Tag Archives: open government

Aid traceability is a worthy goal, but it will take some time

Cross posted from the blog of the UK-based aid transparency campaign organisation, Publish What You Fund. The original was published on October 20th. 


 


“We will require organisations receiving and managing funds from DFID to release open data on how this money is spent in a common, standard, reusable format. They will need to require this of sub-contractors and sub-agencies – right through the aid chain.”

That was Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development, speaking in 2012 on DFID’s commitment to transparency.

The UK’s latest Open Government Partnership Action Plan put a date on this, committing DFID to “a requirement of IATI publication by the end of 2015 for all implementing partners.”

The goal is traceability: for British taxpayers to be able to track the flow of funds from DFID in London to a handpump in rural Tanzania or a primary school in Nepal, even where the funds pass through several different organisations on the way. The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and DFID’s Development Tracker website are the means to achieve this. Continue reading

Apparently everyone wants transparency in Tanzania’s gas contracts. Lets get them online

contract transparencyLast weekend, Statoil management finally broke their silence on their leaked contract for gas production in Tanzania. In an interview with The Citizen newspaper, Statoil’s Country Manager for Tanzania, Øystein Michelsen, spoke at length, including on the subject of contract transparency:

“Statoil respects the position of any government in the countries where we operate with regards to whether the contracts are made publicly available or not. In a number of countries where we operate the contracts are publicly available and Statoil does comply with that position. In Tanzania, the contracts are confidential and for that matter, Statoil also complies with that position.” [my emphasis]

“In 2012, Transparency ranked Statoil as the most transparent company among the world 105 largest publicly traded companies [see here]. We will continue to promote transparency, but we will also respect contract terms and the obligations we have towards our partners.”

The Citizen used this as their headline: “Investors accuse govt of keeping contracts secret.” And the point is clear: Statoil has no objection to contract transparency. Continue reading

Chart of the week #23: Popular support for open government?

Do people in Tanzania, and elsewhere, support the idea of open government? It’s not a question that is asked very often, but a new dataset collected by the World Bank and others seeks to rectify this.

They asked people in 62 countries – including six in Africa – a short set of questions. Here’s some of the data for Africa – choose a question from the list on the right:

The data was collect through an internet survey, which means the data is dominated by responses from wealthier folks in urban areas. But with that caveat in mind, and focusing on Tanzania in particular, what can we see?

Well, a majority said they thought the government was already open (51%) or somewhat open (29%), but nevertheless, a solid three quarters of respondents expressed support for open government. This doesn’t vary much with the different questions asked:

  • 77% would like government to be more open
  • 76% would trust government more if it were more open
  • 75% would like more information about government
  • 78% said citizens should have a say in government spending and contracting
  • 75% said they thought government would be more effective if it was more open

What have you missed since June?

If you’ve signed up to receive this blog by email (as you can do using the link on the right), then you may well have missed several posts over the past few months. I shifted to a new web-host at the beginning of June, in order to be able to show more interesting charts – particularly interactive charts like these. I tried to bring the site’s email subscribers along with me, but for some reason that I don’t understand, this didn’t happen – sorry!

Having discovered the problem earlier this week, I’ve now corrected this mistake, so you should be receiving the emails again.

And in case you missed something interesting, here are some highlights from the last three months on mtega.com. It’s been a busy few months.  Continue reading

President Kikwete on avoiding the resource curse, and transparency in company registrations

President Kikwete spoke in Washington earlier this week, as part of the US-Africa Leadership Summit. The clip below comes from the Civil Society Forum Global Town Hall event, where he shared a platform with US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and Vice President, Joe Biden, and the Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama, among others.

The questioner asks first what Tanzania is doing to avoid the resource curse, and second what message the President has for SADC leaders about Robert Mugabe and the situation in Zimbabwe. President Kikwete neatly avoids the second, but gives a lengthy response to the first. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) gets a mention, though there is nothing on transparency in extractives’ contracts.

I did note, however, an interesting remark on transparency in company ownership registers:

“We are now working on transparency with regard top who owns what – who is who in terms of ownership of the companies that are operating in the country.”

The full session is also available on YouTube, as is another session at the same event, featuring my boss, Rakesh Rajani of Twaweza, in a discussion about the Open Government Partnership in Africa.

A plan with (some) potential

Tanzania’s latest Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan is now available, on the much-improved opengov.go.tz website. The plan covers the two years from July 2014 to June 2016.

The first action plan was a disappointment, with very few of the 25 commitments implemented. This time there are only five, but they are focussed and (mostly) ambitious:

1. Freedom of Information: To enact an FOI by December 2014.
2. Open Data: To establish an open data system by December 2016.
3. Budget Transparency: To make budget data (eight key budget reports), audit committee reports and tax exemptions publicly available by December 2014.
4. Land Transparency: Make land use plan, ownership and demarcated areas for large scale land deals accessible online for public use by June 2016.
5. Extractive Industries Transparency: Tanzania to fulfill its EITI commitments by June, 2015

The good points? Continue reading

Chart(s) of the week #7: There’s more to the constitution than the union question

Some charts from Twaweza’s latest Sauti za Wananchi brief this week, asking Tanzanians about their views of the second draft new constitution – the one that’s supposed to be under discussion by the Constituent Assembly in Dodoma at the moment.

This survey was conducted in parallel with a similar survey on Zanzibar, Wasemavyo Wazanzibari, run by the International Law and Policy institute (ILPI).

The survey did ask about the hot topic of the moment – the Union between Tanzania mainland / Tanganyika and Zanzibar – but I will focus instead on some of the other issues raised in the draft. Because we should not forget that these are also important.  Continue reading