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About the team: Ashok Hariharan

Gawati: Greetings Ashok, tell us a little about yourself...

My name is Ashok Hariharan, I am a legal & legislative technology consultant, and I have about 21 years of experience in different areas of software engineering and system integration. More specifically since 2005, I have been involved in the convergence between technology and legal and legislative information. I am from India, but I lived and worked in Kenya for 15 years of my working life.

Gawati: So, tell us a little bit about your Kenyan experience? How did you find it?

When I first came to Nairobi in 1999, Kenya was still a single party state – there were no mobile phones and internet access was very limited. Things started changing after 2001. There were multi-party elections, gradually the mobile revolution kicked in and internet access dramatically improved.

I was fortunate to have been present in the midst of this rapid change. I saw first-hand, how people demanded their rights, and there was active pressure on the government to provide access to legal information and data. You don't know your rights unless you are informed first.

Gawati: What was your role in Kenya?

At the time, the question was how do we make it easier to provide information? I got involved with the UN backed Africa i-Parliaments project in 2005, and here we decided to tackle the problem of access to information from the producers side by using technology to make it easier for producers of legislation and legal information to publish information. Out of these ideas came the Bungeni Parliamentary and Legislative Information System and the document format which is now the a href="http://www.akomantoso.org/" title="Akoma Ntoso website" target="_blank">Akoma Ntoso standard for legal and legislative documents.

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