ICT and Governance in East Africa : Preliminary Fieldwork Findings (Part 1) Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

By Varyanne Sika
iHub Research
  Published 09 Oct 2014
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ICT and Governance in East Africa : Preliminary Fieldwork Findings (Part 1) Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The ICT and Governance in East Africa study explores the various ways in which ICT tools can/have successfully facilitated or hindered two way interaction between government and citizens towards effective public service delivery, curbing corruption, rights/access to information, as well as increasing transparency and accountability. Further we are looking into the innovative ICT initiatives that have facilitated the interaction between citizen and government as well as the (de)motivations for utilizing ICT tools among the various stakeholders (citizens, governments, civil society).

READ MORE ON THE PROJECT HERE.

After successful interviews and Focus Group Discussions in Uganda which was the first country we visited to conduct fieldwork in July 2014, we visited Dar es Salaam and Mwanza in Tanzania. Read more on the preliminary findings in Uganda here and here.

This article highlights some of the *findings from Dar es Salaam. (In part 2 of this blog post series, preliminary findings from Mwanza will be discussed). We used semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) to collect our data in Tanzania. A summary of the methodology we are using for this study can be found here. In Dar es Salaam, we interviewed various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that work in the region, government institutions, a developer and conducted FGDs. Among the CSOs and Government Institutions we interviewed were: 1. Twaweza, ni Sisi on their ‘Sauti za Wananchi’ initiative 2. Ifakara Health Institute on their ‘Sentinel Panel of Districts’ project, 3. Afya Mtandao, 4. Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) in Tanzania, one of our partner organizations in the ICT4Democracy EA network 5. Tanzania Revenue Authority 6. e-Government Agency Tanzania 7. University Computing Center in Dar es Salaam 8. AfyaMap Data for Governance

The Ifakara Health Institute runs a project called the Sentinel Panel Districts (SPD). SPD is a nationally representative sample of 23 districts (plus an additional 4) in Mainland Tanzania selected to provide national representative data on health and demographic indicators. It is a platform for evaluating health systems performance. The SPD was initiated in 2009 by Ifakara Health Institute, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR). The purpose of the SPD is to provide a sustainable source of reliable, national data to meet the monitoring needs of program managers, policy-makers and funding partners. In addition, it offers a national, integrated platform for impact evaluation and research. The SPD uses mobile phones and computers for data collection. SPD generates annual estimates of age and cause-specific mortality as well as other health demographic variables for organizations and government institutions interested in the data.

Twaweza (Twaweza is a Kiswahili word which means ‘we can make it’), is a ten year citizen-centered initiative that believes in the bottom-up approach to achieving lasting change. Twaweza has further initiatives within itself. This study was particularly keen on Twaweza’s ‘Uwazi’ initiative, Uwazi is Openness in Kiswahili. The Uwazi unit at Twaweza exists to provide information and analytical support to support the organization’s partners and to avail data in a form that is easily accessible to key decision makers and actors in society. Uwazi further has three main initiatives: Sauti za Wananchi, Follow the Money, and Listening to Dar. We focused on the Sauti za Wananchi initiative which uses a combination of household surveys and low cost, high frequency feedback which is offered by mobile phones. Sauti za Wananchi (Voices of the Citizens) strives to collect data in inexpensive, fast and generally more efficient ways compared to traditional household surveys. The project was started to address the data gaps in the country, specifically to avail more data to the public and to provide regular reliable data on time sensitive issues such as drought, opinions about governance, quality of service delivery or citizens’ ability to exercise agency.**

One Stop Center for Public Services

TZ Gov Portal

Figure 1: Screenshot of Tanzania’s Government Portal built and managed by the e-Government Agency

Tanzania’s one stop center for public services got a face-lift recently (figure 1) to a very user friendly website with links to various other government institutions such as the Tanzania Revenue Authority, the Prevention and Combating Corruption Bureau, Tanzania Police, Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange, and more online services. This one stop center however, is incomplete according to a few participants in the focus group discussions we had. According to the participants in the Focus Group Discussion, the portal has very scarce information. This was highlighted as a challenge to the smooth running and usefulness of the website by the e-Government Agency (eGA) which is in charge of the portal. The process of continuous data collection and aggregation for up-to-date of information on the portal depends on numerous ministries, institutions and organizations which is still being improved. Knowledge on the existence of the portal and its purpose is also being addressed through advocacy campaigns by eGA this final quarter of 2014.

Demotivations for ICT use in Governance

Skepticism and apathy in some situations towards the general state of public affairs in Tanzania are key de-motivating factors for ICT use in Governance. The general belief is that no matter what channel is used to communicate with government, little or insignificant action is taken. This belief was shared by the participants in the Focus Group Discussions. Organizations with ICT for Governance initiatives, however, found that the poor infrastructure for ICT and inadequate resources to sustain ICT projects due to the geographical expanse of Tanzania were de-motivating factors for ICT use in Governance. There was also a lack of awareness by the participants in the Focus Group Discussions about the various ICT tools and initiatives for Governance in the country. The widely known ICT tools used for Governance were service delivery tools such as Tanzania’s Electrical Supply Company (TANESCO) which has a mobile payment system for payment of electricity bills.

When ICT for Governance Works

Situations in which ICT for Governance works are those in which low cost technologies are used and those in which basic public services are simplified using ICT. For instance, in the case of Sauti za Wananchi, mobile phones are used to get information from citizens, and TANESCO plugs into mobile money to ease payment of electricity bills.

In-depth findings from Dar es Salaam as well as the other study sites in East Africa will be published in the final report which will be open for readership and download.

Our study on ICT and Governance in East Africa which is made possible by the generous support of SIDA and SPIDER and the support of the ICT4Democracy East Africa Network. * Please note: These are not all or the official findings of our study. The final report which will be made available will contain comprehensive findings from our study from all the three East African countries. **Read more about the Sauti za Wananchi approach here.
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