At least 67 law courts in the country are set to be linked to the National Optic Fibre Backbone (NOFB) to facilitate internet connectivity.
The move is expected facilitate the realization of the Automation and Digitization Agenda of the Judiciary to ensure smooth operations and fastrack the delivery of justice.
Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, Martha Koome, said the internet connectivity will benefit e-courts with reliable, faster, and stable internet access, that has been a challenge to the dispensation of justice through the virtual courts.
“This project is going to solve the challenge that has stood in our way from fully realizing the full potential of virtual courts, mainly reliability, speed, and stability of the internet,” said Koome.
The CJ was speaking, during the launch of the National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) Connectivity Support for the Judiciary by the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs in Collaboration with Google Kenya at Milimani Ceremonial Hall which was also attended by the Cabinet Secretary ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Mr. Joe Mucheru.
Koome noted that the launch is a game-changing development that will power the Judiciary’s strategic objective of leveraging on technology as an enabler for efficiency in the delivery of justice.
“Ever since the Judiciary embraced virtual hearings, we have seen tremendous positive impact on access to justice, which has enabled us to address some of the concerns, relating to the cost- effectiveness of access to justice,” said the CJ.
She said the existence of e-courts has enabled witnesses who are abroad to attend courts virtually without having to travel to Kenya to give evidence.
Similarly, Koome added that expert witnesses like doctors and nurses are able to conveniently attend court to give evidence without major disruption of their work.
The CJ also singled out the automation of administrative services in the Judiciary as key to efficiency of the institution, adding that the Judiciary’s goal is to turn paperless by ensuring that administrative processes are electronically managed.
Koome, who termed the NOFBI project as an enabler, said it will help human resource systems, workflow management systems, customer relations management systems, case management systems, to be electronic and integrated across all court stations countrywide.
Going into the future the CJ said stable, fast, and reliable internet connectivity will enable the judiciary to re-imagine the ways in which disputes can be handled in light of emerging technologies.
Speaking at the event, CS Mucheru said the project will connect close to 300 courtrooms in 67 court stations to the NOFBI by the end of October 2022.
Mucheru noted that the Google Connectivity project is part of a Sh500 million grant by Google that will install network infrastructure countrywide in six hospitals, 11 Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions and 67 Law courts across the country.
“I thank and congratulate all those who have worked hard to actualize this project, specifically the Google project teams, the National Treasury, Ministry of Health, the Office of the Attorney General, Judiciary staff, TVET staff and all the staff from my Ministry,” said Mucheru.
He added that the project will transform public service delivery to citizens through adoption of ICT.
With only 24 days to the general elections set for August 9th, the CS urged Kenyans to exercise their patriotic duty by choosing peace and stability for the country.
“Come the election day, exercise your right to participate in the democratic election of leaders by going out to vote, allowing others to make their choices too and respect their choices for it is okay to differ in opinions,” stressed Mucheru.
The CS appealed to members of the public to turn up in large numbers to the polling stations to cast their votes, saying that technology used during voting is just a tool for social improvement, but it takes a person to effect change in the society through voting.
Among those who graced the event were SCJ and Chairperson of the Judiciary ICT & Integrated Case Management Committee, Mr. Justice Isaac Lenaola, Principal Secretary, State Department for ICT, and Innovation Mr. Jerome Ochieng, Principal Secretary for Broadcasting and Telecommunications, Ms. Esther Koimett, Chief Administrative Secretary for ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Ms. Maureen Mbaka Country Director, Director General, Communications Authority of Kenya Ezra Chiloba and Google –Kenya Ms. Agnes Gathaiya.
By Catherine Muindi