Kenya puts government spending on Web to cut graft


Kenya has become the first African country to publish detailed government spending plans on a Web portal in an effort to fight pervasive corruption.

East Africa’s leading economy, which aims to be a hub for information and technology innovation, expects the data to enhance transparency for citizens, lenders and investors.
“It will be particularly useful to policy makers and business persons who require timely and accurate information in formulating policies and making business decisions,” President Mwai Kibaki said, launching the portal
“I also call upon Kenyans to use this government portal to enhance accountability and improve governance in our country. Reliable and timely data is the basis for determining whether government is delivering services effectively and accountably.”

He said the country’s information, communication and technology sector was growing at about 20 percent per year.

The portal will highlight information ranging from the national census to government budgets. Graphs and maps will show, for example, how much is allocated to schools and health facilities around the country, allowing for easy analysis and comparisons between regions.

Such information was not available before in a one-stop-shop. In a process mired in red tape, those seeking it had to get approval from bureaucrats or buy it from the government printer.
“This is the first open government portal in Africa, making Kenya one of the world’s leading exemplars of open data … better enhancing transparency and accountability in government operations,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank country director for Kenya.

The data is drawn from key sectors including planning, education, health, finance and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics on population.

Kenya slipped down the rankings of Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index last year, falling to 154 out of 178 countries. The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) has said graft and misuse of government funds swallow up to 40 percent of gross domestic product.

Several ministries have been involved in corruption scandals, with some ministers facing graft charges, but none have been convicted so far.