The Impact of digital villages in rural ICT development
The Kenyan government with the support of private organisations created an initiative by the name Pasha which involved the setting up Digital Villages across the country with key focus on rural communities. The government expects that this would increase the focus and growth in ICT and E-commerce in the country and help drive the goals of Vision 2030. Unfortunately the Digital Villages have not impacted the rural community as was initially purported, and therefore a lack of ICT growth and empowerment within the communities still exists. Government services are still centralized and accessibility especially for those within rural communities is still a problem. Questionnaires, numerous interviews and case studies have been documented order to provide a comparison between different Digital Village set-ups within Kenya. The questionnaires were distributed as primary data sources in a local Digital Village establishment in Machakos. Case study material was obtained from the ICT Board of Kenya and various private organisations that have set-up Digital Villages in Kenya. The research indicates issues encountered during the set-up and the lack of follow up procedures on already established Digital Villages has led to a collapse in most of them. Feedback obtained from the questionnaires indicates a lack of interest within rural communities in embracing Digital Villages mainly due to other economic activities undertaken. This has therefore reduced the impact of Digital Villages to rural ICT growth. The goals of Digital Villages are not being met in Kenya. Support needs to be offered by both the government and private sector in order to encourage growth of Digital Villages. These include training rural communities to become more self-sufficient after the initial set-up, improved infrastructure and access to marginalised areas and provision of services related to the main economic activities through Digital Villages. Constant reporting on the progress made by the Digital Villages will also assist in tracking down issues and ensure solutions are given. Rural communities also need to embrace Digital Villages as Centres towards enhancing their main economic activities through the knowledge obtained from communication with the outside world.