The recent developments in information technology have the potential to allow innovators to foster new approaches in the creation of better democracies. Open Government is one of the approaches that combines technology with politics with the emphasis on allowing private citizens and business to experiment. Together with Open Data, this has introduced a new phase in government transparency, accountability, and citizen participation, particularly in developing countries. Both Open Government and Open Data are beginning to emerge on the international agenda; especially after the launch of the OGP). In fact this way of opening up government in developing countries will lead to accountability in running the country.
The concept of Open Government is different from other approaches, such as “e-government”, in which Open Government is not only about making traditional government services available electronically, but it is more similar to “Government 2.0”; that aims to encourage people to become part of government by using the internet and software to provide a more sophisticated tool for democracy. It is also about opening up data so that private citizens themselves can develop new approaches and methodologies, as well as creating an enabling environment for deeper technology-driven transformation.
Open Government and its main ingredient Open Government Data isa revolution in politics, or the new derived version of politics known as “Politics 2.0”, given the fact that these technologies will undoubtedly change the way countries are driven by their leaders. Chen, in his paper Al, e-government, and politics 2.0, expands on these two concepts in detail as well highlighting the potential technologies that could be used for better e-democracy and e-government service delivery.
The effect of Open Government will be visible in both developing and developed countries. However, currently, there is only a limited number of government- driven Open Government Data initiatives in Africa and the Arab world. For example Tunisia appears to be the most active country in the Arab region, while Kenya is taking an increased number of steps in using
these innovations, being one of the big open data providers. However, these applications of Open Government are still at a very generic level, particularly in relation to Open Data principles and policies. Taking a closer look at these two applications in the developing countries, we can notice two main challenges which might be missing in order to achieve real impact at the citizen’s level: One is the access to data and the other is the relative importance of datasets. A number of initiatives have emerged from the reports about Open Government Data and its best approaches or the deployment of OD principles etc. Examples of some initiatives in developing countries include Ghana Open Government and Open Government Tunisia . However, the application of Open Government in developing countries still involves some specific issues and some might be risky in engaging governments in developing countries in the Open Government Partnership/Open Government Data where the international community is involved. A notable risk in these countries is that, due to the political system, it is harder for these initiatives to have an impact on all the inhabitants of the country, and not just the elite, as is usually the case. Therefore, the question is: how does one know whether the application of these principles will impact on the way these countries are governed?
Government and politics related literature mentions some essential elements to be highlighted when applying the Open Government concepts, including but not limited to, public administration champions, civic society champions and civic hacker groups. Yet, there are a considerable number of other very specific points to consider. Will Open Government initiatives in developing countries, especially Libya, be driven in the same way as in the USA, UK, or Kenya? Given that Open Government is a way of respecting the public right to engage more in the decision-making, will the citizen and the society’s reaction be positive and enhanced to ensure better application for such concepts? How can open government data increase the transparency, accountability and the trust between the citizen and the public in unstable rich countries e.g Libya?