Open data

the case of Kenya

IGF 2013 - Bali

Internet rights are Human rights (IRHR)

What is open data

The Open Definition sets out principles

that define “openness” in relation to data and content.

“A piece of data or content is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike.”

The open definition

The full Open Definition gives precise details:

  • Availability and Access
  • Reuse and Redistribution
  • Universal Participation
  • Interoperability

Source: Open Data Handbook

Open Data Initiative

About Kenya Open Data

Open Data Initiative has provided the first freedom of
information portal in sub-Saharan Africa

Open data portal's goal

“to make core government development, demographic, statistical and expenditure data available in a useful digital format for researchers, policymakers, ICT developers and the general public.”

The platform

  • launched in 2011
  • By mid-2012, more than 400 datasets
  •  Initially providing access online to :
    • data from the 2009 national census
    • data on public expenditure
    • data on public services 


some government departments are
resisting online publication of information.

The permanent secretary at the ministry
responsible for the portal has said:

“We are not getting data from organisations because they claim to own it, even those that have collected the data using taxpayers’ money.”


Available information on the platform

did not include material concerned
with internal policy discussions

inside government


Princeton University  - Disseminating the power of information, Kenya Open Data Initiative 2011 -2012

Daily Nation - Kenya open data initiative has hit a dead end, says PS

AllAfrica, The Star - Kenya: Journalists Can Save Kenya Open Data Initiative

Questions for discussion

  1. Is open data sufficient for open government, or should online access be made available to a much wider range of public information?
  2. What should human rights organisations do to stimulate freedom of information, and how can they use it most effectively in their work?
  3. What limits should apply to freedom of information, in order to protect other rights such as privacy and security?


by hvale @froatosebe

Group discussions and case studies: Freedom of
expression and freedom of information
Developed by: David Souter