Tag Archives: open government

Learning from the Tbilisi OGP Summit: Hope and ideas in an age of closing civic space

In the opening plenary session of the latest Open Government Partnership summit, one panellist offered his definition of open government: government of the people, by the people and for the people. That probably sounds familiar – the phrase is borrowed from a popular definition of democracy, most famously deployed by Abraham Lincoln.

Does this mean the definition of open government is essentially the same as the definition of democracy? In many ways it felt that way at the 5th OGP Summit last week in Tbilisi, Georgia. Continue reading

Fees, licences and lots of uncertainty: What’s in Tanzania’s new “online content” regulations?

I blog, mostly here. I post on social media, mostly Twitter. I help run a few websites. I read and watch a lot of news articles, blogs, social media posts, YouTube videos and more, and sometimes I post a comment.

As of last month, if you do any of these things in Tanzania, you may well be breaking the law. You could be fined, or even given a prison sentence, for doing something that has become for many a normal, everyday part of twenty-first century life.

Tanzania’s new Online Content Regulations (posted online by government, also available here) came into force last month. They are a game-changer for anyone who does anything online in Tanzania.

So what do the regulations say? What is allowed, and what is not? And what are the penalties for anyone who breaks the law? 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

Tanzania’s draft extractive industries laws say a lot about transparency. Highlights and initial thoughts

UPDATE 17/6/15: From the published parliamentary timetable, it appears that the government intends to pass these three bills under a certificate of urgency. The current parliamentary session has been extended until July 8, 2015, for this purpose. I have amended this post accordingly. I have also added some information relating to which of the bills are set to apply to Zanzibar, and which to Mainland Tanzania only.

Set to become a thing of the past? (Source: The Citizen, 7/11/14)

Set to become a thing of the past? (Source: The Citizen, 7/11/14)

A long-awaited series of bills governing the extractive industries sector in Tanzania has just been published: The Petroleum Bill, The Oil and Gas Revenue Management Bill, and The Tanzania Extractive Industries Transparency and Accountability Bill. All three are due to be presented to parliament shortly – just a few months before the elections.

I will leave it to others to examine the bills in detail – there is a lot here, over 200 pages in all. But what do these laws say about transparency in the sector? I have collated some highlights. Continue reading

Highlights of Remarks of Twaweza Executive Director, Aidan Eyakuze, at #OGPAfrica opening session

“The OGP is not a perfect movement or process, and it is not without its critics. For some it is a smokescreen that provides good PR for governments who have no real intention to reform. Such criticism cannot be dismissed out of hand.”

“I want to highlight what I see as the key element to the OGP’s success: partnership. It is a principle that is so deeply embedded in the OGP, it makes up one-third of its name. That is significant. Because it is as a partnership between government and civil society that the OGP will succeed, or fail.” Continue reading

Highlights of President Kikwete’s speech at the #OGPAfrica Meeting

JK OGPAfrica

President Kikwete speaking at OGP Africa meeting, 20/5/15

“Openness enables people to claim their rights, and reminds government leaders to deliver on their responsibilities”

“Civil society also needs to be transparent, so society can see and understand their work”

“We need to build understanding (Gov, CSOs) to serve citizens. We are building one house, lets not fight over bricks” Continue reading

Public Debate on Statistics and Cybercrime Acts, University of Dar es Salaam, 18/4/15

A public debate on Tanzania’s Statistics and Cybercrime Acts will be held at the University of Dar es Salaam on Saturday April 18th. It will take place in Nkrumah Hall, starting from 2pm, in Swahili. The event flyer is posted below.

The bills have attracted considerable criticism, so it should be a lively debate. The criticism includes two previous posts on this blog (here and here), two articles in the Washington Post (here and here), an article in the Citizen today by Omar Mohammed, and much more. My colleagues and I at Twaweza have also put together a more detailed analysis of the Statistics Act.  Continue reading

Four bills later: is blogging with statistics in Tanzania now only for adrenalin junkies?

Nipashe, 25/3/15 - "Media Bills" under tight security

Nipashe, 25/3/15 – “Media Bills” under tight security

By Aidan Eyakuze and Ben Taylor *

At first we were excited. Tanzanian media and freedom of information advocates had been waiting for years for the Access to Information (ATI) and Media Services Bill, and the timetable for the latest parliamentary session included both. Were things finally moving?

The timetable also had bills on Statistics and Cybercrime. Was President Kikwete trying to push through a series of new laws before his time in office comes to an end later this year? He has played a leading role on the global stage on these issues, particularly through the Open Government Partnership (OGP), so perhaps this was an attempt to enshrine open government as his legacy.

Then we were concerned. Why were the ATI and Media Bills not available on the bunge website? Why were they being rushed through under certificates of urgency, severely limiting opportunities for consultation and debate? Continue reading

Access to Information bill to be fast-tracked through Tanzanian parliament

Tz map flag FOI

UPDATE, 28/3/15:

Following concerted lobbying by a coalition of media and civil society organisations, (including my employers, Twaweza), the government has dropped plans to fast-track the Access to Information and Media Services Bills. The bills may yet be presented to parliament in the current session for first reading, but the Attorney General, George Masaju, has promised that stakeholders will be given time to read and comment on the bill. 


 

Tanzania’s long-awaited Access to Information bill – promised by President Kikwete 18 months ago and included the current Open Government action plan – may be about to become a reality, though in far from ideal circumstances.

The Tanzanian government announced late last week that six bills*, including the Access to Information Bill, will be rushed through parliament over the next two weeks, under a “certificate of urgency” (hati ya dharura). This allows all three stages of the bill to be conducted in a single session: introducing the bill to the house (first reading), debate (second reading) and a vote (third reading).  Continue reading

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