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.