“Access to information is an essential tool for development for any country and its practical value to communities would be empowering communities, particularly in rural areas, with detailed information about various projects from conception of the ideas up to completion. The communities would then be empowered to ensure transparency in the processing of projects, and accountability for public funds.”
The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (also known as the Banjul Charter) Article 9 clearly states:
- Every individual shall have the right to receive information.
- Every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.
There have been many calls from the Zambian people for government to enact the Access to Information Bill, because people understand the value of having the right kind of information.The literature is not visible and easily accessible to potential users (scientific and technological communities and policy makers) both in and outside Africa.
In light of this gap, Futex Solutions a Zambian technology company has taken a modern approach to this issue. With the assistance of technology, 6 young Innovators come together and created a platform on which ordinary Zambian citizens can have to access relevant government documentation, which they are entitled to. The platform named eZeLibrary is now accessible on both website and mobile platforms.
The platform houses Public government documents such as The Draft Constitution, Women ‘s Rights App and The Auditor Generals Report. “This is not only a platform to access in formation on its also a place where individuals are able to engage with each other and share what they find through different social media platforms available.” said Gilbert Mwinga, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Futex Solutions.
The launch attracted a variety of individuals from a broad spectrum of society. Mostly technology enthusiasts and Computer Programers. With the aid of an Animated pitch, Gilbert shared the goals and aspirations of Futex with the eager crowd. A Hivos and Free Press funded project, the platform aims to encourage people to actively take part in the modification and creation of government documents which affect all Citizens within Zambia. “People know that they have rights, but most don’t know what those rights are and how they work in their favor” said Ethel Mbewe Futex Project Coordinator.
The amazement on the crowds face was astonishing as the attendees realized the power of what they had seen and the direct implications of this access to information. Francis Lombe and Brian Mukula showed the insistent audience the technology side of their platform.
Their presentations highlighted some great features available to users of the platform, including a fairly easy and user friendly design which makes for easy navigation on either the web application or the mobile app. Future plans for eZe Library include:
- Adding a comment section to the platform, to allow user feedback.
- Adding a translation feature allowing for translation in any of the 9 major Zambian language.
- Improving the application to facilitate access for people with disabilities(Audio and Sign language).
- Addition of more documents that have vital information i.e (Statistics, Policies, Reports).
Representatives from the legal profession where on hand to share their views on the importance of having access to information, as it not only affects ordinary citizens but their colleagues as well.” The law should be accessible to all, because everyone has a say in issues that affect them” said Lawyer Nandu Lumamba.
It is not the fact that these innovators created such a wonderful solution that should leave you in awe, its the fact that they had an environment that allowed them to develop their skills and enabled them to apply them in a way in which society can benefit, namely BongoHive. BongoHive Is Zambia first Technology incubator and we have seen it produce groundbreaking technological solutions and businesses in the past 4 years it has been in operation. If one hub can induce this much change in such a short period of time, imagine what 9 in each province can do?
Whatever problem or challenge you’re faced with always remember, that is where opportunity lies. I hope this article inspires you to seek solutions to some of the challenges you face. Let us know what you think of the Application by writing in our comment section.