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.

Read more

The State of the Use of ICTs in Governance in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania

Edited by Nanjira Sambuli & Varyanne Sika |

Late last year, I accompanied the Executive Director of Mzalendo when she went to deliver awards to some of the winners of Shujaaz Awards. The awards were part of an undertaking that recognized efforts by Members of Parliament whose activities in the House had the biggest positive impact on the Common Mwananchi. The winners were chosen via public voting that was conducted through Twitter. Read more

ICT and Governance in East Africa: Preliminary Fieldwork Findings (Part 2)- Apac and Lira

By Albert Otieno,

This is a brief summary of our preliminary findings from interviews and focus group discussions on thoughts of ICTs in governance from the CSOs, NGOs and the citizens in general in Apac and Lira, two towns in northern Uganda. One of the research questions sought to understand the challenges facing the society and how ICT tools can be used to address them.

Among the CSOs we interviewed were Citizen Action Platform (by The Apac Anti-Corruption Coalition), Kubere Information CentreConcerned Children and Youth Association, Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, Corruption Brakes Crusade and Lira NGO Forum

For preliminary findings in the other Uganda study site, click here.

Lack of information brought about by high levels of poverty is one of the major challenges facing the society in the two regions (Apac and Lira); according to the participants of the focus group discussion in Lira district (Uganda), poverty remains a ‘killer disease’ affecting many people in the society. Poor people are ignorant even of their rights. A poor person has no access to a radio or the phone which means that access to information is also limited. Poor people cannot go to school. Service delivery is poor because people are poor; “The police complement the little salary they get by asking for bribes”,commented one of the FGD participantsThis is in relation to the poverty levels experienced by the police officers and the fact that the citizens lack information on their rights.


Figure 1: A section of participants during the focus group discussion at The Apac Anti-Corruption Coalition (TACC) offices

The importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in solving issues affecting the society cannot be overruled.  ICT has been raised as a new feature in Northern Uganda in sectors such as education, health and agriculture. Radio is one of the popular and quickest means of reaching the wider public with information. Many NGOs such as The Apac Anti-Corruption Coalition (TACC) and Transparency International Uganda have exploited the use of radio to reach a critical mass with anti-corruption messages given that it is the only electronic form of communication that is widely accessible and affordable for the rural communities to access information.


Figure 2: A section of participants during the focus group discussion at Amach Health centre in Lira

Daniel Okello from Lira NGO Forum notes that ICTs are important tools in promoting good governance in the society; however, they have to be made cheap and affordable for access. “I have observed that people tend to make calls on the radio stations at night when call rates are extremely low. This has prompted us to start a toll-free line in order to enable everyone to raise complaints and compliments on issues affecting them without fear of running out of credit”, says Mr. Okello.

Scenarios where ICT has been useful:

  1. The Government of Uganda started an initiative to develop Northern Uganda through a project dubbed Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) where goats were bought for the locals with an aim of supporting livelihood investment. “At one time some officials bought a goat and exaggerated the price to be 500,000 UGX while in the real sense the goat would have cost 3 UGX!”, exclaimed one of the FGD participants. Through ICT (use of radios and TV) the matter was brought to the limelight and the culprits had to face the rule of law. This is after the citizens raised complaints over the radios. The president received the news of the malpractices going on and commanded that action be taken against the perpetrators (those involved in the goat scandal).
  2. According to the respondents in Apac, the use of ICT in governance has borne some fruits; problems have been minimized through the use of ICTs; there is transparency and power has been brought closer to the people e.g. the use of toll-free lines has elicited courage and strength among the citizens in reporting issues to do with service delivery in the hospitals, schools and other important sectors. (See ‘Governance is for Non-Urbanites’, from part 1 of this blog post series for an interesting contrast). At the same time ICT has created fear among teachers, health workers and other government employees and as such majority try to do their best not to be caught by the ‘hook’, a fact that was attested by one teacher who was part of the FGDs in Apac.

Motivations to use ICTs in Governance

The citizens are motivated by the fact that one does not need to travel to go and report-”You can report the case wherever you are”, says one of the FGD participants. The use of ICT has further washed away the fear of getting victimised; this has boosted the morale of the citizens to continue using ICT in reporting issues affecting them in the society. The fact that the organizations mandated to oversee transparency in service delivery are quick to respond also motivates the citizens a lot to continue reporting the cases whenever they come across issues that require attention of such organizations. This was true for both the citizens in Apac and Lira. The idea of using toll-free lines is also serving as a motivation to many of the citizens across Apac and Lira. Many organizations have realized the need for the same (toll-free lines) and have either implemented or are in the process of implementing them.


De-motivations to using ICTs in Governance

The key de-motivating factor when it comes to the use of ICTs in Governance is in regard to the cost. This was unanimous for both citizen respondents in Lira and Apac. Generally, the participants in both FGDs strongly felt it was somehow expensive to maintain the phone regularly. This is caused by the fact that many houses are not connected to the grid and as such majority of the citizens are compelled to charge their phones from the shops which costs 500 UGX. Toll-free lines have been a motivation to many citizens to engage with various initiatives. However, not all the organizations have rolled out this system; citizens are therefore compelled to use their airtime in order to engage with some of the initiatives (SMS and phone call-based ones). This, therefore, limits the ICT engagement levels between the citizens and the organizations since many citizens can’t afford the extra airtime cost.

Having successfully conducted our first round of fieldwork in Uganda we are now planning similar fieldwork in Tanzania (Dar-es-Salaam and Mwanza) where we hope to engage with citizens, government officials and the CSOs/NGOs on ICTs in governance.

Our study on ICT and Governance in East Africa is made possible by the generous support of SIDA and SPIDER,

*Please note: These are not all or the official findings of our study. The final report which will be made available will contain comprehensive findings from our study from all the three East African countries.


ICT and Governance in East Africa: Preliminary Fieldwork Findings (Part 1) Kampala and Fort Portal (Uganda)

The ICT and Governance in East Africa study explores the various ways in which ICT tools can/have successfully facilitated or hindered two way interaction between government and citizens towards effective public service delivery, curbing corruption and increasing transparency and accountability. Further we are looking into the innovative ICT initiatives that have facilitated the interaction between citizen and government as well as the (de)motivations for utilizing ICT tools among the various stakeholders (citizens, governments, civil society).


Uganda was the first country we visited to conduct fieldwork in July 2014. We visited four sites: Kampala, Fort Portal, Lira and Apac. (Find a brief article on how the study sites were selectedhere).

This article highlights some of the *findings from Kampala, the Ugandan capital, and Fort Portal, one of the towns in the Western part of Uganda. (In part 2 of this blog post series, preliminary findings from Apac and Lira in northern Uganda will be discussed).

We used semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) to collect our data. A summary of the methodology we are using for this study can be found here. In Kampala, we interviewed various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Kampala, a government institution (Uganda Human Rights Commission) and various developers and managers of the ICTs used in governance in Kampala. Among the CSOs we interviewed were U-Report which is a UNICEF initiative, DevTrac which is also a UNICEF initiative, Parliament Watch Uganda and some of our partner organizations in the ICT4Democracy EA network.

The ICT and Governance in East Africa study explores the various ways in which ICT tools can/have successfully facilitated or hindered two way interaction between government and citizens towards effective public service delivery, curbing corruption and increasing transparency and accountability. Further we are looking into the innovative ICT initiatives that have facilitated the interaction between citizen and government as well as the (de)motivations for utilizing ICT tools among the various stakeholders (citizens, governments, civil society).

DevTrac Screeenshot

A Screenshot of one of the projects we interviewed, DevTrac which is a UNICEF initiative.

Major Challenges
The issues raised as being the most pressing on governance by the respondents in the focus group discussions, primarily ordinary citizens, were youth unemployment and corruption. These two issues were therefore the main drivers of any kind of engagement the FGD participants said they would engage with government, whether using ICT tools or otherwise.


Discussion at Hive Colab in Kampala

Governance is for ‘Non-Urbanites’
Despite Kampala being the capital of Uganda and therefore enjoying more ICT infrastructure, the participants at the FGD which we held at HiveColab (one of Kampala’s ICT hubs and a coworking space) were not as aware of existing ICT tools used in governance as the participants at Fort Portal (Western Uganda) were. The group of participants in Kampala have better access to ICTs given the fact that they frequent an ICT hub and live in an urban area which has better ICT infrastructure. On the other hand, Fort Portal, a small peri-urban town has less developed ICT infrastructure in comparison to Kampala, however, despite this fact, participants in Fort Portal were more aware of ICT tools used for governance in the country compared to the participants in Kampala. The group of participants in Kampala have better access to ICTs given the fact that they frequent an ICT hub and live in an urban area which has better ICT infrastructure. On the other hand, Fort Portal, a small peri-urban town has less developed ICT infrastructure in comparison to Kampala, however, despite this fact, participants in Fort Portal were more aware of ICT tools used for governance in the country compared to the participants in Kampala.

‘Toll-Free’ Governance
One of the most dominant ICT tools for governance that we found in Kampala (second to radio in Uganda generally) was toll-free numbers, which are mostly government-led initiatives such as the Uganda Human Rights Commission’s toll-free number, the National Water and Sewage Corporation’s toll-free number, UMEME’s (Uganda’s power and lighting company) and the Police’s. The numbers are widely publicized in newspapers, on billboards, television and radio. The general feedback from the citizens who use or have used the numbers, however, is that the toll-free numbers work, but it is difficult to get someone to listen to one’s complaints or concerns.

De-motivation to using ICTs in Governance
The key de-motivating force that prevents use of the ICT tools made available for interaction with government, is the lack of action on issues raised by the citizens. This was unanimous for both citizen respondents in Kampala and Fort Portal. Generally, the participants in both FGDs strongly felt it was no use trying to communicate with the government because nothing would change. We got a general sense of apathy and lack of faith in the effectiveness of citizen interaction with government from the citizens with whom we spoke.For tools deployed by non-government actors such as UNICEF’s U-Report, respondents were of the opinion that the tool is effective enough as far achieving its technical objectives, however they did not know which changes the tool had brought about in the country.

When ICT for Governance Works
There are situations in which ICT tools worked to facilitate two-way interaction between citizens and government. Generally, these were cases in which citizens were taught how to use the technologies and situations in which simple and low-tech tools had been deployed. Examples of these include U-Report which uses SMS, community radio such as TracFM which has interactive talk shows and digital cameras to take pictures of the debilitating state of public service delivery like in the case of the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) project on Voluntary Social Accountability. WOUGNET’s social accountability project involves a group of 15 selected members in a district who are given digital cameras to report cases of poor public service delivery such as poorly maintained hospitals or schools, but they also share cases of successful public service delivery.

Our study on ICT and Governance in East Africa is made possible by the generous support of SIDA and SPIDER,

*Please note: These are not all or the official findings of our study. The final report which will be made available will contain comprehensive findings from our study from all the three East African countries.

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

*Cross-posted from

ICT4Democracy Network at 2012 Africa-Eu Cooperation Week On ICT–e-Government & e-Democracy session

iHub Research and CIPESA attended the 2012 Africa-EU Cooperation Week on ICT from Nov. 26-30, 2012 in Lisbon, Portugal to participate in the e-Government & e-Democracy session. Vasilis Koulolias of Gov2U and Angela Crandall of iHub Research moderated the e-Gov/e-Dem discussion session. Ashnah Kalemera of CIPESA represented the ICT4Democracy Network. The 90-minute session was attended by a range of stakeholders including the African Development Bank, academics from Europe, technology consultants from Africa and Europe, and government representatives.

The e-Gov/e-Dem session opened by asking panelists their opinion on the conditions that need to be in place for e-governance to work. Participants gave examples from their own work and emphasized that one needs to be sure to understand the problem and the role of ICT before beginning to implement an e-Governance initiative. Some of the additional key conditions that the panelists also raised included: trust in the technology; political will; organizational setting; cultural, social and technological maturity. Panelists also agreed that in many cases, a change of mindset is needed both from governments as well as citizens and other stakeholders.

Some of the blockers to e-government initiatives that were raised by the panel were the hierarchical nature of governments as well as lack of mechanisms for accountability. At the end of the session, it was agreed that there is no magic recipe for the implementation of e-Governance, but a conceptual model is needed of how e-Governance/e-Democracy can work that can then be localized for the specific governance issue one is trying to solve. Transformational change is still very much needed in individual and institutional mindsets, and the way forward is both challenging and exciting.

For the PowerPoint used to set the scene for the e-Governance/e-Democracy session, see:

For an overall summary of the conference see:

The 2012 Africa-EU Cooperation Forum on ICT Opens

The 2012 Africa-EU Cooperation Forum on ICT opened today, Wednesday November 28, 2012 in Lisbon, Portugal. Under the theme Teaming-up for a strengthened and coordinated approach to foster Euro-African innovative cooperation on ICT, the two day forum will bring together European and African stakeholders in the public and private sectors involved in collaborative ICT research and ICT for development to share knowledge and experiences. Furthermore, discuss policy related issues.

The ICT4Democracy in East Africa Network is participating in the forum under the eGovernment & eDemocracy track.

Session chair: Angela Crandall, iHub Research
Panellist: Ashnah Kalemera, CIPESA

The objectives of this session are to understand the different eGovernment/ eDemocracy initiatives being undertaken, discuss the progress being made in governance through the use of mobile tools, and identify the challenges that need to be overcome in order to scale and sustain eDemocracy/ eGovernment initiatives.

The 5th in its series, the event is organised by the EuroAfrica-ICT initiative under the aegis of the European and the African Unions Commissions.

Read more about the forum here.

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.


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