19 August 2015

Kenya: State Agencies Hold Firmly to Their Data

Government departments have frustrated efforts to release State information to the public in an initiative, which would have put Kenya among the first countries in the world to voluntarily share data online.

The Kenya Open Data portal launched four years ago, has only received details from 26 departments out of about 83. "While we still face some resistance in data publishing by the various government institutions, we have put in place measures to mitigate this which is why we have devised the new strategies that will allow us to engage other government institutions better," Kenya Open Data Co-ordinator, Ms Linet Kwamboka, said.

LAWS ARE ENACTED

She said the issue will be tackled once the Access to Information Bill and Data Protection laws are enacted. The two proposed laws before Parliament provide for the right of wananchi to access public information.

Two years ago, researchers raised the alarm over dearth of relevant government information as the county system came into play. Prof Mwangi Kimenyi, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution said hitches to the open data system are frustrating researchers and policy makers.

"Access to information held by the State is a crucial component of democracy. It allows the public to be aware of governmental decisions that can impact the environment and individual lives.

Access to data also allows the public to participate in criticising thereby improving governmental decision-making," ICT Authority chief executive Victor Kyalo, who has been advocating for the Open Data initiative, said.

Though the portal hit over 44 million page reviews yesterday since inception, challenges such as resistance by ministries to provide information are a let down.

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