Kenya Open Data Initiative(KODI)
Ministry of Information and Communications, Ministry of Planning, Visions 2030 Delivery Secretariat

The Problem

Kenya has growing demand for various types of government data, and major capacity to interpret and present that data in ways that will contribute to economic and social development. With its vibrant ICT-enabled private sector, award-winning ICT developers, research community, and civil society, Kenya is well poised to become a leader in open data and building sectors of its economy that rely on timely, accurate data for economic activities and for providing infrastructure and social services efficiently and equitably. However, government databases are fragmented among different ministries and agencies, and in most cases are not easily accessible to policymakers, researchers, the private sector, or citizens. The government is currently lacking a central data catalog, and a system whereby key data is maintained in a central system. In many cases, it is also difficult for researchers and citizens to access the raw data in a downloadable, electronic, machine readable format.
Kenya’s revised constitution provides a new impetus for improving public access to government data through its emphasis on government data guarantee in Section 35. The constitution strengthens government checks and balances, enhances transparency and accountability, and decentralizes resources in an effort more equitably to reach disadvantaged regions and populations, and lays the groundwork for an overhaul of public financial management that would effectively reduce the scope for corruption. The revised constitution guarantees citizens access to information held by the state. Objectivity, impartiality, and accountability are entrenched as the guiding principles of all state officers, and parliament must enact legislation translating these principles into an ethics and anti-corruption commission.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The Government of Kenya launched an Open Government Data Portal on July 8th, 2011 that makes several large government data sets available to researchers and the general public. The data is available on-line in a flexible, user-friendly platform that allows users to view data and compare different data sets, create maps and other visualizations. Users can also directly download underlying data for their own uses. The portal is one of the first and largest government data portals in Africa.
Available datasets include:
Fiscal data 2002-2010
Local authorities expenditure, spending 2002-2010
Community Development Fund (geo-mapped)
National Census 2009
Secondary Schools Facilities (geo-mapped)
Health Facilities (geo-mapped)
Poverty rates by county 2005/6
Open Data is not just about increasing transparency and accountability; it's about using information to create greater efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of public services. A powerful example of the efficiency/effectiveness point is when school location data is joined with information about where children are out of school. When geo-coded (and mapped), this data makes it very easy to see where new schools need to be built and how to potentially reduce school drop-outs. Making these analyses has been made easier through the Open Data portal.
The initiative has been internationally acclaimed and locally embraced as one of the most significant steps Kenya has made to improve governance and implement the 2010 Constitution’s provisions on access to information. As of November 2011, the portal hosts close to 350 datasets with over 28,000 page views and over 2,500 dataset downloaded and embedded to various websites and portals.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The project was initiated by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) in response to demand from the Kenyan software developer community. Software developer argued that they needed access to government data in an open and machine readable format in order to develop applications ranging from services to citizen, accountability tools and incoming generating products.
Civil society also lobbied for digital data from government to support their programs in good governance and monitoring.
The Ministry of Information and Communications raised support from across government to make the Open Data Initiative a reality. Partners from government include:
 Ministry of Planning: availed valuable data and through the Kenya National Bureau of Statistic worked on cleaning and posting data to the portal. This data contributed to the richness and value of the portal.
 Kenya Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat: gave political support and strategic direction to the project to ensure the initiative responds to the need for good governance
 Ministry of Finance: availed data that made the portal valuable and useful in creating transparency
 Ministry of Education: availed data on school facilities, teacher/student ratio that not only informs users on the geographical spread of school facilities but provide valuable information on quality of education in Kenya
 Ministry of Health: availed health facilities data that revealed the state of access to health care in Kenya

The MoIC Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo appointed the Kenya ICT Board, a government agency within the Ministry to implement the project. With support from World Bank and a volunteer working group, the Hon. President Mwai Kibaki launched the portal on July 8th, 2011. The working group was made of local software developers and representatives from government, civil society, private sector and academia.
Nearly 2,000 people attended the launch. Attended includes stakeholder from the ICT sector, international development partners, civil society, academia and the media

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
For the first time, Kenyans have information about their community at their fingertips allowing them to make informed decisions at a personal level—like where to take their children to school or what health facility is closest to them.
The objective for the Open Data Initiative is to publish data online that is:
Technically open and accessible: the data should be available for free; easy to find (online, in one place and searchable) and in a convenient digital format that’s easy to use and modify (e.g. an XML or spreadsheet file and not a PDF document or image file)

Legally open, reusable and redistributable: the license under which the data are released should allow anybody to use some, all or new combinations of data as they like (e.g. perform analyses or build applications) and then distribute these new works either commercially or for free.
Citizens can also use the information to lobby their constituency representatives for better facilities and services based on data and statistics. By making statistics easily available, the open data portal promotes issue-based politics as opposed to personality-based politics. It will empower citizens to engage in the national debate about development and help them to hold a more transparent Government of Kenya even more accountable to its citizens.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
March 2010: Call for open data from software developers
March 2010-June 2011: various datasets curated and released to MOIC
June 2011: 2009 census data released to the Ministry
June 2011: World Bank offers technical support to clean and publish data
June 2011: Volunteer working group formed and work begins on developing platform to host data
July 2011: Portal complete and launched at public event with head of state Hon. President Mwai Kibaki presiding
October 2011: phase II of initiative begins with push on awareness building, improving usability and strengthening policy
December 2011: new website facelift and new datasets released

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Initially, the Ministry encountered some resistance to the Open Data Initiative, particularly from a security point of view. However, risks related to open data are generally manageable. Risks are primarily related to privacy and not making the data anonymous enough—there are many examples of how to mitigate these risks and respect privacy. Kenya’s Open Data Initiative is working to adopt a policy to guide the use and distribution of data.In addition, the Ministry has only published data that is already publicly available and published by government. The difference with the portal is that it makes the data available to a wider audience and in a more usable format.
Many governments are recognizing the power of Open Data and Open Government as an extension of opening data sets.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The first phase of the initiative was funded by Government of Kenya and World Bank through the Kenya Transparency and Connectivity Infrastructure Project (administered by the Kenya ICT Board).
The portal is hosted on a propriety platform from Socrata, a leader in government data repository platforms.
A voluntary group across Kenya from civil society, developers and large corporations and private sector representatives devoted their time to design and implement the launch of the Kenya Open Data Initiative.
Technical support was generously provided by World Bank Kenya office– PREM and Social Accountability teams
The major costs for the project have been in covering the cost of designing and hosting the data on Socrata at a cost of approximately $ 40,000 by November 2011.
The project has received in valuable support from stakeholder and the working group who have contributed hours and expertise that is yet to be valued.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The Initiative has elicited increased support among government agencies who are interested in using the data to make evidence-based decisions on their work e.g. Health, education. Other governments within the region e.g. Rwanda and Tanzania are increasingly developing interest to implement the same idea.
The Kenya ICT Board has entered a phase II of the initiative, which aims to achieve the following:
Website Optimization and Visualization: Improve design and visualization of the open data portal. Ensure is a world class portal that is well designed and easy to navigate
Policy Development: Facilitate the development of a Cabinet level Government Open Data policy and track Cabinet memo on Freedom of Information
Data Curation and Management: Ensure high quality data from across government is published on a regular basis
Awareness and Outreach: Plan and host outreach and awareness campaigns for the following target audience: Government official, Media, IT/Software Developers, Civil society, Entrepreneurs, Researchers
The above initiatives will ensure the Open Data Initiatives continues to gain traction and remain relevant for Kenyan citizens.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
An impact analysis has not yet been carried out. However, as of November 2011:
Over 400 datasets published
Over 28,000 page views and
over 2,500 dataset downloaded and embedded to various websites and portals
Given that the idea has only been in place since the last six months, and with increasing demand, the site is currently being customized to give it a Kenyan look so that many citizens can relate to it. There are also opportunities for making the site more navigable and to ensure that there is a follow-up plan so that the current momentum is not lost. Data that touch on the ordinary lives of people such schools, poverty profiles are in high demand.
The initiative has spurred sectoral reforms to have more reliable and consistent data made available for planning and transparency purposes. A new project to bring more real-time and relevant facility level data to the public is being launched in the education sector.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Information and Communications, Ministry of Planning, Visions 2030 Delivery Secretariat
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Bitange Ndemo
Title:   Permanent Secretary  
Telephone/ Fax:   +254 20 2511 52
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   P.O.Box 30025
Postal Code:   00100-GPO
City:   Nairobi
State/Province:   Nairobi
Country:   Kenya

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