Francesca Washtell reports on BudgIT, a mobile app and website, which is enhancing the way Nigerians can hold their government to account.
In recent years sub-Saharan Africa has gained praise and international attention for its innovative and expanding technology scene. Much of the praise has so far been directed to Kenya, home of the revolutionary mobile banking app M-Pesa, leading it to be dubbed the ‘Silicon Savannah’. However, there are a number of thriving start-up bases across the continent which are increasingly offering home-grown tech solutions to some of Africa’s biggest social and political challenges.
In Nigeria, one of the most successful examples of technology combining with social change can be found in the form of a mobile app and website called BudgIT. Established in March 2011 by Nigeria’s Co-Creation Hub (a non-profit incubator for creative, socially-minded tech ventures), it launched in September of the same year with the simple yet profound aim to make Nigerian government budgets more accessible, understandable and transparent.
Although at present the Nigerian budget is published annually, it usually only emerges in non-readable PDF formats that have little hope of trickling down and informing ordinary citizens about government spending. With the big data the budget generated frequently being lost through poor presentation, and the majority of Nigerians losing out on holding the government to account and tracking its spending, the need arose for a more inclusive way to publish the data and enhance citizen participation. Continue reading