Kenya Creates Portal for Government Data

11 July 2011

Kenya July 8 launched a web portal offering free access to government information.

There are over 160 datasets including the complete 2009 census, national budget data, nation and county public expenditure data, information on health care and school facilities. See the Data Catalog for a full list of what is available.

“Today marks an important step in our aspirations to open up the government and make it more responsive, efficient and accountable,” said President Mwai Kibaki at the launch of the Open Government Data Portal.

It does not contain data such as the register of land titles or companies.

In 2010 Kenya adopted a new constitution guaranteeing the right to information, but it has not  passed a freedom of information law.

“We will enact necessary legislation … to ensure continued public access to government data and information,” added Kibaki, noting that slow internet speeds in the country would hinder retrieval.

Business Perspective

The value of the information was highlighted in publications such as The Business Daily, which reported in part:

Last week’s launch of an on-line portal with official data on key sectors of the economy has for the first time put in the hands of Kenyan citizens a powerful tool to monitor government activity in a way that has never been done before in this part of the world.

The paper later amplified with an example and a suggestion that it would be good for business:

Many Kenyans will, for instance, be surprised to learn that since its inception in 2004, the government has spend the most money on education through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in Isiolo and Lamu counties per capita and the least money in Kajiado – also classified as the richest county with a poverty incidence rate of 11 per cent.

While the low expenditure on education in Kajiado makes sense, one is left to wonder why the allocation to education through CDF is not equally robust in Turkana – the northern frontier district where the incidence of poverty is highest at more than 94 per cent.

Consumers of the data might also start to wonder what would happen to the quality and level of education in Isiolo and Lamu should the pattern of expenditure shown in the data continue in the next 10 years.

Publication of official data on this portal — and the ongoing competition among technology entrepreneurs to come up with applications that can help citizens make sense of it – offers people with money a golden opportunity to make sound investment decisions based on solid mapping of where demand for a particular good or service is likely to be strongest.

 

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