Code for Pakistan’s Ebtihaj Khan Talks About the Importance of Having Success Stories in MySociety’s Civic Tech Surgery Series
A panel discussion titled “Civic Tech Surgery #1 — Public-Private Collaborations: How Can Civic Tech Work Effectively With Public and Private Institutions?” was hosted by mySociety on October 28th, 2021.
This was the first panel in a series called “TICTeC Civic Tech Surgeries,” which will take place over the next 18 months as part of mySociety’s newly expanded TICTeC Labs programme of activities and events, where panelists opened up about the challenges of working on private-public civic tech projects, as well as their solutions and ideas to tackle global issues.
Ebtihaj Khan, Code for Pakistan’s Government Innovation Lead was joined on the high-level panel by Aline Muylaert, Co-founder CitizenLab; Gabriella Razzano, Director & Co-founder of OpenUp; and Amanda Clarke, Associate Professor, Carleton University. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Rebecca Rumbul; Head of Research at mySociety and co-moderated by Gemma Moulder; Events and Engagement Manager at mySociety.
Ebtihaj Khan talked about challenges from within a Pakistan, and spoke of Code for Pakistan’s initial struggles with Government; however, he makes clear that our persistence paid off in the end:
“When we started six, seven years ago, we used to quote success stories of Code for America but now we have our own success stories, which makes it easier to get local govt partners onboard.”
Gabriella shared her thoughts on the South African civic tech sector and advised other civic tech groups to keep contracts clear, and to be practical when it comes to implementation [of projects]. Amanda Clarke, who represented the researcher’s point-of-view, made the case to be vigilant against big, for-profit organizations leveraging on panic, pre and post pandemic, to acquire government contracts. Shedding light on the Pakistani context, Ebtihaj said: “”similar work happening in silos, there is a need to combine our efforts”.
The hour-long discussion was followed by a Q&A session, where Ebtihaj spoke eloquently about the need for financial sustainability to continue the important work we do, noting that in the civic-tech sector, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Diversity, he claimed, was the key to growth, and that to build the movement, “We should work on challenges that most people agree on, and then work towards changing attitude on challenges that aren’t agreed upon”.
Watch the complete session here: