By Bernard Sabiti researcher at DRT. This blog was originally published on the DRT website.
Representatives of government, NGOs and CSOs, donors, academia, tech community and community-based actors converged at Hotel African in Kampala on June 5, 2014 to discuss the findings of the ODDC case study, “How open data could contribute to poverty eradication in Kenya and Uganda through its impacts on resource allocation”. The study set out to compare Kenya and Uganda on open data, transparency and accountability and poverty eradication by studying a set of open data initiatives in both countries.
The event was a culmination of over a year of study carried out by Development Initiatives and Development Research and Training, whose Overall objective was to establish whether open data initiatives in both countries contribute in any significant way to the process of allocating resources intended for poverty eradication, and/or whether a potential for such impact exists.
Over the study period, we took opportunities to contribute to the growth of the open data movement in the two countries by participating in debates, forums and discussions on openness and transparency, and by engaging both government and non-government actors on the importance of open data in the allocation of resources. The result is that open data has at least joined the majority of development discussions at government fora and key institutions like Uganda Bureau of Statistics and The Kenya ICT board and the Ministries of Finance of the two governments are now our key partners. We also were able to leverage the opportunity the study gave to enrich our other projects with similar goals.
Our key finding is that although there was no clear link between open data and resource allocation, largely because of political economy factors, digital divide, policy incoherence among other factors, the potential for this link is apparent because of equally strong drivers of open data processes in both countries.
The dissemination event was graced by The Hon. Vincent Bagiire, Ugandan Member of Parliament and the chair of the parliamentary select committee on Science and ICT. Hon Bagiire thanked the researchers and their funders for pioneering such a study in Uganda and expressed hope that this can only open the way for open movements to become mainstream in Uganda and Kenya. A former founding director of collaboration on international ICT policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) before he joined politics, Mr. Bagiire is well versed with Open data and ICT issues and their role in transparency and resource allocation. He invited the research team to present the findings to his committee.
Mr. Charles Lwanga Ntale, co-leader of the study, discussed the “data revolution and implication for East Africa” and highlighted the importance of understanding the socio-political context. He added that for open data to have significant impact, it has to be about more than just data, but also nuance, translation of data into policy messages for action, and ensuring all interlocutors in the open data ecosystem work together.
The event provided a platform in which the variety of participants offered different perspectives to the open data debate and in the end helped increase the cross-sectoral, multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary understanding of open data, which is otherwise a relatively new concept in the region. Read the full report.
Another dissemination is set for Nairobi, Kenya on June 19.