Collaboration is key for the success of civic tech in Africa.
Interview with Esohe Osinoiki, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager BudgIT & Tracka Nigeria
What do your organisations, BudgIT and Tracka do in Nigeria?
BudgIT is a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change. We do this by way of simplifying and making the budget accessible to everyone irrespective of their literacy level. Capital projects (captured in budget documents) give a sense of belonging to the citizens given the fact that those projects if executed, bring about development in the country. However, the constant recurrence of project abandonment and/or fake execution gave birth to a tool known as Tracka.
Launched in 2014 by BudgIT, Tracka is a social platform of/for active citizens who are interested in monitoring public projects in their communities thus enhancing budget performance across the country. This platform, layered on open data and integrated with existing social media tools, galvanises people of common interests together to share photos, videos, documents and also post comments on existing projects.
How does your organisation/platforms work?
Using grassroots monitors and also partners for projects located across the federation, this approach explores the use of technology to track budgets and also report to the responsible authorities from the executive and legislature. We use social media to amplify discussions on projects. Thanks to the internet, mobile web, apps, and SMS, citizens now have a focal point of tracking public projects and report on-the-ground performance to institutions. This allows them to reach out to the exact institution that is responsible for the project. Citizens are able to provide feedback on the platform while our tracking officers (in all states where Tracka currently operates), verify those comments and reach out to public institutions for necessary action.
The project tracking officers are tasked with the role of tracking all the projects listed within their state of operation; they also organize town hall meetings with the community members in order to enlighten them about projects contained within their constituencies. These Tracka officers visit different constituencies in order to attend the town hall meetings, listen to the agitation of the community members and assist them in communicating with their constituency representative(s) at all levels in order to get these projects completed.
What advice would you give to other African civic tech startups/projects? Or, put another way, what do you wish you had known when you started?
Collaboration is key. The work is bigger than all of us and we can only achieve our goals when we all work together. Civil Society Organisations in Africa need to do more as a team.