Arcane rituals, parliaments and innovation

Awarded on 21 Oct 2014

Magilatech Company Ltd


Democratic participation and civil society, Free flow of information, Information and Communication Technology

Grant amount £11,663.84

As I write this post, I’m sat about a kilometre away from the Palace of Westminster, the home of the British Parliament. I can think of few institutions more in thrall to tradition and old ways of doing things than the British Parliament. Indeed, parliaments worldwide seem to revel in rituals and traditions expressed through arcane practices and frankly bizarre dress codes. Despite having been out of fashion more generally for several centuries, garters, ermine robes, swords and tri-corner hats continue to play a central role in many parliaments around the world.

Still, apart from the world of dress-up and make believe, some individuals and organisations are re-inventing the way in which we see and interact with parliaments. Rather than going to a library to consult a dusty volume of out-of-date parliamentary proceedings, organisations like Magila Tech in Tanzania are devising new and more innovative ways of accessing parliament. Using interactive voice response (IVR), Magila Tech’s work is making the Tanzanian Parliament more transparent and accessible than ever before. Allowing users to listen to proceedings and debates live and to access recordings on particular topics, Magila Tech’s work aims to bring the benefits of parliamentary transparency to those who may lack access to television or the internet.

Having previously supported Magila Tech’s work, we’re delighted to be providing them with a further grant of £11,664 for marketing and advertising to extend their reach and connect with new people. Part of the work will also involve training civil society, journalists and others on using the tool for their work.