Choosing technology in Kenyan and South African transparency and accountability initiatives

Choosing technology in Kenyan and South African transparency and accountability initiatives

An 18-month, multi-country research study

I worked with the civic arts organization Pawa254 and the Network Society initiative at the University of the Witwatersrand on a research project supported by Making All Voices Count.

We wanted to draw out common problems and solutions that would help organizations, funders and support organizations to plan activities in future, and also to test whether we could create something that would help organizations select the right tools themselves.


This report looks at the processes through which organisations in South Africa and Kenya choose technology tools to use in transparency and accountability initiatives - and how this influences the effectiveness of their work.

The research provides lessons for other organisations and practitioners working in technology for transparency and accountability initiatives.

It also helps organisations to select appropriate digital tools, and to provide an overview of successes and failures that boil down to some basic lessons we all can learn from.

📝 Download the report (PDF)

📱 Six basic rules of thumb for organisations using tech to increase transparency

  1. Map out what you need to know: At the very least include research on the issue you want to tool to address, the needs to the people you hope will use it and the digital tool options already available.
  2. Think twice before you build: Look for existing tools that can do the job; building new technologies from scratch is complex and risky.
  3. Get a second opinion: Someone else has probably tried a similar approach before you.
  4. Always take it for a test drive: Trial the tool; it highlights problems and raises key questions early on
  5. Plan for failure: Don’t expect to get it right first time; budget time and money to make adjustments.
  6. Stop and reflect on what you’re doing: Keep thinking about what is working, and what isn’t.