Meet Kenya’s “E-MP”, James Rege.
I had the unexpected opportunity and pleasure to meet the Member of Parliament (MP) James Rege this week at a dinner function. I have to confess that I am not one who follows politics so I did not really know that much about him until that point. As MP Rege was our special guest, he was given the opportunity to open the evening to talk about his professional and political careers – I have to say that I was more than impressed with his ICT Savvy in both arenas!
To begin with, James Rege holds Electrical Engineering Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the prestigious George Washington University in the United States. He also worked for Iridium which is a global satellite communications business and was at one point the first Managing Director of the hugely successful Vodacom Tanzania. Other aspects of his long and illustrious career in global telecommunications are too extensive to mention in detail here.
In his current role as MP for Karachuonyo Constituency, a position he secured at the 2007 General Elections, James Rege has continued to be a leader in ICT. More specifically, he Chairs the Parliamentary Committee on Energy, Transport, Information, Communication, and Public Works. In addition, Karachuonyo Constituency was the first in Kenya to be connected via VSAT so that he could have live video conferencing sessions with his constituents which saves him travelling 5 hours each way.
Karuchuonyo Constituency is also one of the most advanced in terms of various ICT Programmes in areas such as education and agriculture as can be seen on their web site at http://www.karachuonyoconstituency.com. The MP said that even though political opponents have derided him for using technology to the detriment of his constituents, he reminds them that he also uses technology such as Safaricom’s M-Pesa to send money to his constituents which is more efficient and effective than other channels. In a nutshell, James Rege is undoubtedly what I would call Kenya’s Electronic Member of Parliament, or “E-MP” for short.
To cap all of the above, what really amazed me is how clued in on technology Honorable James
Rege is, in all its facets. He came to the dinner with his Apple iPad which he carries with him at all times. In addition, he had a Blackberry Bold and he said he had also recently acquired a Samsung Galaxy S which is one of the best Android phones in Kenya today. He lamented that the high cost of broadband in Kenya is an impediment to economic progress and that especially in education this needs to change. He really does believe that Kenya’s future will ultimately be driven by technology.