenue Allocation tasked with promoting ICT policies that support the Commissions mandate at both National and county governments of Kenya. I have developed several frameworks on county revenue automation that is currently being rolled out at the counties and have also been very instrumental in shaping the ICT policies and strategies for both National and County governments.Besides these, I have participated in various task forces including the steering committee of IFMIS at the National Level. I am currently steering the development of the Integrated Devolution data Portal which was launched in this month of July by the Cabinet Secretary for ICT. This is besides the running of the ICT function within the Commission.
BL: In the various fields you have served, which one would you say gave you the best experience?
I have worked in the various sectors of the economy including:Academic; Financial Sector; Travel Trade; Health Sector and Public Sector. I got a lot of experience in the Travel Trade especially working with Kenya Airways and Travel Port. This is where I did my first international integrated projects dealing with online E-Commerce and online travel. I managed different projects and staff from different nationals and races. This opened me up to the bigger picture.
BL: How different is public service compared to academia and the private sector?
The Public sector is very different from the private and academia due to the fact that public sector is not profit driven but society service delivery driven whereas the private sector is more of profit driven. As such their goals and objectives and the strategies deployed to achieve the same are very different. I find it personally fulfilling to serve in the public sector especially when my services changes the livelihood of the underprivileged in the society. This is very fulfilling and invaluable.
BL: You have spearheaded various projects to success, which ones would you mention as the most fulfilling?
While in the Travel Trade Sector and working for Kenya Airways, I managed to transform the way the travel trade can be done through e-commerce. This was key to the development of online travel booking portals for Kenya Airways and the travel trade. In the public sector the most successful has been the development of the integrated devolution data portal.
BL: What attributes would you say drive you?
I have great passion in all that I undertake and I don’t stop until I get the desired results. Personal integrity has been key towards good work ethics which builds trust with colleagues and stakeholders. Self-motivation also helps me to go an extra mile and stretch my targets a little bit far without pressure.I am also a good team player and work well through delegations to my staff and colleagues.
BL: In summary tell me about the place of ICT in development especially in the devolution era.
Traditionally the ICT has been viewed as a support function dealing only with email and internet services to the institutions. Today ICT is a key economic enabler in its own right. Technology builds the bridge between citizenneeds and service delivery by maximizing the use of ICT’s to improve the productivity of the public service and convenience to access to services by the citizens.
I see the private sector playing a crucial role to identify the gaps in the devolved government service delivery and develop working solutions that will reap from the growth and development of each of the 47 counties.
BL: What are the trends in the ICT industry?
The ICT industry is fast moving towards the utilization of BIG DATA to solve common problems through integrated analysis of the same using artificial Intelligence. This is coupled by the fact that now more than ever the INTERNET OF THINGS is here with us and everything is just being plugged and solved through an integrated electronic device. Soon and very soon most of the common human tasks will be relegated to Artificial Intelligence through robotics whose instruction and decision making will be determined by our uptake on the Internet of things.
BL: What advice would you give the young people about careers?
I would advise young people to follow their passion in choosing their careers. They will be able to overcome any obstacle along the way when they are doing something they are passionate about. They also need to identify role models who can be their mentors as they establish their careers.
BL: Any other pertinent issue?
For government to tap the power of ICT in the acceleration of economic growth, there must be a concerted effort towards integrating ICT in all spheres of our economy. The government must set apart at least 5% of their development budget to key enabling ICT projects. This should be at both county and national government.