About Juliana Rotich

African, Kenyan, Global citizen, Co-Founder of Ushahidi & Mobisoko, TED Senior Fellow. Cosmic girl.

One idea for Africa’s Internet Future

A recent Mozilla report from Kenya brought to light the fact that web there are millions of people getting online who do know what the internet is, that the internet is theirs, that it is not one walled garden, and are not aware of the possibilities of creation and not just consumption. That
“The Internet and its potential are yet to be discovered by a substantial amount of people. Participants mainly considered the Internet as a way of interacting with others through social media, and are not aware of other resources the Internet has to offer.”

Consider that there is also an emerging problem of internet fragmentation; in various forms. The first type of fragmentation to highlight is commercial fragmentation, of which walled gardens is a particular issue. See Vint cerf paper on internet fragmentation.

Commercial Fragmentation A variety of critics have charged that certain commercial practices by technology companies also may contribute to Internet fragmentation. The nature of the alleged fragmentation often pertains to the organization of specific markets and digital spaces and the experiences of users that choose to participate in them, but sometimes it can impact the technical infrastructure and operational environments for everyone. Whether or not one considers commercial practices as meriting the same level of concern as, say, data localization is of course a matter of perspective. Certainly there are significant concerns from the perspectives of many Internet users, activists and competing providers in global markets. As such, the issues are on the table in the growing global dialogue about fragmentation, and they therefore merit consideration here. Accordingly, in this section we briefly survey five sets of issues: peering and standardization; network neutrality; walled gardens; geo-localization and geo-blocking; and infrastructure-related intellectual property protection.”

“zero rating ends up violating net neutrality and favouring the supplier and its selected partners in a manner that limits people’s’ access to and understanding of the Internet.

Why is this problem urgent? – The generativity of the internet is at risk. With the stated aspirations of African leaders to lead the digital revolution; it would be important to consider the risks to this digital revolution if key issues of net neutrality, internet freedom and most of all… access are not tackled head on with clear mandates, collaborations and projects to address these issues.

Consider this idea: A digital survival guide for the 21st century.
What if we could educate current and future generations on what the internet is, its ethos, its culture, its history. What it is and what it could be? What if we included internet and web literacy as part and parcel of learning programs in Africa and the world?

What are the initial ideas to get started on right away?

1. Work with partners to have educational content about the Internet included in the curriculum deployed to the edges of society. For this, I am excited to announce that the Internet Society of Kenya agrees to join BRCK.org in this regard.

2. Work with partners to deploy educational content about the Internet to community centers (turned into digital community centers), alongside the online starter toolkit, digital job training materials, women and youth empowerment activities. Intel Foundation is looking at projects in Kenya for this.

3. Support organizations on the ground with connectivity services – CISCO is providing support for connectivity as the next Africa Cancer Foundation provides free screenings!

There is more to do; and it is quite encouraging when we see governments, philanthropists, private sector and civil society engage on these matters from many angles.

If these ideas sound interesting to you, do get in touch info@brck.org and let us figure out how we can do our part to ensure that we are rolling our sleeves and doing our part for the next generation of african technologists and yes, that we are contributing to the African digital revolution.

Thank you Monte Carlo


I had the immense honor of receiving an award that has been given to women in different industries over the last 5 years. The theme for this year’s event at Femme De L’annee was women in technology. To have my work over the years and current work in deploying technology for marginalized areas plus supporting other entrepreneurs in Africa recognized was humbling and encouraging. In looking back at how my journey has shaped up over the years, I have nothing but gratitude for my late dad, my uncle Mr. Singoei, my mum and the teachers who showed me that a love for science and knowledge was something to embrace. The many inspiring women and men that I have met and worked with over the years who’ve shown me that we can open up frontiers collaboratively and keep leaving dents on this universe. It was is an honor indeed and a kindness to my spirit any my heart as I continue my work this year.


To be honored under this theme of tech means a lot to me. Thank you to the selection committee of Femme De L’annee, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Cinzia, Owanto, Beatrice and the Walgreens Boots Alliance. Thank you for this honor of being Monte Carlo Woman of the Year, it encourages me to continue using technology to tackle challenges in Kenya and globally. To continue thinking of ways to bring constructive value to healthcare services through connectivity, working with partners to see which challenges we can tackle together.



Technology at the frontiers of Change: Connectivity for Cancer Screening

Meet Dorothy Nyongo: She is an amazing woman and founder of The Africa Cancer Foundation; which is a non-profit organization that promotes cancer awareness and prevention by early detection, provides support to cancer patients and caregivers, and is involved in the development of guidelines and protocols for cancer diagnosis, treatment and healthcare provision. She started this organization after the early detection and successful treatment of her husband Anyang Nyongo

Dorothy Nyongo, Juniour Nyongo and Mrs Munya

ACF has a network of over 700 volunteers. On that day in Meru, there were several stations for registration, taking of vitals like blood pressure, body mass index, diabetes screening (in partnership with Kenya Diabetes Management centre). At several of these stations there were volunteers with mobile phones with an app by ACF

Initially, this process required each phone used to have a line and an individual service plan, which was expensive and inconvenient. That is where we stepped in. In four of the data collection points – the reception, breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening and prostate cancer screening rooms. One BRCK’s connection could be shared between four or five people, thus minimizing the overall costs of data.

When you imagine internet connectivity in a people-driven context, you seldom remember that it can be used not just for social media or Education, but also to make it easier to store and retrieve useful health information, a use that becomes more profound when dealing with a disease like cancer where early detection and prevention is a huge factor in minimizing incidences.

With the increase in the uptake of smartphones and the increasing coverage of mobile networks, ACF has come up with a smartphone app for the collection and storage of the data collected during cancer screenings. Volunteers are equipped with a smartphone with the app installed and then use this to gather and send information to the cloud.

When I speak to global audiences I often make the point that technology is a means not an end in itself; and that technology as an enabler. To see this and experience it first hand with Africa Cancer Foundation (ACF) was a reminder of this in many ways. ACF has a great network of volunteers.I had the privilege of speaking with one of them. Gorety Mwai. She inspired me so with her dedication, attention to detail and hard work. She studies public health and is a wonderful volunteer who was registering people for their screening all day with efficiency, a smile and diligence. Here she is after a long day, answering a few questions about how the day went and how the tech we brought worked out.

Amwai – Africa Cancer Foundation from Juliana Rotich on Vimeo.

With this experience, we learned first hand that connectivity and reliable technology has an important enabling role for tackling many challenges. The collaborations with partners from foundations, private sector, and government can be complemented highly by technology companies/organizations that seek to add constructive value to ongoing work. Extending that work into marginalized areas is the next big challenge.

With Cisco’s support, BRCK.org will be providing connectivity for the next cancer screening in the coastal area of Kenya later in the year and subsequently in other areas of Kenya, and will also be exploring other ways of extending reliable technology to the edges of society.

Indeed there has never been a better time to embrace technology at the frontiers of change.

Joining Africa Technology Ventures

One of the gaps in the technology landscape of East Africa and Nigeria is funding for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at seed and early growth stage. As an advisor to startups with a lot of potential and my own angel investing experiences, this gap in financing is one that I would like to tackle and help fill. I met Eline Blaauboer (TBL Mirror Fund; Safaricom Spark Fund; East Africa Venture Capital Association) and Mairead Cahill (Dalberg; M-KOPA; BT) through mutual friends. They are the managing partners of Africa Technology Venture. After several discussions and meetings, we had similar thoughts on what is needed to help propel startups in Africa to the next level and more importantly how I would be able to do my part to fill this gap.

I am delighted to announce that I will be joining Africa Technology Ventures as Venture Partner.

We are raising investment for a $50m venture capital fund (“Africa Technology Ventures” or “ATV”) alongside an enterprise development facility, which will invest in and support the growth of tech enabled start-ups in East Africa and Nigeria; that have the potential to scale and create value in key sectors including Agriculture, Consumer, Education, Energy, Financial Services and Healthcare. The Fund will be based in Nairobi and Lagos and brings together a team of experienced international and local tech entrepreneurs, investors and advisors.

This is an exciting opportunity and one that I am looking forward to learning and growing in. I will be at TED 2016 this week, if you are attending, do ping me via email contact [at] julia [dot] na



Cross posted on the Ushahidi blog

There comes a time in every journey when the road reveals great vistas and wonderful new opportunities. It is almost 5 amazing years since I took on the role of Executive Director at Ushahidi and it is now time for me to transition to the next phase of my life and career.

When we began with Ushahidi in 2008, I was typical programmer, inward looking and unaware of the scale of the impact that the code we were writing would create. When I met with Erik, Ory, David and Daudi, I had no idea that our energy, passion and the sum of our technical and intellectual knowledge could help provide solutions for massive human challenges. Much has been written about the innovation that became the platform and the organization that is Ushahidi but at the heart of the story is a testament to the power of ideas, collaboration and technology.

Over the past 5 years, I have grown tremendously both professionally and personally. I have learnt a lot about people, running an organization and the importance of teamwork. I am eternally grateful to my friends and colleagues that have travelled this journey with me, burnt the midnight oil many, many nights and shared the dream of improving humanity.

It has been my privilege to lead and serve this team of extraordinary people, witnessing their dedication and recognizing that the business of doing good takes everything. I am proud of what we have achieved together. During my time at Ushahidi we built a global community, and continued to blaze trails particularly in Kenya with creation of the iHub and the birth of an African “silicon savannah”. We have accomplished a lot. Some of the highlights for me are:

  • Over 90,000 deployments of Ushahidi, in 159 countries
  • Translations into 50 languages
  • 6.5m Posts or “Testimonies” from all over the world
  • Reaching a population of 20 million
  • $1 Per Direct Impact
  • From web to mobile applications with SMSsync, iOS and Android
  • Grown the sustainability of the organisation by increasing consulting income by more than 75% year on year to $750,000 in 2015.
  • Part of the fund manager consortium of the USD 55m Making All Voices Count Grand Challenge
  • Implementing partner for The Rockefeller Foundation’s Resilience Network Initiative
  • Innovation capacity building and network building through expanding the technology ecosystem in Kenya to include new iHub Nairobi initiatives, BRCK, Akirachix and Gearbox
  • Significant clients include: World Bank, Al Jazeera, Conservation International, World Vision, and the United Nations Department of Field Services.
  • Funding diversification: Omidyar Network, MacArthur, Cisco, Google and Ford, as well as funding through programs and earned revenue from clients.

These are just a few of the accomplishments, there are many more and I am sure many yet to come. Above all we have impacted lives and brought the power of the technology to bear in our pursuit of transparent and better governance. We have also made the world sit up and recognize that African ideas have Global relevance and value. We have contributed to changing the African narrative and shown that we are not a continent of dependence and despair but a wellspring of innovation and enterprise.

I have also worked with many amazing people who have inspired me to think about strategy, scale, practical execution and sustainability. Whilst the learnings have been exponential these questions remain mostly unresolved and will form part of my focus as I move forward.

I will miss my friends and colleagues who challenged and surprised me throughout the years. We will still work together albeit in a different capacity as I continue to provide strategic advice and guidance as a member of the Ushahidi board and as I continue to support the leadership team.

As I transition Daudi Were, who is currently leading our work with Making All Voices Count will take on the role of interim Executive Director and I am completely confident that as an insider and long standing member of the team he will ensure that the organisation navigates these changes smoothly and efficiently. Daudi Were brings fresh energy, passionate commitment and the power of a super connector across the tech and international development community.

As many of you will know we have also been developing BRCK and its subsidiaries over the last two years and I will continue to be an integral part of its growth. There is a lot to be done to realise the full Global potential for BRCK so my energies will be focused on building strategic partnerships, accelerating new business and helping to establish commercial ventures.

During one cycle of the testing phase of BRCK, we took an expedition from Nairobi, Kenya crossing several African countries by road, on our way to Johannesburg. As many a weary traveller would tell you, the journey can enrich you while it challenges you, and ultimately it will reshape you. What I saw were the many gaps in local ecosystems which can be tackled by innovative technology, a better understanding of complex systems and a sincere commitment to constructive value.

So, as I prepare to move to my next phase, I realize that this is the new space that I want to explore. In my (solar powered) backpack, filled with dreams and visions of the future I will also carry with me the invaluable lessons and experiences from Ushahidi. I know that new adventures are both exciting and daunting but that passion and compassion for humanity are an invaluable companion.

What Traversing Africa by Road Can Teach us about Technology, Community, and Impact

Crossposted on the Ushahidi blog

TLDR: The scope of impact in Africa for work is great and an inspiration for the work ahead in 2015. Similar problems exist in various African countries and similar opportunities and the incredible chance to participate in a bolder stake on the future of the continent. Local communities have a key role in shaping strategy and can teach us a lot about what works where. With Ushahidi’s interlocking role of creating software tools for empowerment with its innovation catalyst role, the sandbox for its impact can be expanded.

Market TZ

This is a picture of a market in Tanzania. To the right of this picture is a parking lot with cabs and trucks and as I was waiting for my colleague Mark to register SIM cards, I could hear lectures by Julius Nyerere blaring from a Volkswagen van. In addition, the cab driver was listening parliament proceedings. Coming from Kenya where engagement with government is not as robust as this, it was quite encouraging. (Later found out that there was a major scandal and many were following because of that, but still, the level of citizen engagement in Tanzania is inspiring). The potential to add technology to this engagement equation was inescapable and something we’ll be keen to explore with partners currently working there. The big take away was that because of this variability in citizen engagement, the strategies for implementation and adoption of technology (including Ushahidi’s tools) will need to be adjusted to keep this in mind. What is needed is more connection with the key local organizations and learning how best to serve them.


This is a picture of Co-founder of Bongohive Lukonga Lindunda speaking with entrepreneurs outside Bongohive space. Lukonga, his co-founders and team have been in touch with us at Ushahidi for several years now. It was an immense honor to meet them in their beautiful new space adorned with African art and filled with entrepreneurs,volunteers who I recognized from working together on Bantuwatch in 2011 (an implementation of Ushahidi to track the elections in Zambia) and women like Chisenga who’ve been part and parcel of growing Bongohive. This was the location of greatest connection and an important lesson that community is always important, and that with the expansiveness of the continent, it is important to keep connecting with the key drivers in each country who are building ecosystems of opportunity. Communities like iHub and Bongohive are important for building stable and equitable societies and key users of Ushahidi tools.


It is a long game/long road… but when you meet a startup/social enterprise that is less than 2 years and already creating jobs, it just adds more reason to Ushahidi’s role as a catalyst, assisting and supporting (without supplanting) wherever possible. To foster environments that protect and reinforce fundamental human rights, it is going to take engagement on many levels, with various initiatives and partners. In building on the discussions with board of Ushahidi, partners who spent time with Ushahidi in Nairobi this last quarter, it is exciting to envision scaling our work, moreso with communities in Lusaka, Zambia, Johannessburg, South Africa, Harare Zimbabwe, and Maputo in Mozambique. We have the pieces in place with the software development group, the solutions team and Gearbox, iHub, Making All Voices Count partnership on the catalyst end. One of Ushahidi’s spin outs – BRCK continues to provide the hardware that will be useful to expand our work to the edge of the network. That is where even more impact can happen.

Looking forward to the new year with current and new partners engaged in creating more opportunity.

Platforms, Institutions and Ecosystems

It is a crisp early morning at The iHub UX lab in bustling Nairobi. I just finished a meeting with the Gearbox founding consortium and I am about to settle in for a busy day at the Ushahidi office. What is on my mind is platforms, institutions and ecosystems. Literally (Version 3.0 of Ushahidi is baking in the oven plus www.crisis.net is live) and figuratively.

When looking at the technology space, with the runaway success of Apple and its strategy as a platform company that has created a lucrative ecosystem of devices, applications and network of developers, I feel compelled to revisit this important facet of strategy. The platform.

JP Rangaswami aptly put it when he wrote a series on this, beginning with this important observation.

Platforms enable ecosystems. They are “multi-sided” like exchanges and marketplaces, focused on simplifying interactions between participants.
As David Weinberger said recently, the smartest person in the room is now the room.

In our work, be it at a company, non-profit or institution, we have to ask ourselves, how does the strategy we pursue to increase value or impact dovetail with platform thinking? For some guidance on this, again – JP Rangaswami is our man.

We learn from him that
1. Platforms create value by enabling social interactions between participants. This has allowed people to build platforms themselves and sharing applications built ontop of the platform.
2. Sharing also creates value by reducing waste: The efficiency for anyone who has used services like Uber or other paragons of the sharing economy does not need a reminder on this.
3. All this sharing creates big, small and open data: Where it takes machines to filter, and a human to curate or be a skilled creator.

All the above lessons have implications for us on many levels. On a personal level, I ask myself, which platforms am I creating and in turn, which ecosystem am I building and participating in? I am reminded that with the deluge of data and complexity of networks, not to forget that when systems are highly complex, individuals matter. What is my contribution as an individual? What is yours?

For leaders of institutions, what is the implication for you? For your strategy? Do you play the open/closed game? How does it bode for your organization as the world continues its pace of technology adoption, automation and innovation? Where would you like your organization to be in in the arc of progress? Will you be the platform, will you build on the platform and will you have a key role as part of the ecosystem?

For policy makers and government leaders. Do you have a grasp of platform thinking? How do you evolve policies to look at what Fred Wilson aptly calls platform monopolies?

“…the Internet is a network and the dominant platforms enjoy network effects that, over time, lead to dominant monopolies.”

Do you keep up with the technological times and do you strongly insist on companies to provide API (Application programming interfaces) to encourage competition?
What role can government play in supporting and encouraging a healthy tech ecosystem? What does a healthy tech ecosystem even look like for your locale?

One of the people I am lucky to interact with several times a year as part of the MIT Media Lab Director’s fellows program is Joi Ito. Like other products of the periphery like him, I find his guidance, inspiration and example something that speaks to me directly and as I saw when he visited us in Nairobi, inspired us too. I am fortunate that I can answer the question for myself today as to which platform, which organization and which ecosystem and network I have a key contribution to make. That this network is both local and global is something that I am delighted about.

Here is a video of the Director’s Fellows Offsite in Nairobi. We learned together what its like to be part of institutions that think of themselves as platforms and to make together.

MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellows Offsite in Nairobi from Juliana Rotich on Vimeo.

In Celebration of Teams

I took a short break to unplug. I had limited success with completely unplugging from the internet and from work, but slowed down enough to get some perspective. The main thing that leaped out at me when I thought about the work I am involved in, is the team. You often see lists recognizing individuals (I have been fortunate and honored to be on some of these lists). I think it is time for some lists honoring great teams.
There are many different models to use as you consider your team dynamics and leadership style.

The Ushaverse team

I was asked several questions about leadership and teams, with one of the questions being;
what leadership advice would you give others?

I think It takes humility to listen, to look around and participate with your team. To see potential in others, to support and uplift without supplanting and dictating. As Joi Ito, Director of MIT Media Lab says, compasses over maps.
Your leadership compass will be as unique as your team and you. It takes awhile to figure it out, but once you do, there is much joy in being a leader and being part of a great team. The culture you build is what will continue to inspire and guide you through difficult times. It forms the foundation on which you can build ecosystems, and yes…innovate.

As I get back to work and travel, I want to thank Rob Baker, Erik Hersman, Nat Manning, Daudi Were and the entire ‘Ushaverse’ team for pushing onwards and having my back when I needed to take a quick break. I am happily dialing back in with much excitement for all the work in store.

Lessons from my Grandmother

I learned a lot this year. When things are quite difficult, you learn even more. With loss, you can’t help but reflect and wrap your mind around the fact that someone is not in your life anymore. This is the year our family lost our grandmothers, our gogo. The word gogo means Grandmother/Grammy/Meemaw in Nandi. I would like to tell you about one of my grandmothers – Gogo Martina Chelagat Tum. She came from the edge. She would tell me stories of the migration journey by the Nandi people in Rift Valley, Kenya. My aunt Wilfrida soaked in all that and more and is now the family’s oracle when it comes to our history. Losing her was difficult not just for me but for the entire family. In thinking about her legacy, I realized that there was a running thread between the things she embodied and some lessons I hope not to ever forget.

Gogo grew up in a world that most would say had very little. she didn’t have a brick house, her house was semi-permanent, covered with with a layer of clay found by the nearby rivers. she didn’t have a flushing toilet…an outhouse she and grandpa made, 50 meters from her hut was her only option. She didn’t have electricity…wax candles and kerosene brought light in darkness for much of her life. Her small kitchen was actually a haven for all of us. A utilitarian space that brought us much joy despite the smoke that would get into our eyes while she cooked.
But to my gogo, the ‘little’ she had didn’t bother her…All without a lecture. She embodied such strength, contentment and joy. This is my gogo with my niece. Notice her hand: She is holding a piece of twine that she was going to use for a gift. She was making it into a kind of thread that she would use to weave beads into a gourd, a functional device for storing milk, but later became a sort of memento she would give each of her grandchildren whenever we hit a milestone in life. She was indeed creative and innovative. To look around and use the materials around you to make pots, to line the walls of the houses with mud from the river, to learn the herbs in the forest, and ooh to make the most delicious vegetables. Creation is a selfless task. A task that I have found to be even more enriching when done with others.

She made things. She lived in a time where…you had to make, for something to exist. A time where you had to use your hands.


My granny used to make beaded jewelry, she was easy going, content and happy. In this world that she lived in, it was also important to fix things. To recycle, re-use old containers, not to waste. It was a hard life for her growing up and how she and my grandfather brought up my father, uncles and aunts is something that I am still amazed at. In her,
My friend Teddy Ruge wrote this post about the need for a fixer movement, pushing back a little on Clive Thompson’s piece in Wired Magazine. As I was thinking about the things gogo embodied, I realized that she showed us the importance of fixing things with whatever you have available.


I have come to realize that gogo was not just a grandmother, but a maker, a fixer. In thinking about her life it shows that the story of the maker movement is as old and as intertwined with African culture as time itself. It is not just a movement in San Fransisco’s silicon valley or Berlin’s co-working spaces. It is part and parcel of our heritage. It is important to understand the things that our heritage gives us, the gifts – as part of the continuum of our work and our lives.

Early this year, my gogo passed away, and there was a sudden emptiness. I had lost my gogo, my grandmother. I had lost the woman who made fun of my braces, whose hugs were wrapped in joy, and whose laughter would fill a room. The person whom I felt grounded around. The anchor in my hectic life. It hit me hard. Turns out losing her was not just my loss our family’s loss, but also the loss to a community. During gogo’s funeral, I found out that she was not only my grandmother, she not only fed our extended family, but the community around her were touched by her kindness. She and grandpa provided matchboxes for the nearby Carmelite Monastery (a tradition our family is continuing now). Just as her sphere of influence was wide, Iam reminded that it is really important to help and be helped. It is indeed part of African cultural heritage. To open the door for others to continue the journey.

Help others

In thinking about the gifts left for us, It dawned on me, these three things that she embodied can continue to guide me in my work and be my compass for the future. Iam fortunate to work with an amazing global team that helps me figure out how to embody these ideals on several levels.

No matter the industry… Make, fix, help others.

Transparency in The Extractives Industry: A role for Tech?

On a single day in March last year, three countries — Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique announced discoveries of oil and gas (joining Uganda as possible oil and gas producers.) This was momentous, and according to this article in The East African, there are several major infrastructure projects in the East African region that are unprecedented. With all these projects in the region the question of transparency and engagement with citizens affected comes up.
Why care about transparency in the extractives industry? First and foremost, the numbers. In Charmain Gooch’s TED talk she observed:

The Africa Progress Panel led by Kofi Annan has estimated that the DRC has lost around $1.3 billion as a result, almost twice its annual health and education budget combined.
It’s this flow of money away from the citizens of resource-rich countries that makes corruption so high-stakes. Gooch presents a slide showing how in 2011, natural resource exports outweighed aid flows by nearly 19-to-1 in Africa, Asia and Latin America. That’s a lot of potential hospitals, schools, universities and business start-ups that will never materialize, she says. “That money has simply been stolen away.”

With the recent discoveries of oil, gas and minerals in the East African region do we want that statement (and that incredible ration 19-to-1!) to be true in the coming years, or what can be done differently to ensure that there is transparency that leads to accountability in the extractives sector?

I would be remiss if i did not temper this statement with an observation from Chris Blattman on corruption. That it is an Anglo-American fetish and that Westerners care about corruption far out of proportion to its impact on poverty alleviation and economic growth. More importantly in the context of this post is this statement:

i would still argue, moreover, that if outsiders want to promote prosperity, or get out of a bad equilibria, far better to talk about term limits and strengthening political parties and parliaments. People in poor countries hate corruption too, and will eventually take care of it if they have the means to mobilize and exercise voice, and hold leaders accountable. Outsiders can’t do much about that, but if they speak loudly and consistently on the subject I think they strengthen the people’s hand.

The question I have, is what can the technology community do? The means to mobilize and exercise voice are freely available to us with tools like Ushahidi, SMSsync, FrontlineSMS and others.


What role can technology play?

Can platforms be used to report corruption close to the location of where it occurs? Are there secure ways BRCK + VPN = A secure blackbox for reporting corruption?

Create a feedback loop with affected community e.g Turkana people in Northern Kenya reporting via SMS about how their community is affected (positively/negatively) I am reminded of the recent announcement by Refugees United, working with Safaricom to launch a helpline for refugees to find lost family.

Could a helpline for affected community in mining areas be a way to not only provide a channel for participation, mobilize and give voice to the concerns of citizens?

Could Crowdmaps like the one tracking Ugandan oil industry prospectus be useful in keeping citizens informed of available information? Can these maps be simple clearing houses of information (the verification mechanism could be more difficult but with collaboration amongst transparency organizations, it is not a far fetched idea)

There is a great series on our blog about Anti-Corruption and transparency mapping: What can we learn and implement in our various countries?

Recent news about the signing of The Open Data Charter point to another avenue for action. What sorts of data sets should be available to help shed light on the extractives industry. Which companies are transparent about the agreements they have put in place with governments, counties, and community? If positive action is being made, are we applauding those companies and shaming the ones engaging in corrupt practices?

Charmain Gooch also noted…
“In a globalized world, corruption is truly a globalized business, and needs global solutions pushed by us citizens, right here.”

Lets have a look at Kenya (Home of Ushahidi, Mpesa, BRCK and Kenyan transparency Champion John Githongo). There are several local organizations working on issues in the extractives industry. Not necessarily the technology bit, but the gamut of concerns.Below are are a few resources, though it appears that there is more to learn and certainly more to do in this regard. If you have more resources and links, please do share in the comments and if you’d like to partner with us, do let us know how we can be of assistance to help answer the above questions.

1. Open Governance in the Extractive sector – Africa. This is in development phase. They would like to create a platform for dialogue and a framework for engagement. (Do let us know how we can help at Ushahidi)
2. Institute for Human Rights and Business – This appears to be trying to influence the decision makers at the UN level. Would be good to know more about how human rights violations are reported and if there is a role for tech and dynamic data collection to feed into the reports.
3. Kenya Mining Licences Map! This is great. Certainly applauding the work of Majala and Kenya’s Ministry of Mining for putting this together. Check it out, dig into the data.

Kenya Mining Licenses Map http://www.flexicadastre.com/kenya/ (Thank you Majala!)

Many thanks to Charles Wanguhu of AfriCog, Majala Mlagui of Thamani Gems and John Githongo for the inspiration.