ICT4Democracy East Africa October Newsletter

The October Newsletter of the ICT4Democracy East Africa Network can now be downloaded HEREThis brochure covers the activities of the network partners and focuses on how they are leveraging different ICT platforms to enhance transparency and civic empowernment. The utilized technologies include crowd sourcing platforms like Ushahidi; social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter; and digital and traditional media like websites and radio.

Highlights in the newsletter include details of KHRC’s human rights violations monitoring, CHRAGG’s progress with the complaints handling system, iHub Research’s MGovernance Field work update, TI Uganda’s toll free line, a report on citizen journalism training by CIPESA and ToroDev and WOUGNET capacity building activities during the month of October.

 

ICT for Democracy in East Africa: October News

SMS for Human Rights

The Tanzanian Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) is due to undertake field studies to gather user requirements this November. The results of the study will go toward the features design of the mobile phone based Complaints Handling Management Information System.

Catalysing Civic Participation and Democracy Monitoring Using ICTS

IT support equipment has been procured for the two grassroots based centres that the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) entered into MOUs with last month. A needs assessment including survey of the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAPS) to determine the ICT for democracy tools used, user and non-user profiles and their [de]motivations is scheduled for November and December. CIPESA’s analysis of Ugandan policies and practices that enhance (or undermine) eDemocracy is also to be finalised in November.

M-Governance: Exploring Conditions for Successful Mobile Governance in Kenya

The literature review as part of iHub’s exploratory research into the successful conditions for mobile governance in Kenya is complete. The review that aims to identify a Kenyan definition of good governance is to be circulated pending final edits. A workshop to identify issues in Kenya’s governance structures with an emphasis on stakeholder roles and relationships was held at iHub on October 27, 2011. The workshop also explored ways in which technology could facilitate and potentially enhance good governance. Further information is available here. Expert interviews and pilot questionnaires are scheduled for November and December.

Reforms through Citizen Participation and Government Accountability

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has contracted a web developer for their human rights issues crowd sourcing website. Information and work from Human Rights Networks (HURINETS) on the ground is to feed into the website using the Ushahidi crowd-map platform. One of the HURINETS working in partnership with KHRC is the KURIA Human Rights Network. The initiative, under the western region Kuria Reform Agenda Consortium, seeks to address systematic insecurity in the Kuria constituency. KURIA’s recently set up crowd mapping platform can be found here.

Promoting Social Accountability in the Health Sector in Northern Uganda

Transparency International (TI) Uganda in October held a workshop where Voluntary and Accountability Committees (VACs) members of Oyam districts were trained on how to report health worker absenteeism and poor service delivery. So far, the project has seen a slight indication of improvements in health service delivery in Lira and Oyam district. Based on arrival logs, health centre workers are recorded as reporting to work on time. For more information, visit TI’s Stop Health Workers’ Absenteeism facebook page.

Empowering Local People and Communities to Monitor Districts’ Service Delivery Through ICTs

Following the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET)’s mobilisations exercises in Gulu and Amuru districts held last month, similar exercises were undertaken in Kole, Oyam and Apac districts during October. The exercises, which involved community meetings, informed stakeholders on how ICT can enable effective service delivery. As per the project scope, the mobilisation targeted more women than men (ratio of women to men being 70:30).

Other news

 


 

Launch of the Information Economy Report 2011 in Uganda

What role are Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) playing in enabling private sector development in developing countries? And what are countries in Africa and other developing regions doing to enable ICT play a greater catalysing role in national development? These were some of the questions discussed at the launch in Kampala of the Information Economy Report 2011, themed ‘Information and Communication Technologies as an Enabler for Private Sector Development (PSD)’.

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) and the College of Computer and Information Sciences, Makerere University, organised the launch of the report in Uganda, on October 19, 2011, the day it was released worldwide. The report is the sixth in a series published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

This year’s report addresses the role of ICT in accelerating development in developing regions. It seems to conclude that whereas there is great potential, in many countries insufficient effort has been given to enabling ICT to play a more robust role. Furthermore, the report states that substantial challenges remain for many countries that are seeking to leverage on ICT to enable social and economic transformation.

Various instructive cases of how ICT is working beneficially are captured in the report. There is ICT training of entrepreneurs in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Panama; ICT-based agricultural information services in Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia; Using ICTs for micro-finance in Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone; and mobile money, which has enabled a new range of financial services in Kenya and Mexico.

The report also provides global statistical analysis on ICT infrastructure and ICT use by enterprises of different sizes and in various industries. During 2009, international telecommunications infrastructure investments (with private participation) were led by Sub-Saharan Africa with just over US$60,000 million. South Asia came in second with slightly under US$50,000 million. East Asia and the Pacific invested the least – less than US$10,000 million.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, less than 20% of enterprises are reported to have websites. Senegal leads the continent in ICT utilisation, with 92% of its enterprises using computers, an average 84% using the internet and 2%-12% of them receiving and placing orders online. Second in Africa is Lesotho, where 34% of enterprises use computers and 17% use the internet. All this in pale comparison to the developed world where over 90% of enterprises use computers and the internet, 80% have their own websites and 15%-40% place and receive orders online.

The report argues that the internet is an important channel for enterprises to engage with governments. Access to relevant information and electronic services such as taxation and government assistance carries great potential for enterprise cost reduction and improved efficiency. UNCTAD data suggests that enterprises in the developing world hardly use the internet for obtaining information from government, and even less so for conducting transactions.

This year’s report reveals that government programmes’ more effective use of ICT to support Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) will help accelerate job creation and business growth. Indeed, mobile applications and social media are enabling numerous ways to provide services and information and connect buyers and customers. The report proposes a framework to help governments ensure that the services provided are truly demand-driven by involving the private sector in the design and provision of training and advisory services.

UNCTAD specifically challenges governments to help women entrepreneurs. The report observes that faced with challenges including difficulty in accessing finance and family commitments, many women are unable to take advantage of available opportunities. Therefore, initiatives targeted at women should assess gender needs and explore how different ICT solutions can address them.

Ultimately, the report calls upon governments to liberalise markets in order to expand and improve network infrastructure, especially in rural areas, and provide a conducive legal and regulatory environment for ICT advancements.

At the Kampala launch, however, participants expressed concern that Uganda was not well featured in the report, noting that it was not clear what achievements or challenges the country faced. Many contributors suggested that government should get more involved in investing in ICT and private sector development. Initiatives such as investing in local content development, increasing information flow from government to citizens, investing in open data, supporting local IT companies by providing local supplier authorisations to bid for government IT jobs, and removal of taxes on mobile phone handsets and airtime, were among those suggested.

The Director of e-Government at the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U), Julius Torach, delivered a government statement while Ali Ndiwalana of Makerere University Directorate for ICT Supporthighlighted the main findings of this year’s report with a focus on the East African region.

Mr. Torach stated that the report comes at a time when Uganda has taken giant steps towards promoting both ICT and private sector development. He cited the October 7, 2011 launch of the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure/National Electronic Government project which is expected to trigger private sector development through the provision of high-speed internet access to facilitate Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), among others.

In collaboration with Makerere University, NITA-U has successfully trained 500 youths to work for BPO operations. “In all our endeavours, we have emphasised private-public partnerships in delivery of IT infrastructure and management of IT services,” said Mr. Torach.

At the policy level, Uganda is reviewing the national ICT policy, while the National Information Managements Services policy is also underway.

The IER 2011 Uganda launch was held at Makerere University and the event was graced by the media, ICT enthusiasts, private and public sector representatives as well as students. The IER 2011 full report and its databases are available here.

ICT for Democracy in East Africa: Project Update

Launched in May 2011, ICT for Democracy in East Africa (ICT4DemEA) is a network of organisations undertaking collaborative projects where Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is used in various ways to promote transparency, accountability and democracy. The network, with seed funding from the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (Spider) comprises of organisations in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. These are the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET); Transparency International Uganda (TIU); The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA); iHub (Kenya) the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and Tanzania’s Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG).

The projects spearheaded by each organisation leverage on ICT with the aim to fight corruption, enhance the right to freedom of expression, monitor service delivery, hold leaders accountable and encourage civic participation. During the recently concluded Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Nairobi, September 27-30, 2011, the regional network partners met to discuss the progress of their projects.

iHub, Nairobi’s technical and solutions centre, is conducting exploratory research into the conditions for mobile as a successful tool for improved governance in Kenya. Desk research is underway to identify a Kenyan definition of “good governance” and the weakest areas of governance in Kenya. This is to be based on global indices and will engage the United Nations, Strathmore and Jomo Kenyatta Universities, Huduma and SODNET (Social Development Network), among others. This October, iHub is due to host a workshop with Kenyan Governance experts and iHub’s application developer community, conduct expert interviews as well as pilot questionnaires in five [yet to be decided] areas of Nairobi. Besides, iHub is studying the different mobile and web applications out there as well as lessons learned from existing mobile governance efforts.

KHRC’s has identified and sensitised grassroots based Human Rights Networks (HURINETs) in the use of social media. Through the HURINETs, databases have been developed for an SMS and crowd-sourcing platform. With little ICT expertise, KHRC is facing technological challenges and is in the process of identifying suitable platforms and contracting developers. In the meantime, it is exploring collaboration with iHub (technical) and CIPESA (policy) as well as synergies with CHRAGG.

In its pursuit to empower communities through ICT to demand for better health service delivery in Northern Uganda, TIU, with headquarters in Kampala officially opened its offices in Lira on July 25, 2011. Since then, the selection and formation of Voluntary and Accountability Committees (VACs) which incorporate previously existing Village Health Teams, Health Management Committees, District Health Teams and Baraza structures has been successful. The VACs empowered through ICT to monitor health service delivery in Lira and Oyam districts currently have 199 members and have so far made visits to eight health centres. During October, TIU will be gathering user needs and requirements for the development of a database to support a short code SMS application through stakeholder workshops. TIU is working in partnership with WOUGNET, THETA Uganda, Lira NGO Forum, Plan Uganda, World Vision, Platform for Labour Action and Uganda National Health Consumers Association.

On the other hand, to enhance Ugandan civic advocacy and engagement and increase government transparency and accountability, CIPESA has entered into memorandums of understanding (MoU) with two grassroots based centres. One of the centres, Busoga Rural Open Source & Development Initiative (BROSDI), is a non-profit centre working to improve rural livelihoods and the second is the local government-run Kasese eSociety. The MOUs provide for CIPESA’s training of centre staff in citizen journalism and the undertaking and reporting on surveys, focus group discussions and polls on prevailing governance, political and service delivery issues. The centres are responsible for mobilising organised groups to join a Network of users and advocates in the use of ICTs to improve citizen participation as well as reporting on the activities and developments in the work of mobilised network organisations. The contact details of centre visitors and collaborators are being collected to receive regular informative SMSs and emails from CIPESA on governance issues and how citizens can play a role in them.

An analysis by CIPESA of Ugandan policies and practices that enhance (or undermine) eDemocracy is well underway. The output of this will be briefing papers and fact sheets targeting policy makers and the media. Already published is a briefing note that explains the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The Partnership, launched on September 20, 2011 aims to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. CIPESA’s Open Government briefing (available here) explains the OGP, looks at OGP indicators and prospects in selected African countries (Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa), and explores the role ICT could play in catalysing the achievement of open governance in Africa.

Similar to TIU, WOUGNET has also started its work to empower local people and communities in monitoring service delivery through ICTs. Its project is targeted at five districts in Northern Uganda: Apac, Oyam, Kole, Amuru and Gulu. The project, in its preliminary stages has so far seen mobilisation exercises undertaken in Gulu and Amuru. The sub-counties and parishes to work with in the two districts have been identified. WOUGNET is currently exploring a partnership with Track FM for radio talk shows to be conducted to discuss transparency and accountability in local languages.

In order to ensure citizens understand their basic human rights and the principles of good governance while dealing with the high complaints volume received, CHRAGG built a web based Complaints Handling Management Information System. However, the system is not accessible to citizens in remote areas and towns without CHRAGG branch offices. The Commission is currently developing and implementing additional features to the Complaint Handing System. The features via mobile phone platform are to incorporate text messages, image and video capabilities for informers or complainants. Additionally, the Commission is to send out information and also receive inquiries about its services through the platform. An MoU has been signed with the system design and development partner – Bessbrook International LTD. The Commission has also signed MoUs for collaboration with 10 non-government organisations.

Further information is available on individual organisations’ websites as well as the regional network’s social pages: Twitter ICT4DemEA and Facebook ICT for Democracy in East Africa.

 

 

ICT4Democracy in East Africa’ Project Launched

This article was published by the Swedish Programme on ICTs for Developing regions (SPIDER) on June 28, 2011, about the ICT4Democracy in East Africa project, which brings together various partners in the region.

Recently, we have seen a number of projects, pilots and tools where ICT is used in various ways to promote democracy. Many of these initiatives have been launched in East Africa: crowd-sourcing platforms such as Ugandawatch2011, uReport and Ushahidi (and variations thereof such as Uchaguzi, Huduma and Map Kibera); innovative SMS applications such as Grid 6464, CU@SCHOOL, 3356 shortcode by City Council in Nairobi and Trac FM; and of course the widespread use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

We have also seen some challenges in ICT enabled democracy projects emerge: lack of government involvement, too much government involvement (i.e. surveillance, filtering and censorship), low community involvement and problems sustaining the community involvement over time, expensive marketing strategies and reaching out campaigns, lack of visibility, how to show impact… The list can be made long.

In November 2010, Spider together with Association for Progressive Communications (APC), organized a Governance Stakeholder Workshop in Kampala, Uganda and invited East African organizations who could bring in important and valuable insight to the area of ICT, democracy and development. Following this workshop, Spider received concept papers and project proposals in the field of ICT and democracy and after reviewing the applications, identified several overlaps and areas in the project proposals that could benefit from a collaborative and stronger ICT for democracy program. The aim of the program is to synergize and compliment the individual projects with the ambition of possibly creating a network hub that deals in democracy through the use of ICTs.

A follow-up two-day workshop in Kampala in May 2011, brought together partners with various strengths who all lauded the idea of a program and expanding their individual existing networks. The Partners have different expertise that together will create greater impact:

Kenya Human Rights Commission has been in existence since 1992 and is the oldest partner among the projects. KHRC have for 19 years advocated for constitutional reforms within the area of human rights. As such they are currently looking at incorporating ICTs in their work, and this is an area that their partner iHUB also in Kenya has expertise in and can be of significant assistance. iHUB’s strength and expertise lie in their technical knowledge and solutions which they are now marrying to governance and democracy advocacy in Kenya and area they are relatively new at. Both Kenyan partners expressed interest and support for the idea of a program approach because in this case they can work together to strengthen each other’s weaknesses.

Women of Uganda Network has for the past 11 years worked with women’s groups and organizations promoting the use of ICTs to share information and address various social issues. WOUGNET’s vision is a society in which women are empowered through the use of ICTs for sustainable development. This strong gender-awareness in their ICT programs provides an opportunity for the ICT for Democracy program to ensure that activities and plans by each partner maintain gender sensitivity in their deployment. As these organizations will look at addressing social accountability in various rural regions in the region, Transparency International the Ugandan Chapter, with expertise in awareness and anti-corruption campaigning will be assisting the other partners in this area. TIU in turn expressed the need for help in addressing the communities with a gender-lens.

Towards the end of the workshop, the partners all advocated for regional facilitation of the program, and unanimously selected Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA). CIPESA by virtue of their experience in collaborative efforts was identified as the ideal partner to facilitate the cooperation and activities planned by the partners. CIPESA similarly look to KHRC, TIU, WOUGNET and iHUB to assist them in working with technology and with grass-root communities, and with CIPESA’s experience in Policy driven research changes, this program should have an all-round impact not just to the local communities where the activities will be anchored for the next 2 years but to overall policy.

 

Source: SPIDER newsletter, June 28, 2011

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