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Kenya Leads on Open Data in Developing Countries

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On July 8th 2011, President Mwai Kibaki launched the Kenyan Open Data Initiative, making key government data freely available to the public through a single online portal. The 2009 census, national and regional expenditure, and information on key public services are some of the first datasets to be released. Tools and applications have already been built to take this data and make it more useful than it originally was.

Kenya is the first developing country to have an open government data portal. This brings into focus the supply and demands sides of government information that other countries may take for granted. Raka Banerjee of the World Bank recently wrote that the call for open data should go hand in hand with a call for better quality data: data that might be collected by official government agencies or in this age, by citizens themselves.

On the supply side, The World Bank's indicators on statistical capacity measure various aspects of a government's statistical systems. From an overview of Kenya, one can see where World Bank programs such as STATCAP add value by strengthening these national systems and improving the supply of official government data. Open government initiatives require teams across ministries and departments to work together to make open government a sustained success.

On the demand side, with over a hundred requests from the public for new datasets , it's clear that there's a desire for more information. People want similar data in all countries: land registry, company registrations and employment statistics to name a few. Kenyans also want data that citizens of more developed countries may be less likely to ask for: fire protection information (how many fire engines are there per county?), school payment disbursement data (do government funds actually reach schools?) and livestock populations.

Kenya’s Permanent Secretary, Mr. Bitange Ndemo, addressed  the World Bank earlier in July to share his experience in championing the open government data initiative in Kenya. To find-out more, click here.

Map from linking to data factsheets on individual Kenyan counties.
Kenya Open Data map


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