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:
The cases in which ICTs are successful in promoting citizen participation possess two characteristics:
Combining two or more ICT tools has proven to enhance two-way interaction between citizens and government.
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.
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:
Successful uses of ICTs in governance were found in cases where:
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.
Demotivations in using ICTs to facilitate two-way interaction between citizens and government include:
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.
The design of ICT initiatives in governance should factor in seeking input of citizens who are the intended users.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Crowdsourcing (Listing ICT tools for governance from the ICT4Democracy Network and on Social Media Platform)
Categorizing tools according to country of operation, purpose and implementing governance stakeholder, that is, government, CSO or citizens
Interviews and Focus Group Discussions
Data Analysis (thematic and content analysis through excerpting and coding)