Code for Africa Spotlight at the Code for All Summit

Code for Africa is a grassroots driven and demand focused movement that seeks to build active citizenry by creating new avenues for public engagement to help shape better public governance and public services.

Code for Africa has four fully formed national chapters in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa and are exploring additional initiatives in Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Uganda.

Code for Africa is led by a Justin Arenstein and is based in the Nairobi Garage. Here’s Justin’s presentation at the Code for All Summit where he talks about their work.

Code for Africa’s efforts are citizen focused, demand driven, and try to ensure that they judge their work by outcomes and not just output. Code for Africa metric for success is meaningful impact that creates lasting change as well as being sustainable and reproducible.

Code for Africa is also partner driven and believes that people need to understand the local context with strong community partners.

One example is working with government agencies in Kenya to help hospitals share what blood they have in storage for use during operations. Previously, the hospitals had been using paper records that were not organized.

Code for Africa has been operating four about four years and has produced over 90 projects ranging from media, data, and community engagement.

GoToVote

One such project was GoToVote. The app uses SMS text messaging to help people confirm that they are registered to vote and find registration centers closest to them if they are not eligible. The app also lets users send peace messages during heated political election times for free using the web.

The app has been scaled for use in five other countries including Malawi where it’s been adopted as the official solution to confirming voter registration. They identified over 35,000 ‘ghost’ voters using the tool – which only cost about $10,000 to build.

Dodgy Doctors

Another SMS driven app that the team in Kenya put together is Dodgy Doctors. The app lets people text a doctor’s name to see if they are registered and carry the appropriate malpractice insurance. The app will also tell the user which hospitals their National Hospital Insurance Fund will cover. The app is part of the media partners website and that helps with the partner’s revenue – which helps support the site long term.

Grano

The Grano Project  is an open source tool for journalists and researchers who want to track networks of political or economic interest. It helps understand the most relevant relationships in investigations, and to merge data from different sources. It helps residents shine a light on government procurements so that they can expose corruption. For example, the Nigeria government states that the government loses $18 billion a year in tax avoidance because it’s difficult to track who owns the oil rigs off the coast.

To find out more information about Code for Africa, you can visit their website at http://www.codeforafrica.org/ or follow them on Twitter @code4Africa.