Category Archives: development

Dear Chambi: don’t stop blogging, your voice is needed

from Nipashe, Dec 1, 2016

Dear Chambi,

I hope you don’t mind me writing you a public letter like this. But it feels like the most appropriate way of saying what I want to say.

Because your decision to stop blogging has left me dejected. While I don’t always agree with what you say (I usually do), yours has been one of very few voices asking important but difficult questions. Those who find #UhuruWaKujieleza (freedom of speech) to be an annoyance (or, if we are charitable, an unaffordable luxury,) will be celebrating. We are all worse off as a result. Continue reading

dot-com, dot-org or dot-tz? What does Tanzanian law say?

Maxence Melo charge sheet #3

The recent arrest of digital media entrepreneur Maxence Melo of JamiiForums.com raises serious questions and concerns about freedom of speech, but one relatively minor aspect of the case has potentially serious implications for a lot of people.

Among the charges laid against Melo was “management of a domain not registered in Tanzania.” This took observers by surprise; even many close followers of media and technology issues in Tanzania were unaware that it is now apparently illegal to operate a website that does not use a dot-tz domain. The relevant laws have actually been in place since 2011, however, and the government posted a notice in the press last year calling on people to adhere to it.

But since it has now come to wider attention, it’s worth asking some questions. In particular, what exactly does the law say? And more pertinently, should you be concerned if you manage a domain other than something.tz? *

Continue reading

People-powered maps to help girls escape FGM – how to get involved

Filling in the blank spaces …

Can you help girls in Tanzania escape Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) without ever leaving the comfort of your home? Well, there’s a project that some friends of mine are supporting that claims to do exactly that.

If you’re in London next Monday (January 16), there will be a seminar at 5pm at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), where this and two related mapping projects in Tanzania will be the topic. But whether or not you can make it to the seminar, the beauty of this project is that you can contribute from almost anywhere.  Continue reading

Two opportunities for data journalists in Tanzania: a prize and funding

Data journalism is a growing field in Tanzania, but one that hasn’t yet taken off very strongly. But here are two opportunities for data journalists in Tanzania that could help get things moving. Both look very interesting.

ejatData journalism prize in EJAT

For the first time, a data journalism category has been included in the Excellence in Journalism Awards Tanzania (EJAT), run by the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT)*. The MCT website seems to be a little behind on the announcement, but it was issued a few days ago and the site does at least have the entry forms available.

So if you are a  journalist or blogger who has done interesting work with data (on any topic) in the Tanzanian media during 2016, now is your chance.

The deadline for entries is January 31st, 2017.

innovateAFRICA: potential funding

innovate Africa logoAnd if you’re looking for more than just recognition, there’s up to USD $100,000 available for media projects working with data. The innovateAfrica initiative, run by Code for Africa, is looking for “disruptive digital ideas to improve the way that news is collected and disseminated:”

“By digital ideas, we mean tools or strategies that use the Internet, mobile platforms, data-driven journalism, computer-assisted reporting, digitally augmented reality or virtual reality, camera drones or the Internet of Things (sensors), and other electronic means to improve the relevance and impact of news media.”

The deadline for initial applications is December 1st, so you will need to get a move on, but the first stage in the application process is very straightforward, with just 8 simple questions to be answered. Full details, terms and conditions, etc., and the online application form are available here.


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* Twaweza, for whom I work, has encouraged MCT to include this new award in EJAT.

Corruption and freedom – is there a correlation?

corruption and freedomThe charts I have shared recently – last week on the Corruption Perceptions Index and this week on the Freedom House Freedom Rating – got me thinking: is there a correlation between corruption and freedom?

The chart below looks at data for each country in Africa that appears on both the Corruption Perceptions Index and the Freedom House Ratings. Each circle represents a country. Those further to the left are the countries with more perceived corruption, those to the right have less. The countries that are higher up on the chart have more freedom, lower have less freedom. Continue reading

Has Tanzania passed “peak freedom”? Or is the latest Freedom House rating a temporary blip?

Tz Freedom House 2015Tanzania’s freedom rating has dropped. The latest annual report by Freedom House on political rights and civil liberties around the world showed that Tanzania’s score dropped from 3.0 to 3.5. It’s may sound like only a small change, but the scale of these ratings only goes from 1 to 7. (1 is the most free, 7 is the least.) More significantly, it is the first time Tanzania’s rating has dropped for over 20 years.

This chart shows Tanzania’s rating for each year since 1994, just as multi-party democracy was being reintroduced. Continue reading

Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2015

CPI2015The latest Corruption Perceptions Index was released last week by Transparency International.

The index gives each country a score between 1 and 100, representing the level of perceived corruption. (It is understandably difficult to measure actual corruption as it usually happens in secret). A higher score is better – ie. it means the level of perceived corruption is lower.

So what does it tell us about countries in East Africa? Continue reading