Assessment of readiness for the use of open data in the Republic of Tajikistan

It is widely believed that Open Government Data (OGD) policies can lead to greater transparency, accountability and citizen engagement. It is also believed that they can foster government efficiency, better public service delivery and better policy by evidence-based decision-making. This can not only support the Country’s Development and leverage Good Governance goals, but also save tax money. In addition to these benefits OGD might unwheel potentials for innovation, creation of jobs and economic growth.

This case study aims to explore these assumptions in the context of Tajikistan, by analysing the conditions and context. Tajikistan is a presidential republic consisting of four provinces. Almost immediately after independence, Tajikistan was plunged into a civil war that ended in 1997. Tajikistan is officially a republic, and holds elections for the Presidency and Parliament. It is, however, a Dominant-party system, where the People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan routinely has a vast majority in Parliament.

The Government of Tajikistan is facing significant challenges. These include but are not limited to a weak economy, high levels of unemployment, returning migrant workers, and little foreign investments. In addition armed conflicts, and terrorism in neighboring countries and issues with trafficking of drugs and arms represent real threats to the Government. This makes it unlikely that Open Data will become a high priority. On the other hand, there is a window of opportunity: Open Data can help the Government as a means to inform better, thus evidence-based, decision-making. The government is in the process of drafting its new National Development Strategy for 2016-2020. At the same time the Government is under pressure to justify its decisions and policies to address these challenges. There is a chance to build Open Data into the NDS and align it with the National E-Government Strategy. Introduced like this the vertical structure of the government could be introduced effectively as a top-down mandate.