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The Indigo TrustFunding transparency and accountability inAfrica
Transparency and Accountability inAfricaThe case for action:• There are no African countries inside the top 30 of TransparencyInternational’s Corruption Perceptions Index of 174 states in 2012.• Freedom House only considers 10 of the 54 recognised African states as beingfully free in its 2013 State of Freedom in the World Report.• According to African Union estimates, the continent loses some $148billion, equivalent to 25% of GDP, due to corruption every year.
Mobiles and ICT in Africa73% of the world’s mobile phones are found in developing countries.In Africa over half the population has access to a mobile phone and it isestimated that by 2020 this access could reach 100%95% of phone users are on pre-pay plansInternet usage has now reached 12% and is growing fast with new submarinecables allowing better speeds and mobile internet allowing access even in themost rural areas.The African mobile and internet market is as innovative and context-driven asanywhere – “Please call me” texts and mobile money like M-PESA are Africaninnovations that have changed millions of lives. M-PESA now handles 11% ofKenyan GDP and more than one billion “please call me” texts are sent for freeevery month.
The Indigo Trust funds thoseapplying innovative mobile andinternet technologies to issues oftransparency and accountability inorder to empower citizens to fulfilan active and assertive role in theprocesses governing their lives…
Healthreceived £10,000 to set-up anSMS platform for patients toreport problems with thehealthcare system. GACC’s teamthen works hard to resolvecomplaints and improve service.CIPESA have also received£12,000 for health mapping andreporting in Uganda.Neighbourhoodreceived £12,000 for their‘Lungisa’ project which will allowresidents of Cape Town to reporton a host of local governmentservices including water, sewage,schooling, policing and more.Simple (online) CartographyIn Kibera, one of Nairobi’s most notorious slums, citizens don’teven have something a simple as a map of where they live.The Map Kibera Trust received £11,320 to improve its citizen-led digital mapping of the area. As simple map can have hugeadvantages for advocacy, service provision and personalsafety.ViolenceSisi ni Amani-Kenya were awarded $18,158 forimprovements to their PEACE TXT platform designed tomap and prevent violence. This platform evenundertakes a basic demographic analysis of thosereporting so as to target the most effective messages andadvice to users.MappingandReporting
Our association with mySociety has been a long one.Sites like fixmystreet.com, theyworkforyou.com andwhatdotheyknow.com are important tools that empower citizensin Britain. Together we are working to bring more applications likethese to various African states with a grant of £40,000. This projecthas already had some success…Developed by Ghanaian software developersHutspace, in collaboration with mySociety, Indigoawarded £9,400 for Odekro which allowsGhanaians to monitor their parliament and MPsand gives them free access to Hansard.Funded by The Omidyar Network the Mzalendoteam worked with mySociety to launch thisparliamentary monitoring website in Kenya.ParliamentaryTransparencyAs well as opening up parliaments Indigo aims to increase access to the legislation they enact…
Accessing andUnderstanding LegislationIndigo awarded £7,000to a project based at theCo-Creation Hub inNigeria for a NigerianConstitution App.Available on multipleplatforms this app hasnow been downloadedin excess of 700,000times!£22,672 was awarded to the Africanand Seychelles Legal InformationInstitutes to develop an e-book forthe laws of the Seychelles. Oftenjudges and lawyers do not haveaccess to the latest laws and caseswhen making their arguments incourt.The Constitutional Excerpts project at UCL doesvital work. Constitutions are the very basis of lawin most countries so Indigo gave the project£30,370 to undertake XML tagging on the world’sconstitutions and thus make them more userfriendly to online communities.
MakingGovernmentAccountableto AllA grant of £36,800should allow thecollaboration neededwith the OpenKnowledge Foundationto dramatically improvethis clever website whichkeeps a close eye onbudgetary spending inNigeria. The currentadditions should see the2013 National Budget aswell as six state budgetsbecome fully visualisedand open to onlineinterrogation. BudgITshould allow Nigeriancitizens to gain a muchgreater understanding ofwhere the money goesand how to argue forchange.iWatch allows Nigeriansto compare thepromises made bygovernment with theresults on the groundand, crucially, have theirsay about projects greatand small that might beover budget or evendelivered early! A grantof £5,000 was awardedto develop this usefultool which will helphold the government toaccount by recordingtheir promises forposterity and allowingthe easy measurementof progress.
We also realise that we have a responsibilityto be transparent and accountable here atIndigo…We have made a grant of£10,000 to the Open AidRegister to develop their websitewhich allows smaller foundationsand charitable trusts to publishthere grant data in thestandardised XML formatrequired by international aidregisters like IATI. This toolallows small operations like oursto demonstrate theircommitment to transparency.The Transparency and AccountabilityInitiative has convened a NewTechnology Sub Group with the help ofthe Indigo Trust, The OmidyarNetwork, Open Society Foundation, TheWorld Bank and Hivos to help innovatenew ways to make our field of workmore closely aligned with theseimportant goals.
services.gov.ngAcross Europe governmentshave ever more advancedwebsites to help citizens accesspublic services. Nigeria’srecently launched governmentwebsite attempts to bring thislevel of information and serviceto those with the internet.Parliament Watch has beenmonitoring various GermanParliaments for some time. Marsadis a project with the Tunisianorganisation Al Bawsala which aimsto monitor the country’sConstituent Assembly to ensure thenew constitution is produced in amanner that is both transparentand accountable.The African Development Bank has produced an Open DataPortal as part of its “Africa Information Highway” initiative. Theplatform is growing all the time and currently displays keyeconomic data for 30 African nations. The data is well presentedand can be easily manipulated. High quality access to relativelysimple economic information like this is an importantdevelopment. Not only can it improve our understanding of thedifferences between countries but it can also help formulatebetter policy and business plans.
Mapping projects have become commonplacein Africa and elsewhere. One of the best ways tolearn about the field is through Ushahidi; one ofthe original platforms for this type of activitywhich came into being during the violence thatfollowed the 2007 Presidential Elections inKenya. The following projects all utilise theUshahidi platform in some way.
Avila, Feigenblatt, Heacock and Heller (2010) “Global Mapping of technology for transparency andaccountability” Transparency and Accountability Initiative. Available here.Grönlund, Heacock & Sasaki, Hellström, Al-Saqaf (2010) “Increasing Transparency and FightingCorruption through ICT” Spider Centre. Available here.Mandlebaum (2011) “Strengthening Parliamentary Accountability, Citizen Engagement and Access toInformation: A Global Survey of Parliamentary Monitoring Organisations” National DemocraticInstitute and World Bank Institute. Available here.Ostling (2012) “Parliamentary Informatics Project – Who are their users and what is their impact?”Journal of eDemocracy, 4(2): 279-300. Available here.Sarrazin (2011) “Texting, Tweeting, Mobile Internet. New Platforms for Democratic Debate in Africa”Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Available here.UNDP (2012) “Mobile Technologies and Empowerment: Enhancing Human Development throughparticipation and innovation” Available here.Waema and Adera (2011) “Local governance and ICTs in Africa – case studies and guidelines forimplementation and evaluation” Available here.
Websites:The Spider Centre works on ICT4D from Stockholm University:http://www.spidercenter.org/The Opening Parliament Project and Blog:http://blog.openingparliament.org/Ushahidi was one of the most influential and early citizen mapping tools:http://www.ushahidi.com/mySociety have a number of projects based around accountability:http://www.mysociety.org/Parliament Watch is a German parliamentary monitor with global ambitions:http://www.abgeordnetenwatch.de/international-248-0.html