Has Kenya’s ICT revolution triggered more citizen participation?

By Making All Voices Count | Communication between the state and citizens is an essential element for an equal and just society. Growing social inequalities, lack of proper public services, and denial of basic human rights all act to widen existing communication gaps.

Key to bridging these gaps is ensuring not only that citizen voices are heard, but also that states have the capacity and incentive to listen and respond. As much of the literature on accountability focuses on citizen voices, a group of researchers from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania – in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies – decided to look at state responsiveness. Read more

Online Civility Will Matter More Than Ever in 2017

By John Walubengo | The 2017 electioneering period has really and truly kicked in. Is the country ready to deal with the discourse that is emerging in the blogosphere and spilling into the real world?  With a large number of Kenyans, most of them young people, actively online, a large part of next year’s general election is likely to be fought online.

Unfortunately, the online agenda is likely to mirror the offline agenda, which is characterised by retrogressive, tried-and-tested tribal contours. As a generation that has failed to live up to the Kenyan Project, as Dr Ndii so provocatively described it, the least we can do is to try and inspire future generations to succeed where we failed.

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Video: ICT and Governance in East Africa

iHub Research, undertook a study in 2014 to assess how ICT tools are being used, for and in various aspects of governance in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In 2015, following the completion of the study, the iHub team went around the three countries to share the findings and engage the stakeholders who participated in the study in a bid to find ways of using the research. This short video is a summary of those sessions.

Video sourced from the iHub Youtube Channel

ICT and Governance in East Africa: Dar es Salaam Dissemination

By Varyanne Sika |
In July, iHub Research went to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to discuss findings from out ICT and Governance in East Africa study. This was the second of our dissemination forums outside Kenya. Before Tanzania, we went to Kampala in Uganda to share findings from the same study (read a brief recap blog on the Kampala dissemination here). The purpose of these events in the cities where the study was conducted, is to take back the findings from the data we got, to the people and organizations who gave it to us.

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Promoting inclusive use of ICT in monitoring service delivery in Uganda

By Lillian Nalwoga |

For true democracy to flourish there is need for government transparency, greater access to public information, and inclusion of citizens’ voices in decision-making processes. The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can aid in increasing awareness and empowering citizens to meaningfully participate in governance processes such as monitoring public services delivery.  Read more

ICT and Governance in East Africa: Study Sites

By Varyanne Sika

There might be unanimity in the excitement about ICTs in Africa but there remains little empirical evidence on the ways of actual use of ICT and in particular, for our study, in governance.

Governance, as we approach it in this study, has a political and social component, and is responsive to the present and future needs of society. Information and Communication Technologies are anticipated to improve governance. One of the key things we want to investigate is HOW they can, and are doing so, for where they have been adopted in East Africa.

iHub Research, as part of the ICT4Democracy East Africa network, seeks to study the innovative initiatives leveraging ICT for and in governance in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The ICT and Governance study in East Africa seeks to identify, describe and analyse conditions under which ICT tools can or have successfully facilitated or hindered two way interaction between government and citizens.

An introduction to this study can be found here.

To understand ICT use for governance in East Africa, the study is focussing particularly on the following four areas of governance;

This study will be conducted in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The specific cities and towns in the three countries were selected based on the presence of ICT4Democracy EA partners in the towns and other reasons explained below;

1.  In Kenya, the study will be carried out in Nairobi and in Nakuru. These selections were based on prominence of ICT initiatives in these areas. Nairobi, as the ICT hub in the East African region was a natural fit for the project. Nakuru, on the other hand, is thefirst town in Kenya to get free Wi-Fi therefore enabling citizens to have access to unrestricted internet connectivity. This move was aimed at “enhancing ICT in ensuring better service delivery and simplifying public participation in governance through social media.”

2.  In Uganda, the study is being conducted in Kampala, the capital city, and in Apac, a peri-urban town which is also a post conflict area. Kampala being the capital city, has prominence of ICT use and infrastructure while Apac is one of the towns in which there exists heavy use of ICT tools for governance as we discovered in our exploratory study.

3.  In Tanzania, the study is being conducted in Dar-es-Salaam and in Mwanza. Both cities have a high presence of organizations and projects whose central theme is ICT for Development, within and outside of the ICT4Democracy EA Network.

Are you based in any of these cities/towns and know of any ICT-based initiatives addressing governance issues that we should check out? Please share with us by filling out this form. Your input will help us in mapping initiatives all across the East African region for future ease of reference, so we thank you in advance for your participation.

Based in other areas in East Africa? You are welcome to share with us (in the comments section below, or via the form above), on  any innovative ICT tools used to improve governance in your area.

This study is made possible by the generous support of SIDA and SPIDER.

iHub Research releases Water Governance draft report

Use of mobile technology in promoting transparency issues in water governance



This report details our M-Governance study, which aimed to understand the use of mobile technology in promoting transparency issues in water governance. The report targets mobile developers, water sector specialists, key stakeholders involved in policy-making, regulation and water service development and provision in Kenya drawn from the government sector, civil society organizations, academia and the media.

The methodology used involved literature review, development of study framework tools, mapping, field data collection and analysis. The study covered urban and rural areas of the three counties (Kiambu, Migori, and Makueni) in Kenya. In-depth interviews were conducted with a total of 896 people and key informant discussions with five stakeholders in the water sector in the three counties in Kenya.

 Key Findings

The following are key findings from the study:

a) Main Source of water; a quarter of respondents reported that their main source of water was piped water in their plots. This was followed by 22% who relied on lake/river/ponds or streams as their source of water. 15% depended on protected dug well or spring. The minorities of the surveyed respondents relied on sources such as tankers or trucks from vendors (8%), Piped water in their houses (7%), public taps (7%), unprotected dug wells (6%), and harvested rainwater (2%). Having continuous supply of water from citizens’ main sources is very important as they rely on these sources for survival. Limited access to their main sources in both the rural and urban areas can lead to poor quality in the form of intermittent water supply.

b) Gender equality; majority of those who browse Internet were found to be the males, the question is why more males? It seems majority of female respondents do not know how to browse; 77% of the female who confirmed of not browsing the Internet attributed lack of Internet skills and knowledge as the contributing factor. Not only lack of skills nor knowledge are the limiting factors in embracing Internet but lack of freedom too. Either of the spouse is threatened when one goes online, “My husband prohibits me from using the Internet -he fears I may get a lover from the use of Internet especially Facebook” says one respondent.

c) Literacy levels; from the findings, it is clear that literacy levels still remain a huge hindrance to citizen participation in water governance sector. Of the average 74% respondents who said they have no access to any kind of water information, 76% have no access to formal education compared to the 24% who have access but have no formal education. Similarly, respondents who have primary education had higher information inaccessibility rates compared to those who had post primary education.

d) Access to Information on water; Access to water information is still a huge gap faced by citizens. Only 26% of the interviewed citizens have access to water information leaving almost three-quarters with no access to any kind to water information. Out of the population with no access to any kind of water information, the majority are from the rural areas (73%)

e) Kind of Information currently accessed by the citizens; in rural areas, of those with water information, the majority (35%) currently access water availability updates from informal groups such as water vendor. Most urban residents (32%) have access to information on government water projects.

f) Information citizens would like to accesstopping the list of what citizens want to be informed on is how to treat and make water safe for consumption (31%), where to get clean water (29%) and water rationing schedules (14%).

g) Hindrances in accessing water related information; The majority of respondents (50% and 44% in urban and rural respectively) reported that no one sends them the updates on water information. This stood out as a big challenge due to the fact that citizens are not aware of where to find the water information/updates or whose responsibility it is to inform citizens about water information.

h) Communication channels; phone calls are the most common means through which respondents communicate with their loved ones, business partners and workmates. Hardly a week comes to pass without a phone call being made; in fact 86% of respondents make calls on a daily basis. SMS seconds the list with 77% of respondents sending SMS as a way of communicating (Makueni 85%, Kiambu 76%, and Migori 71%). Unfamiliar to most people is the Internet with 23% of the survey participants browsing the Internet.

i) Best technological platform; over half of the respondents interviewed (51%) believe that SMS would be the best platform for communication between the citizens and the various stakeholders in the water sector. This is indeed true regardless of the age or gender. The catch in use of SMS is pegged on its effectiveness and convenience, 44% of the respondents believe that SMS is convenient and effective to use as compared to other platforms.

j) Reasons as to why citizens suffer in silence; 61% of the respondents had faced challenges while trying to access water and were not able to complain to any one about the problems affecting them. The study affirmatively learned that lack of understanding on whom or where to complain was the major reason as to why most respondents do not complain. 1% of respondents complained that the people to complain to are too far away.

k) Citizen participation; there is no equitable representation in Kenya’s water decision-making process. The women and youth are not well represented, 19% of females participate in water decision-making compared to 24% of male respondents and 18% of the youth. This could be attributed to the fact that the citizens still have a limited understanding of the full range of their roles and responsibilities as rights holders in the water sector. In the long run, this will limit citizens’ effective and meaningful participation in improvement and development of water sector.


Based on these key facts, it is clear that citizen participation and inclusion remains a big challenge in many parts of the country. It is essential that champions of information be identified in each and every part of the country to help educate the citizens on their roles in governance and provide citizens with other necessary information. Technology can play a potential role in ensuring effective communication in accessing information on water.

A guaranteed feedback mechanism and reduced costs of accessing or disseminating information would be a motivating factor to the citizens when it comes to the use of mobile technology in water governance.

There is ample evidence that access and transparency helps ensure accountability and delivery in water provision as well as boosts effectiveness since water is now enshrined  as a human right in our new constitution . There is need to demonstrate this and apply to water service providers. The effectiveness is particularly important in the sense of cost efficiency and ensuring service delivery. We need to learn from these experiences as mentioned in this research – and the underlying values – so that the benefits of civic participation, education, accountability and amplification are well understood and become a norm to ensuring water governance for development and sustainability.

To download the full draft report, visit here

We welcome feedback (both positive and negative) and thoughts into our continuous efforts to improve the research to our final revised report. Feel free to send us your feedback to hilda@ihub.co.ke

*Cross-posted from www.ihub.co.ke