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Kenya Open Data Initiative

Published December 2011.
Nearly 30% of Kenyans are internet users11.5 million people. More than 80 percent use mobile phones. As information and communications technologies (ICTs) become more ubiquitous and accessible, they are changing the way Kenyans communicate and do business.

The Government of Kenya recognizes these changing patterns of access and use of ICTs. In July 2011, President Mwai Kibaki launched the Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI) to increase government transparency and public engagement.
The Kenyan Open Data Portal, supported in part by the World Bank, reflects a commitment to facilitating the free flow and access to information in the country. The website hosts around 300 datasetsranging from census results to government expenditure information. By releasing this data, Kenyan authorities hope to pave the way for a more responsive and citizen-focused government.
Knowledge — Interpreting the Issue

In Kenya, there is a growing demand for access to public data. The Open Development Technology Alliance, together with Kenya’s vibrant technology community, recognizes the opportunity to harness ICTs in support of transparency and more accountable elected governments.
In addition to promoting transparency, the free flow of information offers the promise of the development of public service applications around open data. Software developers, NGOs, and other members of civil society have already submitted more than a hundred requests for new datasets to KODI, reflecting the public desire for even more information.


People — Facilitating Access to Experts

The process of making KODI possible benefited from an established network of resources within the open data ecosystem. With the launch of its Open Data Initiative, Kenya became the first African nation to join the Open Government Partnership, a global alliance of governments dedicated to opening government information to the public, via the Internet and mobile phones.

Despite the relative youth of the open data movement, experiences of initiatives like afforded KODI the opportunity to learn from the successes and failures of a growing Open Government Data Community. Open Development Technology Alliance (ODTA) initiatives, such as the (a group of 30 CIOs from developing countries) and the New Knowledge Partnerships group (involving the World eGovernment Organization and the governments of Singapore, Belgium, Korea and other countries) are acting as resources for KODI.

Tools — Implementing the Solution

In order to be relevant and useful, KODI must not only provide access to public data, but ensure that its data is of a high quality. To that end, the World Bank STATCAP program- an initiative for improving statistical systems in developing nations--was a resource for Kenyan officials as they worked to diversify and improve available KODI datasets.

The ODTA views the open data portal as a tool for creating more tools--an approach that has created a wave of enthusiasm among local Kenyan developers to implement KODI data in innovative ways. One examples is the project Eduweb, a resource using Ministry of Education data from KODI’s Open Data Portal to help parents select schools for their children. The Government of Kenya has also launched a to provide awards to entrepreneurs who harness KODI’s information to provide products for citizens.

Beyond Open Data

The Kenya Open Data Initiative is expected to promote creativity and enterprise, creating new markets and products in a thriving civil society. Supported through a $114.4 million World Bank Transparency and Communications Infrastructure project, the release of public information will continue to empower citizens, enabling them to hold governments accountable through ICT innovation.