What Kenya's tweeting chief can teach African leaders attending WEF Africa 2017
Thanks to Chief Francis Kariuki, everyone in Lanet-Umoja is familiar with Twitter and pronounces it "Too-weeter,”
This year’s theme, “Achieving Inclusive Growth through Responsive and Responsible Leadership” seeks to urge African and Business leaders to be pro-active rather than reactive in the face of change largely propelled by technology.
Among the agenda tabled for today’s panel discussion is ‘Leadership in an Era of Disruption’ and nothing more has disrupted governments than technology has done.
The Arab spring was planned and carried out on the Internet and no continent is on the verge of a technological explosion than Africa is, majority of its population who are youth are getting more literate and dependent on technology every day.
It a breath of fresh air therefore to find government officials embracing technology especially in sectors where for a long time analogue and bureaucracy ruled the day. One such sector is the Kenyan provincial administration which has largely operated like it used to do back in the colonial days.
The chiefs are normally old-school, walk with a swagger full of a no nonsense attitude and have no inclination towards technology.
Chief Fracis Kariuki is however an exception, operating from his base in Lanet Umoja, Nakuru North District. He uses Twitter as a tool for community policing, neighborhood watch & crime-reporting activities.
Kariuki, who is popularly referred to as the 'Tweeting Chief' in the true spirit of responsive leadership long realized how leaders need to adapt to technology or risk disappearing into oblivion.
"Generally, I have a passion for technology. Whenever new technology comes along, I want to be the first to get it and find out how it works. I used to get my father's radio and try to look inside it, or create my own radio." he once told a local daily.
Since 2010 he has been tweeting to inform his people about upcoming meeting ‘barazas’ health campaigns, alerting people of theft, lost children etc. some of his tweets have even helped to recover stolen items.
"Every time we have barazas (meetings) twice a month, I make attendees subscribe to my tweets using their regular SMS or text messaging services,"
Thanks to the chief, everyone in Lanet-Umoja is familiar with Twitter and pronounces it "Too-weeter,” from waking up to retiring after a hard day at work, the chief’s tweets is a source of fast and accurate news delivered right to their phones, many times a day.
Chief Kariuki is an holder of a bachelor’s degree in counselling and psychology, which he acquired through virtual learning from Mt Kenya University. He has been invited all over the world to give talks.
So as African leaders attend the world economic forum, maybe during the season they can take time to read’ ‘Chief Kariuki’s tweet’ and learn a thing or two about keeping up with their electorate and avoid being unceremoniously bundled out of office because of being out of touch.
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