SEMA

TRANSPARENCY CHALLENGE; UGANDA

Sema Team (1).png

PROVEN INTERVENTION TO BE DISTRIBUTED

An SMS chatbot that facilitates citizen feedback about public institutions and public service delivery. 

Learn more about the Transparency Challenge and how citizen reporting platforms can be used to hold government officials accountable and reduce corruption.

 

DISTRIBUTION MODEL INNOVATION

East Africa has a critical need for innovative accountability mechanisms. In Uganda, corruption related crimes increased by 382% between 2009 and 2014. SEMA, a Swahili word meaning, "Speak! What's up," is an SMS chatbot that facilitates feedback about public institutions and public service delivery. SEMA invites citizens to text message a public institution after they've engaged with that institution. This is done through offline feature, phone-friendly technology. By sending a text to a particular reserved number, users of a public institution have the ability to (anonymously) say things like, "you are corrupt" or "thanks for the help". Unlike existing bribe-reporting platforms, a chatbot stimulates a direct and instant conversation with the user which can trigger follow on questions and can lead to more targeted data. As a consequence, citizens will feel heard by their local government and gain an active role in improving its services. The team will implement a pilot in Kampala, Uganda with five public institutions. 

SEMA then generates data about which public institutions are the most positively and negatively regarded. By publicly publishing rankings regularly, SEMA identifies positively regarded public institutions, thereby providing incentive for poorly performing public institutions to improve. Public institutions are advised by SEMA consultants on how best to improve their service and fight corruption based on monthly, real time citizen feedback data. This service will become a key revenue source for SEMA's operations. SMEA will also provide its platform to local businesses, further enhancing sustainability. Eventually, be developing its technical dashboard, SEMA will be able to perform in-depth analysis, identifying key areas for improvement in areas such as sexism, racism, or language barriers. 

The key to SEMA's development is the utilization of a community development strategy. The strategy is modeled after the successful implementation of the political transparency startup GovFaces, launched in Europe. A Community Manager will administer the community development network, recruit a volunteer force, and ensure results. A volunteer force of 8-10 individuals will receive a modest reimbursement for expenses and a quota-based payment depending on the number of new users and returning users to SEMA. 

 

PILOT AND SCALING GOALS

  • User feedback experiments run with 2 public institutions during the pilot phase 
  • SMEA app is created and tested with 15-20 individuals during the pilot phase 
  • SEMA will be launched with 5 public institutions at the end of the pilot with 1,000 public feedback submissions gathered 
  • 10,000 public submissions made at the end of 6 months 
  • Receive 100,000 submissions by the end of year 1 
  • Expand to two other cities in Uganda by the end of year 1 
  • Expand to 40 public institutions receiving feedback by the end of year 2 

 

FOUNDING TEAM

Nathalie Dijkman - Chief Executive Officer 

Connor Sattely - Chief Technical Officer 

Timothy Kakuru - Community Manager