Four Astounding Digital Technologies changing Governance in Africa
These are very exciting times for Africa. A budding generation of technologists, coders, entrepreneurs and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are rising to solve the continent’s most pressing problems. Entirely new industries around payment solutions, crowdsourcing and entertainment media are springing up in tech hubs in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and other countries.
One of the key sectors where this excitement is palpable is in governance, where some startups and CSOs are integrating information and communication technologies into governance processes to enhance the delivery of public services to all citizens, in a bid to influence policymaking processes and increase citizens’ participation in governance.
- OpenGov.org.gh is a project founded by Penplusbytes to enhance communication and information sharing between citizens and local government in two local government assemblies in Ghana; focusing on public service delivery, health, education and sanitation. This project involves the use of an integrated set of technologies that include an interactive online platform integrated with a mobile app, SMS via short codes, social media via Facebook and Twitter .
Since it was launched in 2015, OpenGov has enabled citizens in the Tamale Metropolis of Ghana, to have access to the simplified development plan and budget of their metropolitan assembly; giving these citizens an opportunity to participate in how resources are allocated for development and allowing them to ensure that their resources are prudently utilized.
- TransGovGh is another innovation, helping citizens in the Greater Accra Metropolitan area to access timely and accurate data about developmental projects in their local communities in an effort to advance accountability, public involvement and data-driven decision making in local governance. The TransGov technology, which includes a smart and searchable website – http://transgovgh.org, a mobile application, an Interactive Voice Response Technology and SMS started in 2015 to help increase the level of influence Ghanaians have on policies and programs that affect their well-being. The platform was recently launched and is expected to make meaningful impact before long.
- BudgIT Nigeria is passionate about one thing – making the Nigerian government budgets easily accessible and understandable to every Nigerian. BudgIT was founded in 2011 by Nigerian entrepreneur, Seun Onigbinde. One of the most interesting data points from BudgIT was an analysis of just how much goes into the presidential breakfast, lunch and dinner . The impact was huge, resulting in massive hue and outcry, as the country was then battling with the removal of fuel subsidies. Today, BudgIT creates apps, games, interactive websites and infographics that continue to make relevant data sets available and more importantly, accessible to the public.
- OurOilJourney was also conceived in 2015 by a group of young dedicated entrepreneurs under the umbrella of Infosol Technologies. Its aim is to keep Ghanaians informed about the allocation and use of oil revenues and thus provide them with a credible mechanism to track developmental projects funded by Ghana’s oil revenue. The innovation developed with support from Hivos and Making All Voices Count has, as key features, an integrated mobile, SMS and voice main technology translated in Ghanaian local languages for ease of use. It is devised in such a way that it allows citizens access information on the amount of money government generates from oil and gas exploration and what these monies are being used for in local communities across the country.
Africa is already exporting some of its homegrown technology and this can only become more pronounced as the continent gets more connected. The potential power of these technologies to fight corruption, promote transparency, and empower citizens by harnessing the power of new technologies to make government more effective and accountable provides for really exciting times ahead.
By Janet Kudor, Penplusbytes