I’m back in the Tanzania, Dar es Salaam specifically, and within hours of my arrival I had the good fortune of learning about an event at KINU, Dar es Salaam's ICT innovation hub.
On Saturday November 3, 2012 The Hon. January Makamba, a Tanzanian MP, introduced a mobile and web based anti-corruption platform called mRushwa. The platform, mRushwa, was developed by the Bumbuli Development Corporation, an organization Mr. Makamba started to advance development of within his constituency in Bumbuli, as well as with the help of team from Iconnica, and in partnership with the Airtel and Vodacom mobile telecom providers.
Essentially mRushwa allows mobile cell phone users to dial a number and through an USSD dialog system (akin to SMS texting) they are able to submit details regarding instances of corruption they have observed. There will also be a website that will allow users to submit information as well.
The aim of mRushwa is to provide people with an easy way to report corruption, for a recent report from Transparency International stated that over 93% of instances of corruption are never reported. The Hon. January Makamba asserted that much of this underreporting is due to the difficulty for average people to report corruption, thus contributing to further unproductive cynicism.
The submitted corruption data will be reported on the mRushwa website that will be curated by a moderator that reviews each submission. The data on the location and types of corruption reported from all over Tanzania would serve as an invaluable tool to policy makers and as an investigative aid to law enforcement, while also keeping the submitter safe from reprisals.
In fact, the issue of the threat of reprisals due to data insecurity was a concern that was frequently voiced by many audience members. The developers insisted that the security of the system is a top priority and pointed out that such issues are very solvable, as platforms such as mPesa have demonstrated.
The deployment of mRushwa has the possibility of radically improving transparency and governance in Tanzania. It is a great example of ICT being used to further development and social goods, especially since it is being developed by Tanzanians and with Tanzanian political leadership.
This was a long post, but I didn’t want to miss anything…