Numerous opinions have been expressed following the announcement made by the Kiambu County Government to discontinue the use of the Electronic Development Applications Management Systems (EDAMS) citing serious challenges faced that have negatively affected their service delivery, especially the approval of development applications. Stakeholders have aired their frustrations, especially the professionals including urban planners, architects, and engineers.
Traditionally, government services have been delivered in person often using paper forms. The e-system that has been running for several years has significantly transformed county transactions by simplifying the applications made and non-tedious development approval processes. However, the past year has presented issues such as a temporary shutdown of the system and loss of data forcing applicants to resubmit the applications. This caused major delays in the approval processes. The developers lost patience and finances resulting in starting construction without approvals.
Suspending the Kiambu Electronic Development Applications Management Systems (EDAMS) for an undefined amount of time presents numerous implications. The developers, architects, planners, engineers, and other players in the development space will now have to resubmit their applications manually; assuming that an architect or a planner has 200 submissions made on EDAMs, they are supposed to print all applications and resubmit to the various sub-county, this is unnecessarily expensive and time-consuming causing further inconveniences to the developer. The developers are at a loss given that the system has had issues over the last three months where they have lost their project financiers and investors, delayed commencement of construction, and overall general difficulty.
Kenya is well known as the regional ICT hub of East Africa, with the country being a leader in broadband connectivity, general ICT infrastructure, value-added services (VAS), mobile banking, and FinTech services. With the government’s development of the Digital Economy Blueprint and the country’s pool of well-equipped IT persons, it is expected that such challenges in the system can be sorted and improved within a short period. While implementing digital services, innovators can meet challenges related to internal risk aversion and user adoption. These challenges, however, are easily overcome and quickly replaced by benefits, which include better online-user experiences for citizens, increased public participation, faster responses and approvals, improved internal efficiency and productivity, better collaboration among departments, reduced costs, less paper use, and traveling to county offices.
Moving forward, we call for Kiambu County to restore the e- system that is secure and efficient as the future of county operations depends on digital transformation. Kiambu County has attracted many real estate investors and opportunities due to various factors such as land availability, proximity to Nairobi, and an efficient E-Dams system. Therefore, it should not risk losing them in a day and age where everything is technology.