We’re excited! Are you?: Uganda’s First CivicTech Breakfast
With the rising trend of civic technology globally, Uganda’s entrepreneurial market has also found it’s place in developing solutions to improve how citizens and government interact around public service delivery. On Wednesday, Pollicy had the opportunity to bring together some of the brightest minds to discuss and demo the present and future of civic technology in Uganda at our first CivicTech Breakfast.
After getting fueled with coffee and snacks from Kigezi Coffee, our 12 participants from NITA Uganda, Evidence & Methods Lab, CIPESA, WOUGNET, Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, Sparkplug, Matchstick, KAS Uganda, Mango Tree, UN Pulse Lab and ACODE got down to introductions and describing their most exciting current projects.
Right after the introductions, we dived right into presentations and the first one came from the folks at the Evidence Methods Lab led by Michael Katagaya. Evidence And Methods Lab is a Ugandan civic technology initiative working in the areas of access to information, accountability and innovation. Their main mission is to enable transparency and accountability from government bodies through easy-to-digest infographics and videos. Their goals are simplifying, visualising and sharing data.
“We desire to see an informed citizenry and we intend to achieve that by creating appealing, readable, understandable, accessible and utilisable content”.
- Michael Katagaya
Right after Michael, Ray Besiga took on the floor to present about Urb, a tool created by his company Sparkplug to make cities smarter by providing a platform for citizens to set the agenda for dialogue around change in their communities. Urb seeks to help citizens be able to report and share issues affecting their neighborhoods hence have authorities and service providers respond to issues in real-time.
Urb which is a short form for Urban — a social platform for residents in specific suburbs in Kampala city to post complaints and requests for public services which are directly sent to concerned government bodies.
- Ray Besiga
Phoebe Atukunda from ACODE, then took on the stage to give the third presentation of the morning as folks seemed eager to learn more about initiatives aimed at people in rural areas or with low access to smartphones. ACODE is an independent public policy research and advocacy think tank in Uganda with operations in the Eastern and Southern Africa sub-region. They manage a feedback platform which enables citizens in 35 districts across Uganda to send text messages with queries or concerns to their respective local councils through the platform. “We are delighted that when we got to some rural areas some people had smartphones and this made our a work a little better. However, majority don’t have smartphone making us focus more on SMS based feedback”, noted Phoebe.
Because it was not a class session but rather an interactive session, thoughtful questions were swayed in the direction of the presenters, including both positive criticism and knowledge sharing. Some participants were more concerned about how information is disseminated on civic technology initiatives and others were curious about business models and sustainability.
Right after the planned presentations, when we thought it was all done, Roy Mukasa from the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda shared his pilot project dubbed User in order to show the similarities and potential partnership opportunities with Urb. User.ug is a platform developed in collaboration with UNDP and partners from Seoul with an aim to allow users to see in depth details of current and in-development projects of KCCA.
We are aiming to have regular CivicTech breakfasts that bring together different players from across the space to present, dialogue and partner within the community. Moving forward, we plan to incorporate themes within each meeting and provide a learning opportunity to participants, whether it’s on a new open-source tool or a successful project elsewhere.
We’re interested in learning more about how we can meet the needs of this growing community in Kampala. If you have any questions or comments, leave one below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.