Citizens’ Perceptions on Open Government Data in Uganda

In addition to the study assessing Uganda’s Open Government Readiness, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) assessed citizens’ perceptions on open governance.

Based on a questionnaire, the study established that in Uganda there is a high level of knowledge about open governance, as well as great expectations of the benefits which Open Governance Data (OGD) would bring. Amongst the benefits mentioned were raising accountability by duty bearers, minimising corruption, promoting transparency, encouraging citizen participation in governance, monitoring service delivery, and aiding private sector innovation.

However, concerns were raised about the potential for misrepresentations and misinformation, increase in violent demonstrations as backlash from disgruntled citizens and 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.

The study made clear indications of what departments/ ministries should open up their data as a priority, and also identified various forms of data that citizens need to have greater access to. Moreover, the study has shown that the level of openness in government departments is severely low, even though there are laws that call for openness, and despite having clear examples of how increased openness results into public good. Government therefore needs to show greater political will to become more open, and this will need to be manifested in bold actions rather than simple declarations.

Whereas the results are not representative of Ugandan’s perceptions on open governance, they show a critical mass for demand and usage of open government data. The 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.

The study was conducted in the context of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Action Research Network, a project supported by the International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC).

Download the full report here.

See also assessment of open government data readiness in Uganda and Q&A with the research coordinator.

 

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