WHAT ARE THE SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS USED BY YOUR GOVERNMENT? WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

23/05/2016

The disruptive technologies are facing a wide acceptance in Middle East; a very good example is United Arab Emirates direction to have a smart government. All government entities are supposed to turn their IT investments towards offering smart online solutions for residents.

Dubai government in particular have taken this to the next level, the vision of the country is that offering a friendly smart and online solution is not the entire story, mainly, they believe having a continues improvement of their polices, services and protocols is what matter, for that, Dubai government entities are actively presented on social media. The core believes of the government that no process or policy improvement will bring any more value, unless it comes from the users who are practicing it. They are actively encouraging people to engage with them over social media platform.

For example, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum GBE, also known as Sheikh Mohammed, is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Emir of Dubai is actively using social media platforms to communicate government visions and plan to audience of Dubai, listening to them, and sometime, engaging with users via cover station and feedbacks.

On the other hand, communicating government initiative, plans, and visions is part of Dubai Media Office department. The core task of this office is to communicate government initiatives to public, sense the public sentiment and sometime, inviting random selected people for a discussion. They have been active mainly on Twitter, with wide audience and network up to 1.3+ million followers.

On the other hand, government agencies with essential offered services are also part of the social media presence as part of the government plan to have a winder citizen engagement. A very good example could be DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) with a round 220,000 followers on Facebook, the main task of DEWA is to introduce government initiatives of Sustainable Power plans, Going-Green and other Eco-friendly activities that considered being in line with the country vision towards Expo 2020. It usually engages with people in conversation about power consumption, best practices to avoid wastage of power, and continues involvement and engagement with users on special advices to help them create a green-country.

Talking about government presence on the social media in Dubai, we should bring the attention to one of the most important government department in the country that is responsible of providing a safe place for the residents, Dubai Police.

Dubai Police page on Facebook considered being the most active page that is related to government, with an audience of 500,000 people, and a growth of 6000 users a week on average, it is considered to be the discussion platform for many users who wish to interact with Dubai senior police officers. It is usually known that top officials are monitoring the page and how the department is communicating with public on best safety practices, and new rules and regulations, in a chance to listen to user’s feedbacks, suggestions.

One final example can probably give the reader a satisfactory image on how the government of Dubai is using the social media for an added-value networking and excellent citizen engagement. On the very local level, Dubai Municipality page on Facebook, with 200,000+ followers, engages with users about various topics, from waste management, to city planning projects. They do a lot of engagement campaigns to have closer interactions with residents. The late introduce campaign was “The Best Photo of Dubai” Where users was requested to share their photos of the city in a chance to win a honorable certificate from the government.

Needless to say, all the mentioned above agencies, and particularly, all of the government agencies have enabled a “Complain/Suggestion” mechanism on their websites, and it is seriously looked at from senior official’s point of view. Some of the agencies allow citizens to have direct interactions with ministers.

Conclusion:

From Dubai Government point of view, being on social media actively is part of the strategy towards having a better country. The idea is faster you have feedback from the ground, is faster your ability to learn and change. – Aboud Khederchah, United Arab Emirates.

 


LEGISLATION ON ACCESS TO DATA- BOTSWANA’S CASE STUDY

23/05/2016

INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND

Botswana is a landlocked Sub-Saharan African country located in the southern part of Africa. The country borders South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia. Since its independence from Britain in 1966, the country has been hailed for its prudent management of natural resources, political stability, peace, good governance, democracy and freedom of expression. However the country has been affected dramatically by the HIV/AIDS disease with 18.5% of the country’s 2 million citizens reported to be infected by the disease (Statistics Botswana, 2014). Despite this challenge the country has stable economy and rank high in most of the world’s development indicators such as education, economic development and gender equality.

APPLICATION OF LAW IN BOTSWANA

Due to the country’s legacy of good governance and democracy, the government have always strived to ensure that relevant laws are in place to help guide the developments and reduce uncertainties and ambiguities in the country. Laws are fully debated at parliamentary level with the contribution of citizens taking centre stage through a consultative process. This is also a cultural attribute embedded in the DNA of the citizens referred to as “Morero”, which translate roughly to consultation. Through this process the country has achieved citizen inclusion in government matters while at the same time keeping citizens informed about government’s activities.

LEGISLATION ON ACCESS TO DATA

The efforts to introduce legislation on access to data in Botswana dates back to 1997 as a recommendation of the Presidential Task Group for a Long Term Vision for Botswana report titled “Towards Prosperity for All” (Vision 2016 Commission, 1997). In 2010 a Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) was presented to the parliament. The bill was to pave way for a FOI Act which to this date is still not been finalized.

“The object of the Bill is to extend the right of members of the public to access information in the possession of public authorities by, inter alia –

  • Making available to the public, information about the operations of public authorities and, in particular, ensuring that the rules and practices affecting members of the public in their dealings with public authorities are readily available to persons affected by those rules and practices;
  • Creating a general right of access to information in documentary form in the possession of public authorities, limited only by the exceptions and exemptions necessary for the protection of essential public interests and the private and business affairs of persons in respect of whom information is collected and held by public authorities; and
  • Creating a right to bring about the amendment of records containing personal information that is incomplete, incorrect, misleading or not relevant to the purpose for which the document is held.” (Shaleshando, 2010).

There have been a lot of discussions, especially from media houses and journalists as a way to put pressure on the government but so far their efforts have been fruitless. International experts however have scrutinised the current bill citing that it lack content. Daruwala and Nayak (2011) postulated that in comparison to the Indian Right to Information Act of 2005 the bill doesn’t include a lot of aspects such as DNA data, political parties and private entities performing public services within the definition of “public authority”. However the authors praised the former Member of Parliament, Mr Shaleshando for drafting the bill (Daruwala & Nayak, 2011).

CONCLUSION

It is without no doubt that the FOI Act in Botswana would further strengthen the already existing good governance and democracy upon its finalization. The act will also increase government’s accountability and answerability to its citizens. The government should also view this Act as an opportunity to further reinforce the existing trust that prevails between itself and the citizens. It is this trust that has contributed to the success story of Botswana.  As the world embarks on the Sustainable Development Goals agenda (SDGs) it is of utmost importance that such policies and laws as the access to information by citizens of the world be looked into and countries must be pressurized to implement such policies and laws. It is through such policies and laws that country institutions can be strengthened and eventually peace, justice and strong partnerships be achieved. – Moalosi Lebekwe, Botswana.

REFERENCES

  1. Statistics Botswana. (2014). Botswana AIDS Impact Survey IV (BAIS IV). Gaborone: Replubic of Botswana.
  2. Daruwala, M., & Nayak , V. (2011). Freedom Of Information Bill, 2010, Botswana; Preliminary Comments, Recommendations and Improvements. New Delhi: Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).
  3. Shaleshando, D. (2010). Freedom of Information Bill. Gaborone: Republic of Botswana.
  4. Vision 2016 Commission. (1997). Towards Prosperity of All. Gaborone: Republic of Botswana.

 


Are you aware of any legislation on access to data in your country? Have you ever made use of it?

16/05/2016

In November 2010 Guinea adopted the legislation on the right to access public information (c.f: http://www.africafoicentre.org/index.php/foi-laws/99-guinee-ati-law-fr/file). The adoption of the law was the result of many years discussions to recognize the public’s right to access governmental documents.

This law is based on the principle of transparency, which provide enabling environment for greater accountability and greater responsiveness on the government to the citizens. The rational of this law was to make changes to public institutions including the parliament, which would have long-run benefits for the country’s nascent democracy.

The law provided a legal framework and an action plan:

  • To promote the participation of citizens in decision making and transparency by allowing them general right to access information held by governmental organizations, and by giving them right to access documents information related to them.
  • To organize procedures for exercising the right of access to information
  • To Encourage the development of strong national expertise in information public
  • To establish a presumption in favor of disclosure

However this law has some limitations. In fact, it does not require the government the duty to process applications in a timely, responsible and complete manner. Nor the government clarifies the recourse available to individuals and organizations when they believe their rights of access to information was not respected.

To me this law should be more developed and known by the citizens. In fact, it I would suggest that it contains in addition to the right of access, the right to informaton, the right of opposition, the right of correction, and the right of obilivion.

The right to object would provide that everyone has the opportunity to object, for legitimate reasons, to be included in a file.

The right of access would give anyone with the possibility to examine all data relating to him and may request a copy of which the cost will not exceed that of reproduction.

The right of correction would provide any person establishing his identity the possibility to require the data controller that personal data concerning them which are inaccurate, incomplete, misleading, outdated be rectified, completed, updated, locked or deleted.

Finally the right of oblivion would give any person whose personal information is collected the right to be forgotten. His/her data should not be retained beyond a certain length. This period must not exceed “the duration necessary for the purposes for which they were collected and processed.

Five years later, it is really difficult to draw any rational conclusion as the government did not design monitoring and evaluation procedures. Moreover in most of the public organizations the processes of accessing the information are either not clear or not know to the citizens. Even for the citizens who would know such rights, the archives, if they exist, are hardly exploitable.

On paper we could think that the law would distinguish itself as an essential part of a vibrant democratic society. It would incitate citizens to participate meaningfully in the democratic process, to exercise their right to know and to require the government accountable.

I personally believe that access to information underlies many of the rights and freedoms that we hold closest to our heart and which are among the most notorious, or freedom of expression, freedom of press, the right to vote and rights procedural criminal. However, in the case of my country this information is barely available. Though the law was adopted many government officers still feel that all the information are confidential. For example, it is almost impossible to get information on current infrastructure projects, even the pricing of services in public hospital are not available to the public. The government has not yet put the development of knowledge society into its priority, even e-government which would facilitate the sharing of information of governmental organization would be a great improvement.

The availability of data and Information to the public is essential to draw visions and development objectives for any organizations (public and private).
For example, most international organizations defending human rights today consider access to information as a fundamental human right. Trade associations often highlight the robust laws on access to information can stimulate competition, efficiency and innovation by facilitating the flow of information between government and industry. According to a growing number of advocates of participatory democracy, effective laws on access to information are essential because they allow ordinary citizens to influence the activities of public bodies, and in the public interest.

In most of developing countries the adoption of laws is not enough to rectify the trend. In fact, in most of the cases the laws are adopted then put into oblivion. Moreover the importance of achieving data and information is not understood by the citizens, even the private organizations. That could be the reason they are not very competitive in local and global markets. Therefore, the government is not the only actor to be “blamed” but all or most of the components of the society including the individuals.

With the development of Information Technologies I believe that if the government is lacking behind, the citizens can be the enablers by investing resources on developing private repositories of data and information. We might not be able to ignore the government but individuals(or private organizations) can start compiling and organizing the little existing public data and information, and spread them to the citizens. – Yagouba Traoré, Canada.


Do you think that your data available in your government is safe? Do you know of any legislation in your country regarding the data protection?

09/05/2016

Data in my country is safe as there is multiple privacy and storage techniques have been implemented to save the data.

Moreover the data is encrypted with technologies under security management.

I know about the legislation of my country which are as follows

 

  1. The IT Act 2000 of my country

It contains provisions of protection of electronic data by means of electronic communication.

It provides legal transaction to electronic data in which paper based methods are used by the means of e commerce .Electronic filing is also facilitated.

 

  1. Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011.These rules have three provisions Body Incorporates, Information Providers and the Government.  Tighten its grip over the un-estimated and negligent use of the personal data.

 

  1. The Copyright Act, 1957 protects Intellectual Property rights in literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and cinematographic works. It includes computer databases as well. Therefore, copying a computer database, or copying and distributing a database amounts to infringement of copyright for which civil and criminal remedies can be initiated. The differentiation of data protection and database protection under the

Copyright Act. Data protection is aimed at protecting the informational privacy of individuals, while database protection of the creativity and investment put into the compilation, verification and presentation of databases.

 

  1. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 can be used as an effective means to prevent data theft. Offences such as misappropriation of property, theft, or criminal breach of trust attract imprisonment and fine under the IPC. The offences of theft and misappropriation under the IPC only apply to movable property; it has been defined to include corporeal property of “every description,” except land and things permanently attached to the earth. Therefore, computer databases can be protected under the IPC, as they are movable by their very nature and under the Copyright Act because they are a form of Indian penal.

 

There are certain processes which BPOS implemented which are self-regulatory processes such as the BS 7799 and ISO 17799.the are effective to standardize information security management and restrict the quantity of data that can be made available to their employees. This act completely provides the data safety.

 

These afore mentioned are the few among the legislations adequate safeguards, and to monitor the collected data and its usage. – Rajat Bhatnagar, India


DECENTRALIZED GOVERNANCE: THE NIGERIA EXPERIENCE

21/04/2016

According to Falleti (2005) decentralization is a process of state reform composed by a set of public policies that transfer responsibilities, resources, or authorities from higher to lower levels government in the context of a specific state. Thus in the context of multi-ethnic state like Nigeria, decentralization seek to ensure balance of power as well as national integration.  Nyendu (2002) defined decentralization as the transfer of power and authority from central government to sub- national units, either by political, administrative, economic and fiscal means. Decentralization Governance refers to the restructuring of authority as to have system of co-responsibility between different institutions of governance at the central, state and local levels. (UNDP, 1998:p6)

TYPES OF DECENTRALIZATION

DECONCENTRATION: It is a shift responsibility from central government official to those working in regions or local districts.

DELEGATION: Delegation is a more extensive form of decentralization. Through delegation central government transfer responsibility for decision- making and administration of public function to semi- autonomous organizations.

DEVOLUTION: This involves the transfer of discretionary authority to legally constituted local governments or provinces.

ECONOMIC DECENTRALIZATION AND SEIF-GOVERNANCE: This involves the shifting of responsibilities for economic production and activities from the public to private institution.

ADVANTAGES OF DECENTRALIZATION

  1. Decentralization Governance facilitates greater participation in governance to the people, by brings government closer to the people.
  2. Decentralization Governance helps in taking away too much of centralization of power by the central government conferring power to unit of government.
  • Decentralization Governance gives much attention in term of participatory style of local governance.
  • Decentralization Governance focuses on solutions for local problems to local conditions.

DISADVANTAGES OF DECENTRALIZATION

  1. Problem of Coordination: Decentralization Governance of authority creates problems of coordination as authority lies dispersed widely throughout the organization.
  2. Uniform Policies Not Followed: Under the decentralization governance, it is not possible to follow uniform policies and standardized procedures.
  3. Required Qualified Personnel: Decentralization Governance becomes useless when there no qualified and competent personnel.
  4. Inter-Regional Inequalities: Inter-regional inequalities may increase, and thus widen intra-national poverty gaps.

DECENTRALIZATION POLICY IN NIGERIA

In Nigeria, traces of decentralization dates back to a long-time before independence. At independence in 1960, Nigeria had only a central government and three regional governments, namely, the Northern, Eastern, and Western regions. The need to bring governance closer to the people led to the creation of a fourth region— the Mid-West, in 1963. However, to achieve further decentralization and enhance the federal structure of the country, Nigeria changed from a two-tiered federal arrangement comprising three unequal regions to a three tiered federal system of a central, State and Local governments. Since then, the number of states and local governments has increased.

Table 1. Re-structuring of Nigerian Federal system since 1946 to date

Year Federal government Regional/State governments                  Local governments          
1946 1 4* n/a
1960 1 4* n/a
1961 1 3** n/a
1963 1 4 n/a
1967 1 12 229
1970 1 12 229
1976 1 19 229
1979 1 19 301
1981 1 19 703
1984 1 19 301***
1987 1 21 449
1991 1 30 500
1991 1 30 589
1996 1 36 774****

Source: Central Bank of Nigeria, (2000: 158);

The Nigerian 1999 constitution heaped far reaching responsibilities on the local government, though with the seeming undertone that it is an economic development partner of the state government. Thus, Section 7(3) and (2) provide that: (3) It shall be the duty of a local government council within the State to participate in economic planning and development of the area referred to in subsection (2) of this section and to this end an economic planning board shall be established by a Law enacted by the House of Assembly of the State. Section 7(5) of the 1999 constitution describes the functions to be conferred by Law upon local government council which shall include those set out in the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution.

The situation in Nigeria is that local governments often do not have the resources to carry out most of their functions as the federal and state governments provide only limited funding. The state and LGA joint account is administered by the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC), which determines what goes to each local government. Typically, states have joint projects with the LGAs and deduct funds for such projects through JAAC. The balance of their allocations from the federation account, which is usually only enough to pay salaries and manage administration costs is then transferred to the LGAs. Consequently, the LGAs have a challenge financing their constitutional duties and social services. – Oludare Adedeji Ogunbanwo, Austria.

REFERENCES:

  1. Falleti, T:G (2005); A sequential theory of decentralization: Latin American cases in comparative perspective, American political science review 99(3), 327-346.
  2. Nyendu M. (2002), Democratic decentralization in Ghana: The need for a policy review, journal of Asian and African studies 47 (2), 221-235.
  3. UNDP, Decentralized Governance monograph: A global sampling of experience, management development and governance division, bureau of policy development, April, 1998, p.6.
  4. Source: Central Bank of Nigeria, (2000: 158)

what are the social media channels used by the government and why are they important?

21/04/2016

According to this globalized world everything is changing and becoming easier than before for instance social media is a rapid moving technology which helps governments and other organisations to manage their activities in an ease way day by day.

Similarly, my Somali government uses a lot of social media for its public service such as; Facebook, Twitter, websites and all channels used through internet connection. For example each government official from president up to subordinate staff uses a Facebook account and they publish event and advancements for their offices.  A lot of people are flowing to them by commenting and expressing their attitude about what has done so far.

Somali government officials use social media to measure their dignity in front of public they represent. This helps them to identify their political future and the vote they may expect in the coming elections.

There are a lot of newspapers and web based applications used by Somali government to publish daily news and events also market shares and currency exchange. These sources help for public to know daily circulations and activities of the country.

Moreover, during charity collection; government publish bank accounts through social media for money accumulation to address a standing need such as; drought, famine or any other hazard facing to the society.

There are a lot of importance and advantages for social media in governments, for instance Somali government uses social media to ask people their views about a particular topic. After people expressed their attitude on the offered topic, government analyses the peoples’ ideas into meaningful way which lead to the government to take vital decision about that particular topic.

Somali government uses social media as channels for public education and passes massages and other important information to the public with less or no cost. Using a social media keeps not to use much time for delivering information to the public it is useful for public to deliver massages to the public in an easy and wide manner. Also, it is good for citizens to go with government activities without losing time and energy.

In opposite of that, Somali government uses social media to prevent crimes and planed attacks. It uses as a tool during the time of crime investigation by referring the social media used by suspected individuals.

There are numerous advantages in social media in governments such as; facilitating way of administration, public education, citizen engagement in political participation, crime prevention and investigation, political campaigns in election periods and so on.

In conclusion, social media helps Somali government to deliver its service to public in an easy way with less cost and time. The government uses the social media in a different ways and purposes such as; public education, citizen political participation, crime prevention and investigation. Social media has great importance to both government and public. It is the bridge between government and public for transferring massages and sharing ideas. – Mohamed Hirey, Somalia.

 


Which for of corruption (bribery, trading in influence, extortion, favoritism, misuse of public property) is the hardest to combat? And which form of corruption presents the biggest challenge for State reform?

11/04/2016

Corruption is a term which needs to be avoided for developing a nation.  But this is a regular schedule nowadays in our State in each and everywhere.  From the starting of grass-root level to the top level of administration, corruption is being a flow of direction without which any kind of work cannot be directed or implemented by the authorities concerned.  At present, different Medias are collecting the news and highlighting various types of corruptions and the involvement of different personnel or group of personnel regarding their commitment and reality of implementation with deceptive conspiracy.  Different people of different classes are doing corruption to achieve their personal gains which need not be taken for our social needs.  Political leaders as well as ministers are highly corrupted in their assigned tasks of the society.  Every time they are working dishonestly and taking the facilities of corruption as much as they can avail.  They are committing social crimes as well for their gainful work like rape, murder, dacoity etc. which are usually known as heinous crimes of our human society.

There are different types of crimes like bribery, trading in influence, extortion, favoritism, misuse of public property etc.  Extortion is very hard to combat among the type of crimes in our social definition.  Each and every time common people are the victims of crimes by different provocation initiated by State Cadre Leaders / Ministers.  Indian leaders are working as a social worker or social activist in front of public domain but most of the times a few leaders as well as ministers are working for their personal good by taking the financial support from the large number of common masses behind the public domain.  This situation is increasing day by day and the administrators are also unable to cope up with the situation of rule of law as the local leaders or national leaders or ministers even are taking part in influencing the work of the administration illegally.  These are completely illegal, immoral and opposed to public policy.

The solution can also be there to control for these types of undesirable situation in our State.  Different Types of Statutory and Autonomous Bodies needs to be established so that leaders or ministers can not influence on the work of the administrators.  In addition to this, the power of anti-corruption department should be increased and the digital media should be accessible so that people may avail the help from anyone easily.  Transparency report of all departments should also be directed by a separate team or authority (statutory or autonomous) or agency so that people may know the true facts and figures as far as their requirement concerned.  Most of the transactions should be done through digital communication so that the record of everything can be stored for future contingencies and availability.  Nobody should interfere in the activity of another unless and until the power is assigned with proper justification.  If we can take these types of initiatives, it will be easy to eradicate these types of corruptions from our State as well as Country or from our human society. – Tapas Kumar Debnath, India.


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