February 23, 2015 by Veronica Crețu
Knowledge is increasingly short-lived. If you do not make use of your knowledge then it rapidly loses its value. That is why sharing knowledge is a synergistic process: and both, the one who shares and the one who learns from this process get a lot out of this experience.
A week ago, Open Government Institute was the host of a study visit/tour for a delegation from Tajikistan (President’s Office) – the purpose of the study being sharing the knowledge Moldova has gained throughout the past years on issues related to Open Data, Open Government, E-Government based on the reforms initiated by the Government, and initiatives which Moldova joined along with other countries during the past years among which Open Government Partnership (OGP), Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA), others.
As the Government of Tajikistan aims to develop a more transparent, accountable, and cost-effective government through the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) it looks at Moldova’s experiences given that:
- Moldovan experiences are still very young/’fresh’ and there is still a good institutional memory that can be transferred to those interested to learn from it;
- Moldova uses the most modern technologies and approaches;
- There are some common problems/similarities Moldova shares with Tajikistan which are crucial in the learning process, which is a little bit different if we take countries like Estonia, Singapore, others.
Additionally, Moldova is considered to be one of the champion countries in the region which managed in a very short time to implement a series of ambitious projects and initiatives related to the issues mentioned above: e-government, open government, open data.
Moldova had a series of success factors which positioned the country where it stands today and I am referring to:
- strong political will/commitment to endorse an ambitious/an unknown and yet, promising agenda;
- it managed to capitalize on the experience and knowledge existent already globally and to explore it for its own benefits, through strategic partnerships/connections/influential people at the global level;
- it managed to get the funds it needed in order to start the implementation of e-Governance transformation agenda (i.e. World Bank funds, State Funds, PPPs, other donors).
So, from the at least, above success factors, Moldova is still attractive to many countries in the region, particularly those from the former Soviet block and the experiences are worth sharing.
The visit started with an Introductory Workshop organized by the Open Government Institute experts, that of focusing on what is behind ‘open government’, why should we care, what is the value of open government for citizens, what does Open Government Partnership provide in this regards, challenges of open government, etc. The Workshop also provided members of the delegation to hear the story of governance e-transformation initiative – an ambitious agenda implemented by the e-Government Center in Moldova.Next visit was with the e-Government Center – which is the core driver of innovations, e-transformations, e-services, e-opportunities and e-government in the country. The meeting was very productive and allowed members of the delegation to understand the key challenges, critical factors, success stories already registered, ways public services work online, several technical details, legal aspects, others.
Second day continued with Open Data Coordinators who shared from their practical experience in implementing the Open Data Agenda, which is just one small core component but a very important one, of the entire e-governance transformation agenda. Delegates shared and asked questions, and the value of the meeting was in the fact that Open Data Coordinators present during the meeting among whom from Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, National Bureau of Statistics are considered to be among the champion coordinators.
As the visit continued, members of the delegation met representatives of the Ministry of ICT, and had the opportunity to get more insights into the Public Sector Information Re-use legal framework, its practical implementation methods, challenges. Additionally, the meeting touched upon the Universal Service Fund, Digital Moldova 2020, and other strategic priorities which the Government is working on in 2015.
As one talks about Open Data, public sector information re-use, we can not avoid speaking about Personal Data Protection, which is why members of the delegation met the young and competent team of the National Center for Personal Data Protection. The meeting addressed several aspects of personal data: legal aspects, practical examples/cases, Conventions Ratified by Moldova and others. For Tajikistan, personal data protection will become an issue once open data will start to be released.
An indispensable part of the Open Data agenda are the users and developers, those who really put data into action. During the study tour, members of the delegation had the opportunity to interact with developers of www.alerte.md from MediaPoint- and it turned out that Tajikistan has a similar application for Dushanbe city which has been institutionalized by the municipal authorities. Additionally, a valuable meeting was held with Trimetrica who have illustrated ways geo-spatial data is being put into maps and used for different purposes including research, agriculture, local development, etc. Expert Grup, is another institution that started using open data from the educational sector and build school report cards based on the data available. In long run, this process should start continuing to influence and improve the quality of the educational outcomes.
Meeting with the World Bank in Moldova has been another valuable experience given that it has exposed members of the delegation to those who have initiated the entire governance e-transformation agenda, know the story from the inside, know what generated the story, what have been the critical elements of it, what to look at, what to reflect more on …
National Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications and Information Technology provided members of the delegation with updates on the regulatory processes, the changes that are occurring in the telecommunications sector at the moment, legal framework, others.
Of course, we could not miss a meeting with representatives of the mobile operators – those who are witnessing on a daily basis the increase or decrease or tendencies among the users in terms of the e-services, platforms, what’s popular among them and what is not. Thus, Moldcell provided its perspective on the situation and on the ways it engages with e-Government Center and other players in this ambitious e-agenda.
All in all, a week of learning and sharing does not stop here …
Open Government Institute will be in Dushanbe, early March, to conduct some demo-workshops and capacity building activities for representatives of the public sector on issues related to open government, e-government, open data. So, for Tajikistan is to be continued …
And indeed, in order to bring the vision that governments should become more transparent, more accountable and more responsive to their citizens one needs to be exposed to those who are already doing it in practice. And not necessarily in the ideal or perfect way, no … shift in norms and culture to ensure genuine dialogue and collaboration between governments and civil society does not happen overnight, but at least countries like Moldova have tried and know what is behind this shift. Sharing with the others is an additional value in itself, and only through learning and dialogue we can achieve in both OGP and non-OGP member countries more aspirations towards citizen-engagement, transparency, participation; it is more likely that there will be more reformers in government identified and encouraged to continue the change … improving the lives of thousands and millions across the globe!!!
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