The Information and Communications Technologies 4 Democracy (ICT4D) Network in East Africa was established in 2012 and initiated by Spider partners in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. ICT4D aims to harness information and communication technologies (ICTs) to achieve economic, social and political goals in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
ICT4D seeks to enhance communication between ordinary citizens and duty bearers at both regional and national level, so as to advance the right to seek, receive and impart information that supports civic empowerment and good governance using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
We tackle issues relating to corruption, service delivery monitoring, upholding respect for human rights, and promoting civic engagement in the three countries of operation (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania).
ICT4D is composed of the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), Transparency International Uganda (TIU), the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), iHub Research (Kenya), the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (Tanzania), and the Toro Development Network (ToroDev).
How we Work
The ICT4Democracy network enhances communication between ordinary citizens and duty bearers at a regional and national level in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by advancing the right to seek, receive and impart information that supports civic empowerment and good governance using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
The network is composed of seven partners who use mobile messaging (short message services), FM radio, social media like Facebook and Twitter, toll free call centres, crowd sourcing platforms as well as direct community engagement.
The network partners work with grassroots-based organisations, local governments, policy makers, voluntary social accountability committees (VSACs), academia, the tech community, civil society organisations and media in the use and promotion of ICT in governance.
Issues we Address
Each of the network partners has built their work around one or more of four key issues. With an increased understanding and use of ICT that supports civic empowerment, democratic participation and good governance.
Low tech, low cost ICT use
Despite the dropping costs of ICT tools, many citizens are still unable to afford trendy gadgets such as smart phones, and these rely on more electrical requirement and data access unlike feature phones. The information loop is challenged by issues of electricity, access to ICT tools by women and illiteracy.. Read more>>
Promoting e-Participation and Access To Information
At the core of the ICT4Democracy in East Africa network is the goal of increased civic participation primarily in rural and remote areas. All three countries have large populations living in areas with limited basic services but who should contribute and voice their concerns and opinions on service delivery, governance and many other issues that affect their communities and livelihood. Read more>>
Enhancing Social Accountability
Access to information and the right to exercise freedom of expression are synonymous. ICT tools are enabling citizens to reach information previously unattainable, its lack thereof, contributing to rampant corruption, poor service delivery and lack of accountability. Read more>>
The exclusion of women from online engagement reflects the inequalities present offline. In rural areas this is further compounded with higher levels of illiteracy, low finance levels, limited access to ICT and cultural practices used to perpetuate exclusion of women.
The socio-economic and political status of East Africa influences the approaches and of ICT to advance the promotion of good governance, citizen participation, human rights and service delivery monitoring in the countries of the network partners. Both similarities and dissimilarities are shared between the network countries including on issues of legislation, law enforcement, and infrastructure.
Election periods in East Africa have previously been characterised by a higher degree of intolerance for critical opinion (both by ruling party officials and by the government). Incidents of violence against civilians, human rights defenders and the media have also been common, although never anywhere near the level of Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence. Online hate speech has also been known to escalate during election periods, with resultant heightened efforts by authorities to hunt for offenders. Kenya’s 2013 elections where markedly peaceful and the economy remained stable. October 2015, Tanzania held elections which saw Joseph Magufuli replace Jakaya Kikwete as President. Uganda goes to the polls in February 2016, with President Yoweri Museveni – in power for the last 29 years – expected to contest. A stark similarity across the three countries is the increased use of social media tools by both citizens and contenders.
Tanzania has for two years been debating a new constitution with the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), pushing for various fractious proposals. To date, there remains little progress due to postponement. Uganda is also debating numerous amendments to its constitution. The constitution making exercises provide civil society an opportunity to propose progressive amendments to the supreme laws.