Tuesday, 17 June 2014

ICT4Democracy Partners Participate in CeDEM14 (2014 International Conference on e-Democracy & Open Governance) in Krems, Austria

During the CeDEM14 held at Danube University Krems, Austria from May 21st – 23rd, 2014, Johnstone Baguma (ToroDev) and Wilfred Warioba’s (CHRAGG) participated and presented project researched papers on e-participation for good governance and promotion of human rights in Uganda, Tanzania (Eastern Africa), respectively. More so, Johnstone Baguma chaired a session on “Citizens’ Participation in Governance Processes through ICT in Eastern Africa”. This is a presentation track that was lobbied for the ICT4Democracy Network for East Africa by some partners from the network who participated in the CeDEM13. The track was eventually included in the CeDEM14 and three projects from the network presented papers and were also published in the annual edition of the CeDEM14 proceedings.

Some of the CeDEMI4 participants
Mr. Warioba’s project paper covered a conceptual and technical description of how mobile technology is used to promote human rights advocacy and protection in Tanzania, through the work of the Commission for Human Rights & Good Governance (CHRAGG). Specifically, through the support of the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (SPIDER), CHRAGG developed a mobile system to ease the reporting of human rights abuses and feedback on cases reported in Tanzania by use of Mobile SMS. The system has enabled the reporting of human rights cases more than double in Tanzania. But also, Tanzanians are able to understand their rights and when to report if encountered with any abuse. The paper shows cases of the potential of ICT in promoting social and human dignity, but also encouraging accountability as far as human rights protection is concerned in Tanzania and the entire Eastern Africa.

Johnstone Baguma makes his paper presentation 
On the other hand, Johnstone Baguma’s paper presentation described the relevance of ICT convergence approach in Uganda and drew on other relevant and related experiences in Eastern Africa region. In particular, the paper looks at the combination of ICT tools use and how it has empowered rural communities in Western & Northern Uganda through the SPIDER supported projects implemented by ToroDev and WOUGNET, respectively. The citizens can now mobilize themselves by use of ICT tools to meet together offline and intuitively deliberate on key issues pertaining improvement of essential service delivery in their districts or localities – which was not the case before the projects implementation. The ICT tools have also raised the sense of responsiveness amongst leaders to adhere to the needs of the electorate/local citizens. The assertiveness, engagement and public policy awareness among local citizens and how it affects service delivery has also increased in western and Northern Uganda. Moreover, their paper describes a steady improvement in the ICT infrastructure in the Eastern African region and how it has contributed to ICT uptake levels despite other socio-economic and political limiting factors. The use of broadcast, online social media and mobile technologies to engage government and the public in Kenya during the constitutional reform processes, selection of public officials and contributing to a relatively peaceful and fair electoral process in 2013, were also cases analyzed in Baguma’s paper presentation. The presentation also highlighted findings of the study report conducted by CIPESA on the ICT tools utilization for e-participation and democracy monitoring in Uganda. Conversely, his paper also analyzes the controversial policies and legislations in Uganda and other East African countries that appear to be taking away what the “other hand” of the policies give – therefore, causing confusion in understanding real commitment of governments to advance the ICT for development agenda in the region.

The International Conference on e-Democracy & Open Governance is a global forum that annually brings together ICT practitioners, researchers, academicians, public officials, donors and private investors to discuss new trends in using ICT tools to realize improved citizen participation in governance processes and use of open data/information for democratization. It presents an important opportunity to the ICT4Democracy Network for East Africa partner members to showcase their work on an international platform. ICT4Dem partners also learn experience and challenges elsewhere in the world on how ICT for Development tools and platforms are used to share data/information and knowledge for transparency/open governance and enabling democratic practices to thrive through citizen participation in the governance processes.

More information about the conference, please go to http://www.donau-uni.ac.at/cedem
For related analysis and publication of the above presentations, consider also this; http://digitalgovernment.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/democratic-engagement-through-ict-in-eastern-africa/
You may also listen to the Audio analysis of Johnstone Baguma and Wilfred Warioba’s presentations at CeDEM14 here; http://digitalgovernment.wordpress.com/ or http://we.tl/32l2sRSb59
For CeDEM14 pictures, please go to;

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