Uganda is a ripe state for open governance data
By Flavia Fascendini for APCNews
PERGAMINO, Argentina, 05 July 2012
The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) continues to grow in Uganda and presents a number of alternatives in the delivery of services both from the public and private sectors. The country’s technological infrastructure, the legal and policy framework in place, and the increasing demand for transparency and accountability through the use of ICT makes Uganda a ripe state for open governance data (OGD).
As a result of the research in open government data in Uganda in the context of APC’s Action Research Network, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) developed three reports: the first looks at perceptions of citizens on open governance in the country; the second assesses Uganda’s readiness to open up government data; and the third describes the process developed for the open governance network building in the country.
1: Assessment of citizens’ perceptions of open governance in Uganda
The aim of this study was to capture citizens’ perceptions of open governance in Uganda, with an intention to make prospective open governance initiatives in the country responsive to the needs and aspirations of citizens.
The study revealed that there is a high level of knowledge about open governance in Uganda, as well as great expectations of the benefits which OGD would bring to the country. Numerous benefits were mentioned such as raising accountability by duty bearers, minimising corruption, promoting transparency, encouraging citizen participation in governance, monitoring service delivery, and aiding private sector innovation. But, like the state is likely to argue, there were also fears about opening up government data, such as misrepresentations and misinformation, increase in violent demonstrations and strikes as backlash from disgruntled citizens, mutiny in the armed forces, as well the increased administration costs associated with preparing data for open access. These fears need to be managed by both the state and by civil actors advocating open governance in order to convince both citizens and government that OGD is for the good of the country.
This study establishes a key reference point which government should build on to roll out OGD, and which civil society can use in advocating and raising awareness about open governance in Uganda.
2: Open government data readiness study in Uganda
This study assessed Uganda’s readiness to open up government data. It explored three basic tenets with regards to readiness: knowledge, attitudes and practice. In undertaking a study of this nature, it was imperative to appreciate how knowledgeable the key actors were about the subject matter, their attitudes towards the subject matter and current practices.
Besides from assessing the open data readiness in Uganda, this study’s overall objective was also to recommend actions needed for the country to implement OGD and move to the openness levels that countries grouped under the Open Government initiative are working to attain.
Some Ugandan institutions are performing very well as far as making available data and information is concerned. However, there is a need to transcend from the micro that is the smaller units to a national level. This requires having in place structures, systems, infrastructure and the right mindset to converge all government data into a single location. Moreover, this should be supported by appropriate regulations and standards that conform to OGD initiatives.
Interestingly, the study concludes that Uganda is ready to implement OGD with appropriate support and guidance.
3: Open governance network building in Uganda
Between January and April 2012, CIPESA conducted the studies on open governance in Uganda mentioned previously under APC’s Action Research Network. These studies were intended to form the basis of awareness-raising, advocacy and network building activities. The work already done should serve as a springboard for future possible activities to advocate for open governance, to build a network of actors that steadily raise awareness and advocate for open governance and who make use of open government data. The network building should also reinforce advocacy work to make government open up data to the public. This third report registers the process of the open governance network building achieved during the research process in Uganda. It describes the advocacy and awareness raising developed through meetings and interviews with more than 30 individuals, the use of mailing lists and social media to create awareness about open governance, dissemination and advocacy for OGD and network development with identified key organisations.
These documents were developed by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in the context of the Association for Progressive Communications’ Action Research Network, a project supported by the International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC).
Photo by International Rivers . Used with permission under Creative Commons license 2.0 .