In March last year Kenyans took to the polls and elected a new government. With this, we saw the devolution and formation of 47 county governments under the new Constitution. This shift has brought about opportunities by bringing communities closer to their governments and allowing marginalized communities to get their voices heard in their own governance. From this, We have seen county leadership focus heavily on service delivery and investment in local priorities where the devolved functions of government are concerned.
At Open Institute we’re building on these opportunities with programs such as Open County which works towards building capacity on the ground – of local authorities in collecting, releasing and using data in decision-making, and in building the capacity of citizens at the grassroots to build utility and understanding of that data, using traditional means where necessary. The challenges we’ve seen in the past surrounding open data with regard to political will, data hugging and the digital divide are still present, our own interactions with leaders has shown that they are genuinely interested and willing to embrace open government and open data as a whole.
Looking at the Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI), we’ve seen a few more datasets added to their portal and there have been quite a number of efforts by ourselves and others in the space to increase awareness and utility of it and others just like it. Emphasis and focus is shifting away from targeting developers and building tools, and increasingly focusing on policy, building grassroots networks, offline engagement and spurts of open knowledge. A few months ago the government released a tender for consultancy on the KODI initiative to identify ways of building engagement around open data and drive demand for it. They are yet to announce the tender so it’s still early days on this so we’ll be keeping a keen eye on this and their progress.