Learner’s Submission: How societies can move forward for a better future

“There exist a range of arguments on how a society can fight poverty, widen investment opportunities for its people given scarcity of resources and move forward for a better future.  This might be a function of what continent that a country is, which region in the continent or who its trading partners are. But these are only some of the external forcings that may define a development path for a country but are never sufficient to push forward a nation’s net wealth to levels where citizens can appreciate effort made by their governments in improving welfare of the otherwise pauper population. Internal organization and reorganisation is inevitable for a country that wants to double or triple its growth rate. This can be done by citizen engagement through their representatives, active civil society organisations and other lobby groups who can speak for the voiceless and point at mistakes that would have remained unresolved in absence of this input. Citizen participation in decision making is particularly crucial for development of any society. Literature indicates that countries that move forward invent and innovate in research and science and have their governments held responsible for decisions they make. Systems of governance in these countries are neither peculiar nor are these countries endowed with bountiful resources than others but leadership in place takes responsibility to ensure that there is equity and equality to all citizens. In these countries there is no person who is on her own when it comes to national development. That has been the secret. And the way to do it is through open data governance.

Kenya launched its open data portal in 2011. The aim was to give citizens information critical for decision making and for development. This was a bold step by the Kenyan government being the first one in the region and second in Africa. But progress comes in fixes and strides. Although there are several databases uploaded to the portal, several downloaded and demand to upload more data made by the public, which may indicate the usefulness of this portal, the system is far from reaching its target as data cannot be authenticated in country where corruption is the order of the day. It does not matter whether a country disseminates its data to the public unless its accurate for that is when it can be useful for decision making. Disseminating inaccurate data retards progress. It impairs making big decisions. Like acne to the body, inaccurate data tarnishes the image of a country. That is not to say that it is a bad thing. Open data governance is a great idea but users of this data should be involved actively in assenting data before it is uploaded to the portal for use by the general public. It is a different thing utilizing technology to publish and disperse information that can help improve welfare of the people and a different thing altogether establishing on whether that information was authentic or not.” – Obed Nyangena, Narok, Kenya

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