Our doors have been flung open after hosting Open for Business Events in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa where we presented our grand challenge.
Techies, civil society organisations, private sector companies, government officials, researchers, and other interested parties here gathered to find out more about our programme, our ambitions and ask questions relating to our first call for proposals.
During Open for Business Ghana, Emmanuel Okyere from Hutspace presented a case-study on open data, exploring how parliamentary information can be made more accessible to the general public. As Declan Ottaro, who was there representing consortium partner Ushahidi reports, “the highlight of this presentation on www.odekro.org was the link that was formed with a participant from a civil society organisation that works with parliament to look for ways of improving participation on the portal as this was one of the challenges facing it.”
In South Africa, local government champion Jay Naidoo spoke on what it means to make all voices count, urging that government works for its citizens and not the other way around. He stressed that innovation and technology can help to merge the gap. “We have to go back to the people…equip them with the right tools and make sure they fight their own battles.”
Two case-studies working to improve the feedback loop between government and citizens, were then presented. Victoria Nembaware from Cell-Life demonstrated how they had used text messages to improve government responsiveness with a simple feedback loop and had managed to incentivize change. This was followed by Allison Tilley from the Open Democracy Advice Centre who explained how they’d been able to advance their work using ICT based solutions.
In Kenya, Ushahidi’s Daudi Were posed poignant questions to the crowd: “what is your best experience with government this year? And what is your worst?” This prompted an engaging discussion, and was followed by a panel discussion featuring different civil society organizations working with government who discussed best practices, as well as responded to questions about how to implement an effective programme in the region.
During this event, a video from the Institute for Development Studies’ Rosemary McGee was broadcasted articulating why Making All Voices Count’s Research and Evidence component is so important. For a more detailed report on the event see Ushahidi’s blog.