iHub Research, as part of the ICT4Democracy East Africa network undertook a study in 2014 to assess how ICT tools are being used, for and in various aspects of governance in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. This study, with an aim to bridge the research and insights gap on ICT use in East Africa, sought to answer the following:

  • Which ICT tools are used in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania addressing these four aspects of governance,
    • Access to information
    • Service delivery
    • Tracking corruption
    • Citizen participation
  • In which ways are ICT tools used in the above four areas?
  • What successes and challenges exist in the use of these tools?

When ICTs for Governance Work:

The cases in which ICTs are successful in promoting citizen participation possess two characteristics:

    • Involving low cost and non-Internet based ICTs
    • Involving physical meet-up of citizens

Combining two or more ICT tools has proven to enhance two-way interaction between citizens and government.

Limitations of ICTs in Governance:

User experience considerations are rarely made when creating ICT tools. In most cases government websites are found to be user-unfriendly.

"Those websites are ugly, it discourages me from going beyond the home page, so I don’t. ” – FGD Participant, Nairobi."

Lack of involvement of citizens (who are the primary target/end users of most of the ICT tools for governance) in the development of ICTs for governance leads to poor prioritization of the citizens’ needs. Awareness creation about the existence of these tools, why and how they should be used is not done by the implementers of the tools.

Findings

01

There exist numerous ICT tools for governance such as websites, mobile phones, radio, and web applications which are not used by citizens and government as often as developers expected. This is because:

    • Governance needs are not comprehensively assessed before the creation/deployment of these ICT tools
    • Citizens are not optimistic about action being taken on the issues they raise, thus limiting their use of the applications.
02

Successful uses of ICTs in governance were found in cases where:

    • Non-internet based ICTs such as the radio, and mobile phones (feature phones particularly) are used, and where forums exist for citizens to physically meet to follow up on issues raised using ICTs.
    • Mobile and web applications, which are created mostly in tech hubs and tech competitions such as hackathons, are popular and hyped only among people who are particularly interested in technology and applications
03

When citizens use ICT tools to interact with government, they are motivated by the ease of interaction (they don’t have to go to an office) and affordability. Citizens are also motivated by a perceived sense of anonymity provided by ICT tools in cases of reporting corruption.

04

Demotivations in using ICTs to facilitate two-way interaction between citizens and government include:

    • A belief among citizens that nothing will come out of the interaction.
    • Costs involved in setting up and running ICT initiatives, limited expertise and a lack of incentive to use ICTs among civil society actors and government institutions.
05

Citizen participation had the most dominant use of ICT tools in this study. Participation is by contributing to radio talk shows on governance, and expressing opinions on social media platforms.

Recommendations

01

The design of ICT initiatives in governance should factor in seeking input of citizens who are the intended users.

02

The design process of ICT initiatives for governance should be comprehensive enough to include implementation and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plans to assess impact and effectiveness.

03

Training the implementers of ICT initiatives in governance as well as the target users (citizens and/or government) should be conducted before implementation actually begins.

04

To encourage citizens to interact with government and CSOs, success stories about interaction with government should be shared among CSOs, government and citizens. Other strategies to address the lack of optimism by citizens in interacting with government should also be explored to encourage more interaction.

05

CSOs and government ICT initiatives should share more what works and what does not work in ICT for Governance not only within themselves but with citizens as well.

06

While mobile and web applications are useful, they are yet to reach critical mass. Non-Internet based ICTs used in governance such as mobile phones and radios need to be integrated more in ICT and governance initiatives since they are the most widely used and most accessible to the East African Population.

07

ICTs used in promoting citizen participation should incorporate or encourage physical meetups of the citizens (with other stakeholders) to unpack the governance issues in question. This allows citizens to deepen their understanding and engagement around governance issues faced.

ICTs in governance should complement and enable good governance practices and not be considered the sole solution to governance problems.

Methodology

The ICT and Governance in East Africa study was a qualitative audit of the existing ICT tools in governance in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The study used both primary and secondary data. The study focused on urban and peri-urban areas in all the three countries. The specific study sites were as follows and for the reasons listed:

    • Kenya (Nairobi and Nakuru): Selected based on the prominence of ICT initiatives and partners of the ICT4Democracy in East Africa.
    • Uganda (Kampala, Apac, Lira and Fort Portal): Kampala was the urban area selected in Uganda, Apac and Lira in Uganda was selected because of the presence of the ICT4Democracy East Africa partners.
    • Tanzania (Dar es Salaam and Mwanza): Selected based on a high presence of organizations and projects whose central theme is ICT for development.
STEP
01

Crowdsourcing (Listing ICT tools for governance from the ICT4Democracy Network and on Social Media Platform)

STEP
02

Categorizing tools according to country of operation, purpose and implementing governance stakeholder, that is, government, CSO or citizens

STEP
03

Interviews and Focus Group Discussions

STEP
04

Data Analysis (thematic and content analysis through excerpting and coding)

STEP
05

Report Writing

Country
Stakeholders Interviewed
Kenya
Government
3
Civil Society Organizations
15
Developers
3
Focus Group Discussion Participants
36
Uganda
Government
1
Civil Society Organizations
11
Developers
2
Focus Group Discussion Participants
36
Tanzania
Government
3
Civil Society Organizations
8
Developers
2
Focus Group Discussion Participants
32

Acknowledgments

This research study has been possible through the generous support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to the ICT4Democracy East Africa Network. We would also like to thank all the ICT4Democracy East Africa network partners for their support throughout the study and all the institutions and participants in the study.