Online Meeting: Promoting Transparent Covid-19 Data Governance In Uganda

Invitation |

March 6, 2021 is Open Data Day, an annual celebration of open data all over the world which provides an opportunity to show the benefits of open data and encourage the adoption of open data policies in government, business, and civil society. This year, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), in partnership with the Open Institute will convene an online discussion to understand how decisions regarding the access and use of data in Uganda are made. 

Discussion Panel

  • Stella Alibateesa; Director for Regulation and Legal Services at NITA-Uganda
  • Dorothy Mukasa – Chief Executive Officer, Unwanted Witness
  • Bernard Sabiiti – Senior Strategic Partnerships & Engagement Manager,  Development Initiative
  • Atek Kagirita – Covid-19 incident commander at the Ministry of Health
  • Gabriel Iguma – Talk show host, Radio One (Moderator)
Join the online meeting on March 6, 2021 at 10h00-11h30 (EAT)
Register here

Two Years of CIPESA’s Fellowship Programme

Fellows |
In 2017, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) introduced its fellowship programme. The media fellowship aims to raise media understanding of, and its effective and consistent reporting of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) -for-democracy issues in East Africa towards increased quality and regularity of reporting, as well as a greater diversity of voices, in coverage related to ICT, democracy and human rights.
The academia fellowship aims to nurture university students’ and early career academics’ understanding of ICT for governance, human rights and development. By engaging members of the academic community, the programme benefits partners of the ICT4Democracy in East Africa network through placements of individuals with skills in fields such as ICT, mass communication, and informatics, within the partner organisations. Ultimately, the programme aims to grow links between the academic community and practitioners in the ICT field for mutual research, learning and knowledge exchange, so as to create the next generation of ICT for democracy and ICT for human rights champions and researchers.
Since its launch, six fellows representing east and western Africa, as well as Asia have participated in the programme, with a wide range of outputs including commentaries, broadcast content, multimedia content and journal articles. The learning and experiences of the fellows so far have informed CIPESA’s contributions to the to the curriculum review and development for a Masters in eGovernance programme at Makerere University. Furthermore, CIPESA’s engagements with the Makerere University Development Informatics Research Group on the role academics should play to contribute to the national and global development agenda, including through producing actionable knowledge, creating closer linkages with development practitioners and seeking ways to influence policy making.

Media Fellow Emmanuel Kajubu assessed the performance of elected leaders in Western Uganda, a year after they were voted into office. Many of them had committed to improve service delivery in education and health if they were elected.

Kajubu focussed on the districts of Kabarole, Kasese, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Ntoroko and Kamwenge, which form the Rwenzori region, and worked in collaboration with ICT4Democracy in East Africa partner Toro Development Network (ToroDev).
In interviews with the electorate, some members of the community said that after being elected, the leaders had not returned to consult them on issues affecting the community or fulfilled pledges made during campaigns. In response, many of the elected officials argued that they were constrained to carry out monitoring and supervision of government projects due to lack of funds.
His stories were published on the Uganda Radio Network website, an online news agency, and on the Toro Development Network website.

He also developed an eight-minute radio feature which summarised the views of the electorate and local leaders. It was broadcast on Hits FM Radio in Fort Portal on October 22, 2017. The radio station works with ToroDev and serves as a platform for the community in Western Uganda to air out issues affecting them and also for leaders to be accountable to the community.

Media Fellow Lilian Kaivilu is a multimedia journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya, with a keen focus on Innovations, Gender, Health, Business and Development stories.
Lilian works as a writing consultant with the World Bank Group and is also the founder of Impacthub Media, an online media platform that focuses on Development, Health and Innovation stories from Kenyan communities.
She has previously worked as a reporter for the Global Press Journal, Kenya News Desk. She has also worked as a Features reporter at Mediamax Network Limited (People Daily Newspaper), and as a sub editor at Shrend Publishers and Supplies Limited.
Lilian is a Bloomberg Media Initiative fellow (Strathmore Business School), Safaricom Business Journalism fellow (Strathmore Business School), Kenya Institute of Mass
Communication Journalism Graduate and a Linguistics, Media and Communication graduate from Moi University. In addition, she is currently taking Digital Capacity Building training by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is also pursuing the WAN-IFRA’s Media Management course.
For her fellowship tenure, in the run up to Kenya’s 2016 elections, Lillian covered stories on ICT for rural access to information, how ICT is transforming Nairobi’s Kibera slum, challenges to political participation by rural populations and local innovations in maternal health care.

Marvin Bwire, another fellow from Nairobi, Kenya worked to profile and raising awareness about female genital mutilation in Meru and empowering women in politics in Kenya through video.  He worked with the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), a member of the ICT4Democracy in East Africa Network.
Marvin is a film production graduate from the Multimedia University of Kenya and a practicing journalist. His work is built upon the pillar of the right to information for all and the use of ICT as an avenue to provide information to the public.

Wanjiru Mburu is an ICT4D researcher who is passionate about using ICT to bridge the healthcare digital divide in developing countries.
She holds a bachelors degree and masters degree both in Computer Science, and is currently a Ph.D. student at the ICT4D center, University of Cape Town. Her research interests are mainly in human-computer interaction for development (HCI4D) and mobile health fields.
For her fellowship, Wanjiru worked with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC), to research how ICT platforms can be used to educate mothers of preterm infants on their health rights in Kenya. A journal article from this fellowship was accepted in the 6th International Conference on Mobile Communication Technology for Development (M4D2018) conference proceedings which was held in Kampala, Uganda in December 2018.
Sotheavin Doch holds a bachelor degree in Environmental Science and a masters degree in Disaster Risk and Resilience. She was a Research Assistant for the BBC Media Action in Cambodia and is a Research and Partnership Officer with Open Development Cambodia (ODC). She supports ODC’s team to promote and teach use of ODC’s site as an open data platform. She organises training for citizens citizen journalists local authorities and others stakeholders to access information of public services’ services/fee digitized on ODC’s website and also conducts training on ‘data-driven journalism’ to journalist students in Cambodia to generate and analyse data into their news reports to develop a new way of telling stories with data or evidence.
Sotheavin joined CIPESA as part of the South South Media Lab (SSMLab) in-residence program which aims at increasing networking and collaboration within the media sector between South-East Asia and East Africa. The residencies took place during November and December 2018.
As part of the fellowship, Sotheavin worked on the use of open data and open source technology to promote public service delivery. She also conducted a training for journalists on data-driven reporting methods, through engagements and needs assessments with ICT4Democarcy Network partners CIPESA, Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) and Transparency International (TI) Uganda.
Tomiwa Ilori was hosted as a fellow by CIPESA as part of his Masters study in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa at the University of Pretoria. He undertook research related to his study in the area of constitutional law.
He contributed to CIPESA’s policy analysis work by researching and producing commentaries on How Nigeria and Uganda are Faring on the Right to Information and consumer protection.
Tomiwa has experience working on digital rights in Nigeria and was also in charge of ongoing strategic litigation suits with respect to digital rights infringement in Nigeria by Paradigm Initiative. He is the coordinator of the NetRights Africa Coalition.

Leveraging ICT to Promote the Right to Information in Uganda: Insights from Ask Your Government Portal

By Loyce Kyogabirwe |
Despite the existence of legal and regulatory frameworks that promote the right to information, access to public information remains a big challenge in Uganda. The potential of ICT to promote citizens’ access to information is widely acknowledged and in 2014, the government and civil society partners launched the Ask Your Government (AYG) web platform that allows citizens to make online information requests to government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
However, four years on, it is evident that most citizens might not be aware of their right to information let alone the procedures for accessing information and data that is held by public bodies. Meanwhile, public officials continue to ignore citizens’ information requests despite efforts to equip both the duty bearers and rights holders, including information officers, journalists as well as women’s rights organisations,  with knowledge and skills on rights and responsibilities.
User statistics from the AYG portal show an increase in the number of requests as well as number of public agencies registered on the portal. Between 2014 and 2016, only 243 requests were submitted to 76 agencies. But by June 2018, the number of information requests submitted had reached 2,450, to 106 MDAs (20 Ministries, 60 Departments and Agencies and 26 to Local Government Officials).  

Use of the Ask Your Gov Uganda platform between 2013 and 2018

The highest number of information requests have been submitted to the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) –  350 between June 2014 and June 2018, followed by the Ministry of Defence with 152.
However, the nature of requests lodged still indicates a misinterpretation of what falls under a public information request as most of the submissions are related to internships and Tax Identification Numbers (TIN). Perhaps this is an indication of the priority information needs of many of the portal’s users.  
Also of concern is the low response rate to information requests. Of the 2,450 requests submitted between June 2014 and June 2018, only 121 have been indicated as successful and and 102 as partially successful, representing an average response rate of 9%.  Less than 1% of requests (20) were rejected while those still awaiting responses are 2,074 or 85%. The 85% can be regarded as refusals under section 18 of the Access to Information Act (ATIA), 2005 which states: “an information officer fails to give the decision on a request for access to the person concerned within the period contemplated under section 16, the information officer is, for the purposes of this Act, regarded as having refused the request.”  The response period is 21 days.
In some cases where public information was requested, users were advised to visit the respective MDAs in order to access such information. For example  Davidson Ndyabahika, a journalist working with Uganda Radio Network, requested for statistics of enrolment and performance of both private and public primary and secondary schools in Ntungamo District from 2010 to 2016 from the Ministry of Education and Sports. He was advised to physically visit the Ministry offices where he would be cleared first before accessing such information. Such a response  indicates challenges with digitised information storage and retrieval among public agencies although section 10 of the Act mandates information officers to ensure that records of a public body are accessible.
Equally, there are cases where limitations of the portal have emerged and information has been withheld because it can only be provided after payment of the statutory search fees. The ATIA specifies a non-refundable access fee of Uganda Shillings (UGX) 20,000 (USD 5) which remains a high cost for the majority of the population.
The limited levels of government responsiveness to information requests and uptake of AYG by both citizens and public officials impact upon initiatives working to promote access to public information for social accountability and civic engagement. This calls for more capacity enhancement, sensitisation and awareness raising among public officials of their duties and responsibilities as laid down in the Access to Information Act.  Likewise, MDAs ought to utilise the different ICT platforms and tools to proactively release public information as prescribed in the Act and make efforts to ensure that citizens are aware of such information and where to find it.
Under Section 7 of the Act, public bodies are mandated to compile manuals containing descriptions, addresses, the nature of work, services and how to access information within six months after the commencement of the Act. However, 13 years since the law was passed, only the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development has adhered to this requirement. Indeed the ministry was in 2015 awarded the most responsive public entity as part of commemoration of International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).
Likewise, section 43 of the Act requires every minister to submit an annual report to Parliament on requests for records or access to information made to a public body under his or her ministry indicating acceptance or rejection, and reasons for rejection. However, there has never been any report from ministers since 2005 when the Law was passed, and Parliament has never demanded for such reports.
Meanwhile there should be efforts to continuously empower citizens to fully exercise their right of access to information as stated in Article 41 of the Constitution and Section 5 of the ATIA. Such efforts include capacity building of different demographic groups such as women, youth, persons with disabilities (PWDs), journalists, and teachers to demand for public information relating to service delivery and accountability while utilising different ICT platforms and tools including the AYG portal. Public officials should also be empowered to utilise these tools to proactively share public information with citizens.
The AYG is an initiative of the Ministry ICT and National Guidance in partnership with the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) and the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA).

Harnessing the Data Revolution for National Development: The Case of Uganda

By Loyce Kyogabirwe|
The United Nations (UN) has recognised data as a key factor for achieving and monitoring sustainable development. Indeed, the push for open data that contributes to government transparency and accountability and promotes citizens’ right to information and innovation through the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector continues to gain prominence globally, including in Africa.
In Uganda, the government is geared towards contributing to the emerging data revolution for sustainable development. Since 2016, the country has been party to the African Charter of Statistics and is also working to implement the UN Fundamental Principles of National Official Statistics as well as the Cape Town Action Plan. Uganda has also developed the National Development Plan and is party to regional development agendas such as Agenda 2063 and the East African Community’s Vision 2050.
In tandem with the above commitments and recognition of the need for quality data that responds to the demands of development agendas, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) together with other development agencies hosted the country’s first High Level National Data Forum from November 14 to 17, 2017 in Kampala to reflect on how to harness the data revolution for national development.
While presenting the National Standards Indicator Framework (NSIF) at the Forum, Imelda Musana, Deputy Director of Statistical Production and Development at UBOS underscored the importance of data and statistics for actualising the NSIF as an effective tool for measuring progress and performance, informing planning and resource allocation in all government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Further, Bill Anderson, Data and Information Architect at Development Initiatives (DI) reiterated the need to build sustainable and inclusive data ecosystems. “To meet national development plans and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we need to build sustainable systems that are sustainably funded to tell the story of everyone in every village” he said.
During the discussion, it was recognised that due to decentralised statistical systems and fragmented data sets, official statistics did not reflect data generated by non-state data producers including the private sector, academia, civil society and the citizens. Participants therefore called for frameworks that can allow these sources of data, who are also motivated by the data revolution, to feed into the national statistics.
Coordination, collaboration and partnerships was also pointed out as essential for a functional and inclusive data ecosystem. According to Norah Madaya, Director of Statistical Coordination Services at UBOS, partnerships are inevitable in order to minimise duplication of efforts and increase efficiency and harmonisation of programmes. However, she noted existing challenges that hinder coordination and partnerships within the data ecosystem, such as lack of institutionalised statistical structures in government agencies, inadequate commitment to factors driving coordination such as harmonised ICT platforms and resistance to joint survey undertakings.
Meanwhile, usability as a driver for the national data ecosystem was also discussed, with widespread calls for data released by government to be in easily accessible digital formats. Currently, most public information/data released by government agencies is in PDF format and does not meet open data principles as prescribed in the Open Data Charter which calls for data to be released in a format that easily accessible, reusable and allows for manipulation, among others.
On the ICT front, Kenneth Bagarukayo, from the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance noted that Uganda’s readiness for open data is hindered by lack of common data standards as well as inadequate infrastructure. As such, in 2015, the government embarked on the process of developing the Open Data Policy that will help address these challenges. A draft of the policy has been developed with priority areas focusing on open data working groups, the development of an open data portal and high value data sets. According to Bagarukayo, policy consultations have been completed and the draft policy will be presented to cabinet for approval in December 2017.
Meanwhile, efforts are also underway to build Communities of Practice (CoP) on data among civil society, private sector and public-sector organisations. One such initiative is the East Africa Community of Practice for Data Revolution and SGDs which is working to enable actors meet frequently and deliberate on best practices, challenges and experiences of their engagements on data and community at the subnational level. Development Initiatives is leading efforts in Uganda towards agreeing on a general action plan for the country’s CoP and recently held a meeting with various actors including CIPESA to discuss gaps and needs that the CoP might address to increase collaboration across the East African region.
Ultimately, the National Data Forum was a ground-breaking event which will hopefully bring the data revolution to the forefront of national debates and support awareness of the evolving data demands for measuring national, regional and international development initiatives. Discussions over the three day event rallied stakeholders to come together and support more investment in data production, analysis and use, for evidence based planning.

Aid And Development Summit 2018, Set To Take Place in Nairobi

Announcement | The Collaboration on Internetaional ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) is proud to be a media partner of the upcoming 3rd annual Aid & Development Africa Summit set to take place on February 27-28, 2018 at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.
The summit will once again unite 300+ humanitarian and development leaders, decision makers and advisors committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region. It presents an opportunity to explore best practice, policy and project updates, innovation and partnerships in ICT, data and mobile solutions for humanitarian and development programmes.
Participants will gain first hand insights from development banks, donors and government agencies into their financing priorities and funding guidelines as well as benefit from networking opportunities.
The agenda will explore innovations and best practice in emergency communication, connectivity and social networks and discuss the impact of mobile devices on development work. Expert speakers including Kasirim Nwuke, Chief, New Technologies and Innovation, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Olawale Maiyegun, Director, Department of Social Affairs, African Union Commission and Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation will share insights and ways to drive sustainable innovation and support community resilience in East Africa.

Session Focus: The Tech Revolution and a look into the future:
The world has an ambitious goal to end extreme poverty by 2030. But, without good poverty data, it is impossible to know whether we are making progress, or whether programs and policies are reaching those who are the most in need. Discussion points include:

  • Overall impact on the Tech Revolution on Development and Humanitarian fronts in Africa
  • Emerging trends and how they can benefit data and measurement of poverty eradication trends
  • Is using technology to collect data a new solution to an old problem?

The Summit agenda includes keynote presentations, interactive sessions, themed roundtables, speaker panels, Innovator of the Year Award and an evening drinks reception to engage with decision makers and key stakeholders in Africa’s aid and development sectors.
The Aid & Development Africa Summit advocates for cross-sector approach through inclusive, effective collaboration and coordination between national and international NGOs, government and UN agencies, Red Cross, donors, investors, development banks and the private sector.
 “The summit was well organised, it was beneficial and provided me with knowledge and insight on issues ranging from ICT, agriculture health, disaster preparedness, irrigation etc, all which are part of my job in the office” – Asanterabi C. Sangenoi, Prime Minister’s Office Tanzania
Save the date and reserve your place here to be part of the most influential aid and development conference in Africa.
For more information about Aid & Development Africa Summit, please visit or get in touch with Alina O’Keeffe, Head of Marketing, Aid & international Development Forum (AIDF) at [email protected]

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