The ICT4Democracy in East Africa network is a partnership of organisations which are actively involved in enhancing civic empowerment for improved governance, accountability and engagement with leadership. Founded in 2011, with seed funding from the Swedish Program for ICTs in Developing Regions (Spider), the network brings together organisations in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Partners in each country have embarked upon projects that aim to build democracy through the use of ICTs in enhancing communication, access to information and the right to freedom of expression. These projects are driven by the shared vision of the immense potential that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have in increasing citizens’ participation in decision-making processes and strengthening democratisation.
In 2013, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) provided support to further the work of the network during 2014 and 2015. The partners in the network are: the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), Transparency International Uganda (TIU), the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), iHub Research (Kenya), the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (Tanzania), Toro Development Network (ToroDev), and Spider. CIPESA is the regional network coordinator.
The overall aim of the network is to increase civic participation and its role in strengthening democracy, transparency and governance through the use of ICTs in the East African region. The individual partner projects tackle issues such as corruption, service delivery, respect for human rights, and freedom of expression through the use of mobile short message services (SMS), toll free call centre, FM radio, social media like Facebook and Twitter, crowd sourcing platforms as well as direct community engagement.
Each partner has formulated their own approach towards the use of ICTs in democracy built upon four shared goals:
- Promoting access and dissemination of information for improved government openness, transparency, accountability andservice delivery
- Up-skilling the capacity of civic groups, including human rights networks, voluntary social accountability committees (VSACs), and citizen journalists on how to best use ICT to foster free speech, human rights, access to information and open governance
- Engaging policy makers and duty bearers on the need to provide regular and timely information on service delivery, human rights and governance to the citizenry using a range of ICT and non-ICT platforms
- Gender mainstreaming in civil knowledge, ICT skills and in governance process participation.