SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. MWAI KIBAKI, C.G.H., M.P., PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE LAUNCH OF THE KENYA GOVERNMENT OPEN DATA WEB PORTAL, KENYATTA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, NAIROBI, 8TH JULY, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to join you all for the launch of the Kenya Open Government Data Portal. The launch of this portal is an important step forward towards ensuring that Government information is readily available to all Kenyans.

Indeed, the website we are launching will for the first time, make large quantities of Government data available to the public in a digital electronic format. This includes information ranging from the recent census to Government budgets and expenditures, to schools and health facilities. Millions of Kenyans and interested persons around the world will now be able to access data that will facilitate informed decision making in a wide variety of areas.

The Government data website will be particularly useful to policy makers and business persons who require timely and accurate information in formulating policies and making business decisions.

It will also be helpful to scholars and students undertaking research work in various areas of the public sector. The launch of this website is, therefore, welcome. I commend all those who have been involved in its development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The information and telecommunications sector has continued to open new opportunities in our country. Kenyans are using ICT in innovative ways that are attracting global attention, among them mobile money transfer.

Indeed, the ICT sector has made major contributions to our economy with an annual growth rate of 20 per cent in the last few years. I urge Kenyans to increasingly embrace the use of ICT in all possible sectors of our national endeavor, in order for us to reap the full range of benefits it offers.

I also call upon Kenyans to make use of this Government Data Portal to enhance accountability and improve governance in our country. Indeed, data is the foundation of improving governance and accountability. This is because reliable and timely data is the basis for determining whether the Government is delivering services effectively and accountably. Availability of data will, therefore, enable citizens to keep track of service delivery. This way the people can hold Government service providers accountable for the use of public resources.

At this particular juncture in our national history, this website will also facilitate the successful implementation of our new Constitution. As Kenyans are aware, the implementation of the Constitution is gathering momentum. So far, important legislation has been passed, new institutions have been established and new leadership appointed to lead our judiciary.

We are also embarking on a historic and ambitious decentralization, which will strive to bring public services closer to the people. Through this website every county will have quick access to information.

As I pointed out during a recent symposium on implementation of the constitution, we must move resolutely to enshrine constitutional principles on governance, ethics and integrity, social cohesion and equity, as well as justice into Kenya ’s laws and institutions.

To achieve these objectives, a lot of information sharing will be required. I am optimistic that this website will come in handy and make information readily available, in a timely and accurate manner. It will also help keep the public up to date and equipped to make informed contribution to the constitution implementation process.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In line with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, and its guarantees on citizen access to information, today marks an important step in our aspirations to open up the Government, and make it more responsive, efficient and accountable.

My Government recognizes that information is power and an informed citizenry is an empowered citizenry. For this reason, we will continue to facilitate free flow of and access to information as a critical requirement for the creation of an open society. In this regard, we will enact necessary legislation, in line with the Constitution, to ensure continued public access to government data and information.

Before I conclude my remarks, I wish to state that due to the amount of data that will be available on this website, internet connection speeds are of the essence. In this regard, I wish to point out that Kenyans are not yet enjoying the full benefits of fibre optic connections that were meant to deal with this issue.

The Ministry of Information and Communications should therefore move with haste and hold consultations with stakeholders, so that Kenyans have access to more affordable and speedy internet connections.

With these remarks, it is now my pleasure to launch the Government Data Website.

Thank you and God bless you all.