Showcasing Civic and Social Tech in East Africa

By Ashnah Kalemera |

As access to information and communication technologies (ICT) has continued to grow across Africa, so have technology-based initiatives that enable social accountability and the participation of citizens in promoting transparency and accountability in government operations.
In Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, there is a growing number of government portals for public sector information (PSI) provision, responding to complaints about quality of public services or for corruption whistle-blowing, and generally making PSI more readily available, such as open data portals and budget information websites.
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SMS as an enabler of the Right to Health in Tanzania

By Ashnah Kalemera |

In its pursuit to establish strategic mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights in Tanzania, the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) is progressing awareness on the right to health among vulnerable communities and human rights practitioners in five regions in Tanzania.

CHRAGG’s recent drive which commenced in August 2016 and leverages the existing SMS for Human Rights reporting system has seen capacity building of over 100 staff at its head office in Dar es Salaam and three regional offices in (location of offices) to improve their understating of the right to health and enable them appropriately handle related violation reports received through the platform.

Furthermore, nearly 200 individuals including sexual minorities, the elderly, women, health workers and local leaders have been trained on the principles of right to health to increase their awareness and ability to monitor and report on the same. The training beneficiaries constituted 61% female.  Continue Reading →

A Year In Review 2015: ICT4Democracy In East Africa

The intersection of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and civic engagement continues to gain popularity as more citizens adopt the use of tools to engage with each other, and with civic organisations and the state. While empirical evidence suggests that the rate at which this is happening remains debatable, the ICT4Democracy in East Africa network is using various forms of ICT tools to promote civic participation in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and working to overcome challenges such as gender and geographical disparity in use of ICT.
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Promoting Access to Information and Digital Safety Awareness among Tanzanian Journalists For Upcoming Elections

By Gasirigwa G.S |

As the 25 October general election draws closer in Tanzania, journalists have been urged to be impartial in their reporting. Many have also taken steps to ensure that their digital communication is not compromised particularly when seeking information during the electioneering period.

In August, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Tanzania Chapter, in partnership with the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) organized two training workshops on access to information with special focus on digital safety for Media practitioners in Tanzania. A total of 40 journalists (13 women and 27 men) from Geita, Mara, Mwanza and Dar es Salaam received practical digital safety skills against a backdrop of discussion on the Access to Information and Media Services bills as well as the recently passed Cybercrime Act 2015 and Statistics Act, also of 2015..

The objective of the workshops was to enhance knowledge and skills of selected media personnel in various outlets in order to enable them to access relevant information, cover and report  factually and responsibly during the 2015 general election.

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Advancing Open Data Implementation in Africa

By Ashnah Kalemera

The push for open data that contributes to government transparency and accountability in service delivery and promotes citizens’ right to information and innovation in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector continues to gain prominence globally. Indeed, open data has been recognised as a key pillar of sustainable development. However, implementation of open data by African governments, civil society and the private sector is mostly in its infant stages, with some countries recording more success than others.

The demand and supply of open data in Africa is faced with numerous challenges including lack of complete data, authoritarian regimes, multiple fragmented actors, limited technical skills and capacity, inadequate infrastructure and low literacy rates.

On September 4-5, 2015, the government of Tanzania and the World Bank hosted the first Open Data Conference in Africa, that brought together the emerging open data community in Africa to showcase innovations and discuss opportunities and challenges to open data implementation.

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ICT and Governance in East Africa: Kampala Dissemination

BY VARYANNE SIKA,  IHUB RESEARCH
iHub Research, with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the ICT4Democracy East Africa Network, conducted a study on the landscape of ICTs and Governance in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in 2014. This study was a qualitative exploration of the various ways in which ICT tools can/have successfully facilitated or hindered the two-way interaction between government and citizens towards effective public service delivery, tracking corruption, rights/access to information, as well as increasing transparency and accountability. The study was conducted in two towns (one urban and one peri-urban) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

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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. Continue Reading →

ICT4Democracy in East Africa Participates in 2014 International Conference on e-Democracy & Open Governance (CeDEM14) in Krems, Austria

The ICT4Democracy in East Africa Network was in May 2014 represented by Johnstone Baguma of Toro Development Network and Wilfred Warioba from the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) at the 2014 International Conference on e-Democracy & Open Governance (CeDEM14) in Krems, Austria. They presented research papers on the network’s projects on leveraging ICTs to promote good governance and human rights in Uganda and Tanzania.

During the conference, Baguma chaired a session on “Citizens’ Participation in Governance Processes through ICT in Eastern Africa”. This track was a new inclusion in the conference proceedings, having been lobbied for inclusion by network members during CeDem2013.

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SMS System Boosts Reporting of Human Rights Abuses in Tanzania

Growing the capacity of citizens and civic groups including human rights networks to use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to foster free speech, human rights, access to information and open governance is one of the objectives of the ICT4Democracy in East Africa Network. Since April 2014, the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) in Tanzania has conducted a campaign to raise awareness about the SMS for Human Rights system throughout Tanzania.

The system, which was launched on Human Rights Day in December 2012, has made it easier for citizens to report human rights violations to the Commission. In 2013, a total of 173,493 complaints were received through the system. Since then, the number of complaints filed with the Commission has averaged more than 100 per week compared to 10 per week prior to the system’s installation.

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