ICTD2010 (V). Decision making and accountability: citizen-centred ICT platforms?

Notes from the Information and Communication Technolgies and Development — ICTD2010, held at the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK, on December 13-16, 2010. More notes on this event: ictd2010.

Decision making and accountability: citizen-centred ICT platforms?
Chairs: Lotta Rydström

Case 1

Uganda: several examples on how women are using ICTs and especially their mobile phones to participate in local politics, community life, etc. The main issues are, nevertheless, physical access to devices, illiteracy.

SODNET

SODNET (Social Development Network) works with targeted advocacy, really good data and the right packaging to provide near real time reporting, direct amplification of voices, aggregation of data for ease of analysis and report generation, transparency in organizations, etc.

Given that in Kenya the penetration of the mobile phone is really high, most solutions rely on mobile telephony (and the web too) for them to work.

Approx 25,000 SMS questions/messages vs. 5,000 on the web. An example of the impact was the scandal that was raised on the performance of the Ministry of Water.

A total of 1,523 reports by monitors and citizens on irregularities during the election; 36 out of 40 actionable reports were amplified and responded to by the IIEC (electoral body); 794 reports on “everything is fine”, though there was no requisite to do so.

Key factors:

  • Provide simple technology /media based tools and channels.
  • Let citizens act on their own.

This is what is behind the new project Huduma, a project that the Government has asked the possibility to be able to answer the citizens back, from within the same platform. Same with Map Kibera, a “crowdsource” mapping tool.

Johan Hellström

There are many tools where mobile phones are used to track and store information.

Åke Grönlund

Corruption = Monopoliy + Discretion – Accountability.

There are a lot of corruption indices or ways to measure corruption: TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), World Bank’s Corruption Control Index (CCI), Bribe-Payers’ Index (by TI), etc.

ICT actions against corruption: automation (remove the intermediary), transparency, detection, prevention, awareness raising, reporting, deterrence (a real threat to business), promoting ethical attitudes.

A research shows that as the eGovernment index goes up, the Corruption Control Index goes down; GDP/capita up, CCI goes down; free press up leads, notwithstanding, to no significant change. Andersen (2009). E-Government as an anti-corruption strategy.

The Bhoomi project reduced corruption in 66%.

Discussion

Q: Do we need more tools? Sodenet: most of the tools are already developed, they just need being customized for your own purposes.

What kind of responses have governments given to these initiatives? A: They increasingly want to be informed and seldom participate in the whole project, especially providing feedback. But sometimes too they get scared or simply mad at these projects.

Where is the limit of transparency (e.g. Wikileaks)?

More information

Strand (2010). Increasing transparency & fighting corruption through ICT (PDF file, 5.73 MB).

Information and Communication Technologies and Development (2010)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2010) “ICTD2010 (V). Decision making and accountability: citizen-centred ICT platforms?” In ICTlogy, #87, December 2010. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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