Pioneering research and knowledge in the field of data and politics in Kenya

5 minutes read | First published: February 15, 2023

Tactical Tech interviewed Clement Njoroge Founder and Director of MediaNet Works, who shared insights into the work of the organisation and the collaboration with Tactical Tech.

Tactical Tech: How do you imagine a different digital future?

Clement Njoroge: Data privacy remains a key concern for many communities worldwide, particularly Kenya. The new government, which has only been in power for a short while, is planning to provide free WiFi in public spaces. This means a vast population will now be exposed to commercial and political ads and activities. People and organisations don't have the information that they need to help them safeguard their data and information – particularly as they begin interacting with technology.

I would want to see free and confident communities interacting with technology – without fear of the unknown. People interacting with technology, from children to young people to older people, who are confidently integrated in the digital world. This can only be achieved through vibrant digital literacy that demonstrates what is possible and what the risks are for the people and the public good.

TT: What is the Media Net's mission?

CN: Media Net empowers communities, especially the younger generation – the digital generation – so they can reap the benefits of the Internet and the general ICTs available to them. Information is power, and when people have it, they are more powerful and can take control of their lives. We have many challenges, including a lack of awareness and access. Our organisation works to include marginalised groups that are being left out. Media Net is working to incorporate them by building relationships and learning how technology is used in the communities now and how it could be used in their lives. Logo of Media NetLogo courtesy of Media Net

TT: Could you share some insights into the collaboration with Tactical Tech?

CN: The partnership was beneficial for us because it opened many new windows of opportunity. Through the Voter's Guide partnership, we became aware of and strengthened our relationships with new organisations working in the space. Through our research and training, we discovered the need was even more than we thought and realised that we – along with Tactical Tech – are a pioneer in this area. Through this, we have deepened our networks and outreach. We could also engage two ICT interns to help with the localisation.

Additionally, this project posed a challenge for us to devise creative and innovative ways to address the challenges in the digital space, like privacy. For the localisation and media outputs we created, I could travel outside of Nairobi to interview various figures (like politicians, citizens and journalists). I became even more aware and convinced of all the work there is to do! This partnership inspired us to develop stronger relationships with other digital privacy and rights organisations, meet with and discuss with new stakeholders to understand their challenges and opinions and become more dedicated to the area.

TT: What essential collaboration results would you like to highlight?

CN: We held two pieces of training. The participants were very excited and passionate about learning and sharing their experiences. We had several ICT practitioners involved in the training sessions. They found that the content was more understandable and found new information to share. With our guidance, the practitioners and attendees will now become trainers in their community.

The engagement with Tactical Tech builds a lot of confidence within our team about the content. The research that Tactical Tech provided resonated with the team. We appreciated that Tactical Tech included discussions about social media, not just theory or work technologies. Social media is where we spend so much of our time.

TT: How did your project and the partnership make a difference? 

CN: During the first training, we ran a quick survey which gave an insight into the depth of the audience's understanding, including the journalists and interns (who were doing the localisation). From this short survey, the conversations with attendees, and the interviews with politicians, journalists and citizens, we gained a clearer picture of the digital rights and privacy landscape. This localisation helped us to delve deeper into the topic to see how useful it can be. For our new trainers, who attended our training sessions and are now going to the communities, it allowed the younger generation to see how applicable the lessons are at the community level – to take the materials and the lessons out of the classroom and show how the materials were needed within every community.

TT: Why is it essential to continue these collaborations and partnerships?

CN: Since we started engaging in this community work, we have even understood our community more. Even the well-educated, say, or university educated, most are only semi-literate regarding digital issues. And they are then susceptible to manipulation. Therefore these partnerships help us to stay engaged and push to engage in new ways. We are challenged to expand and grow. We know that we need to continue educating populations, raise awareness, and find peer educators. We are motivated to find new ways and new digital rights champions to help us do it.

Get to know more about MediaNet Works by visiting their website and Facebook page and Twitter account.