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Archive for July, 2017

civic techToday, Information and communication technology has transformed the way people live, conduct business, relate with one another and consume services. Almost all spheres of life have been and are shaped by technology ranging from political, economic, social and cultural aspects.  Technology has become everything and everything is technology.

This week, I attended a forum  on the role of civic tech in social accountability: a showcase of social and civic tech in Uganda. The meeting was hosted by CIPESA and Outbox and it aimed at increasing knowledge and awareness on how various tech tools can be adopted for social accountability, civic participation and service delivery.

Civic tech as defined by Colin Wood is technology that enables greater participation in government or otherwise assists government in delivering citizen services and strengthening ties with the public. Indeed, a number of technology tools exist to support social accountability and civic participation in Uganda. These range from tools to support CSOs in data collection, tracking of public expenditure, service delivery, citizen journalism, environmental monitoring to mention but a few.

During the forum, several tools were showcased. The first tool that was  presented is M-Omulimisa an application that was formerly developed to link farmers and extension workers. The application has now been transformed to monitor service delivery in Eastern and Northern Uganda. Launched in July 2016, the platform enables users to report service delivery gaps to local authorities by sending a message to the short code 8228 with the sender’s location.

The second application showcased was  the Parliament Watch that  monitors and analyses proceedings of the Parliament of Uganda.  Parliament Watch  uses  social media such as Periscope, Facebooklive to hold digital dialogues and engage  Members of Parliament on pressing issues. They also use other conventional methods like community  dialogues to link  members of parliament  with their constituencies.

Other tools that were presented include User.Ug an electronic system for monitoring construction works in Kampala City, Yogera, a citizens engagement platform that connects citizens to their government and increase government responsiveness to raised issues in communities.

Although these platforms exist, their utility leaves a lot to be desired and this can be attributed to several factors including lack of awareness, limited and expensive internet, illiteracy  access among others. Additionally, most of these tools have not been translated into local languages and this means that they can  only be used by people who can read and write English.

Since this forum was the first event in Uganda, we hope that it will be a springboard for further discussion and engagements on how  civic tools can be adopted and fully utilised to promote social accountability, civic engagement and improve the much need service delivery in Uganda.  Now that the government has committed 9 Billion Uganda Shillings    in the 2017/18 financial year, we hope it  will go a long way to support these initiatives.

 

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