Learner’s Submission: Open government data for Citizen Engagement in Ethiopia

“The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) constitution guarantees freedom of expression, opinion and thought under article 29. The freedom of expression as recognized in the constitution consists of the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. Accordingly the public is at liberty to receive information about the working of the government representing them. By the same token, press and other mass media are entitled to gather information in the process of seeking ideas and disseminating them to the public. This means that the government is duty bound to be transparent and let its documents accessible to the press so long as it is for public interest.

To achieve this end, The FDRE ministry of information and communication technology (then after named as ministry) is committed in expanding open data, and through which it tries to ensure the highest level of satisfaction, transparency and effectiveness in decision and policy making. For instance, the ministry has created the portal in which it disseminates open data, and through this portal the Stakeholders are also encouraged to participate in various channels such as opinion polls, discussion forums, and blogs and share their suggestions or feedback on matters of interest.

The other point that is worth to mention here is e-Consultation. The ministry has a time of electronic consultation with its stakeholder. Often a time, the Consultation topics has been decided by the ministry, during which, stakeholders will be able to post their opinions and suggestions. At the end of the duration, the consulted topic will be archived, and the ministry will use the collected feedback from its stakeholders to help in policy making, decision making or piloting new opportunities.

The other ministry in the country that uses portal to disseminate and receives information is the FDRE Ministry of Health. The Ministry’s portal is a two way platform through which both the ministry and stakeholder exchanged information. The portal is accessible and easy to use to all users. This portal is 100% compatible with Internet Explorer version 6.0 and above, and mostly compatible with Firefox, Netscape, Opera and major other web browsers.  Through this portal, the ministry releases important data to the public, and open a chance to citizen to reuse the data, and forward their suggestion.

To sum up the entire points, the country has believed that the expansion of open data promote the transparency and accountability of the public sector. This, in turn, leads to the development and democratization of the country. Therefore, the government put the expansion of open data as its first strategic priorities.” – Million Tolessa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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