Document Type

Conference Paper




In the recent years, Governments both in developed and developing countries are embracing open data initiatives as fundament al in facilitating government transparency, accountability, and public participation by making data freely available to the public. In addition, open data serves as an essential cornerstone in supporting technological innovation and economic growth by enabling third parties to develop new kinds of digital applications and services (Gray 2014; Ding et al. 2011; Shadbolt et al. 2012).

Despite the rising uptake of such initiatives, little has been written on the experience as well as the skills and knowledge for citizens in open data and technology environments. This paper seeks to fill this gap by presenting unique lessons learnt from the implementation of Kenya’s globally acclaimed Open Data Portal which was launched in July 2011. Kenya forms an interesting study choice as the country was the first developing country in sub-Saharan Africa and the second on the continent after Morocco to develop the portal. The portal, powered by Socrata Inc, aims to make core government developmental, demographic, statistical and expenditure data available for researchers, policymakers, ICT developers and the general public.

The varying technological, economical, and cultural differences in Kenya significantly affect access and usage of the portal as seen in wide inequalities in technical expertise, internet access, and extent of use. In addition, there are various system and management challenges inhibiting the utility and ease of interaction of the Portal. These challenges include empty datasets, broken links, obsolete information, and lack of numerous datasets requested by the public which date back to over two years.

The authors who are Kenyan citizens explore the challenges and best practices learnt from implementation of Kenya Open Data Portal and discuss from a citizen’s view point these unique and interesting findings and how they relate and contrast to other countries.

Publication (Name of Journal)