Kenyan govt launches breaking news SMS service


Mr Samuel Lesuron Poghisio, Minister of Information and Communications, Kenya. (Source: ITU / V. Martin)
THE government of Kenya has launched an SMS service through which members of the public will receive breaking news from the government.

This was revealed by government spokesman, Dr Alfred Mutua, when he said that the move was in recognition of the fact that government had to keep up with the changing times.
“If you send an SMS to 4458, we will be sending you government breaking news so that you can hear it before the media manipulates or takes it or breaks it apart,” he said.

He was speaking during the launch of the 15-member National Communications Strategy Taskforce, which has been mandated to come up with overarching communications guidelines that all public sector agencies and departments will be expected to draw from.

“Interim guidelines should be ready by January and they are supposed to offer a framework for ministries and government agencies in the short term. This is because they must have operational guidelines even as the process of national consultation goes on,” said head of the taskforce’s secretariat, Dr George Outa.

The inter-ministerial team which was gazetted by Prime Minister Raila Odinga in September this year has 12 months to formulate a National Communications Strategy and Policy Handbook under the theme “one government, one voice”.

The need to develop a comprehensive strategy arose from the damage done to the government’s overall public image when different ministries or officials issue conflicting statements.

Currently, the government agencies and departments lack a common standard governing basic communication, for example in the use of letter heads.

Speaking at the same function, Information Minister Samuel Poghisio said the new harmonised strategy would go a long way in enabling the government to uphold the right of access to information as provided for in the new constitution.

“This in itself calls for the formulation of more robust government wide communications strategy to enable us to streamline the flow of news and information among state organs, as well as harmonise the process associated with dissemination of this information,” Poghisio added.

BRIAN ADERO in Nairobi, Kenya