Kenyan Officials Say Lack of FOI Hampers Open Data

29 May 2013

The lack of a freedom of information law in Kenya is stymieing efforts to post more government  data online, according to two top officials, quoted in an article in the Daily Nation and another in Africa Review

“The fact that the Freedom of Information Act is yet to go through Parliament is a major bottleneck because there is lack of a legal backing to force institutions to release data. We have made the proposed regulations and we are now consulting with the Constitution Implementation Commission before they get to Parliament,” said Dr. Fred Matiang’I, the Information and Communications cabinet secretary on May 28.

He said his ministry is having trouble getting government organizations to part with their information to be posted on the two-year-old Kenya Open Data Initiative.

He spoke at a two-day Connected Kenya forum in Mombasa organized by the Ministry of Information and Communication and the Kenya ICT Board that was attended by more than 100 delegates from African countries.

Similalry, Communications Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said at the conference  that the lack of legislation compelling government bodies to release data to the public is retarding the open data initiative.

“Lack of the Freedom of Information Act means that we cannot take any action on government bodies that refuse to release data or refuse to respond,” Dr Ndemo said.

Matiang’i said the ministry which he was recently named to head will see focus on transparency, security, job creation, national brand and tourism, national infrastructure, investment in emerging industries and improving service delivery. A recent executive order consolidated all ICT functions under the ministry, including eGovernment, currently under Office of the President and other functions which were under Treasury.

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