In recent years, there has been an increasing recognition of the importance of open data in promoting transparency and accountability in government. Open data refers to data that is made freely available for public use, reuse, and distribution. It is widely believed that by making government data open and accessible to the public, governments can be more accountable to their citizens and promote greater civic engagement.
In Kenya, the government has taken some steps to promote open data. In 2013, the government launched the Open Data Initiative, which aims to promote the availability and use of government data for public benefit. The initiative includes the establishment of an open data portal, which provides access to a range of government data, including data on education, health, agriculture, and the environment.
Despite these efforts, there is still much work to be done to ensure that the public has access to government-related data in Kenya. The site, https://www.opendata.go.ke/ is working but the data is not accessible. Visiting the site, you for some reason are required to sign in unlike before when you could access the all data without having to do so. This initiative was good but it seems like the government abandoned it at some point. Here are some reasons why the government should prioritize making government data more open and accessible:
Promote transparency and accountability
One of the main benefits of open data is that it promotes transparency and accountability in government. By making data available to the public, citizens can see how their taxes are being spent and hold their government accountable for its actions. This is especially important in a country like Kenya, where corruption is a significant problem. By making government data open and accessible, the government can help to build trust with its citizens and demonstrate its commitment to transparency and accountability.
Encourage civic engagement
Open data can also encourage greater civic engagement by giving citizens the information they need to participate in decision-making processes. For example, if data on health care services is made available, citizens can use this information to advocate for improvements in their local health care facilities. Similarly, if data on education is made available, Kenyans can use this information to advocate for improvements in their local schools. By giving citizens the information they need to participate in decision-making processes, the government can help to build a more engaged and active citizenry.
Foster innovation and economic growth
Open data can also foster innovation and economic growth by providing a wealth of information that can be used to develop new products and services. For example, data on transportation patterns can be used to develop new transportation solutions or data on energy consumption can be used to develop new energy-efficient products. By making data available to entrepreneurs and innovators, the government can help to drive economic growth and create new job opportunities.
Improve the effectiveness of government services
Open data can also help to improve the effectiveness of government services by providing a wealth of information that can be used to identify problems and develop solutions. For example, data on health care services can be used to identify areas where services are lacking and to develop strategies to improve access to care. Similarly, data on education can be used to identify areas where students are struggling and to develop strategies to improve student outcomes. By using data to identify problems and develop solutions, the government can improve the effectiveness of its services and better meet the needs of its citizens.
Meet international standards
Finally, making government data open and accessible can help Kenya to meet international standards and best practices in open government. Many countries around the world are embracing open data as a way to promote transparency and accountability, and Kenya can join this global trend by making its data more open and accessible. By doing so, Kenya can demonstrate its commitment to open government and build stronger relationships with other countries.
Finally, there is a need to build the capacity of civil society and other stakeholders to use and analyze open data. While open data can be a powerful tool for promoting transparency and accountability, it is only effective if there are people and organizations who are able to use it. The government will need to work with civil society and other stakeholders to build their capacity to use open data, through training and capacity building programs and other initiatives.
In conclusion, there are many compelling reasons why the government of Kenya should ensure that the public has access to government-related data. By making data open and accessible, the government can promote transparency and accountability, encourage civic engagement, foster innovation and economic growth, improve the effectiveness of its services.