Starting on June 17, 2011, the four teams began work in earnest. The group worked under extreme pressure. Mohamed of Trademark East Africa, who led the technical team, said, "The project management was minute to minute. There was no detailed plan apart from the overall plan, which was [that] we needed to do this by this day." The team did not have time to write out technical documents or specifications.
Coordination was important, especially between the technical team and the data team. For instance, a technical team member who found missing or faulty data would contact the data group to remedy the error, no matter how small the mistake. That simple step ensured quality and accountability. To vet software applications before the launch, the task force set up a peer review procedure. For instance, when Erik Hersman, founder of the software developer community iHub and a member of the task force, submitted an application, the technical team had two days to respond with comments. Mohamed said, "We had to enforce quality control [and] didn't want delays, because the president [was coming to the launch]."
Not surprisingly, agencies with national security concerns were wary of the open data concept. With two days left before the launch, President Kibaki summoned Ndemo to his office. Several ministers, including the minister for internal security, had expressed concerns about the Kenya Open Data Initiative, comparing it to WikiLeaks. The president's office was poised to cancel the portal.
At a July 7 meeting, the day before the proposed public launch, Ndemo and other task force members assured the president and cabinet ministers that the initiative was controlled locally and that the data was already in the public domain -- in electronic or paper format. The 20-minute meeting turned into a two-hour session as task force members demonstrated through charts and graphs how visualizing open data could help allocate resources. Ndemo noted that the group present was particularly interested in ways that open data could spur employment. Kibaki assured Ndemo that he would inaugurate the portal the next day.
On July 8, 2011, Kibaki officially launched the site, which showcased 200 data sets organized into six categories: education, energy, health, population, poverty, and water and sanitation. The data included the 2009 census; seven years of detailed government expenditure data, including national and county public expenditure; national budgets; the 2005 household income survey; and information on health care and education.
Kenya's portal made international headlines and lit up the blogosphere. Newspapers such as The Guardian and The New York Times carried articles about the site. The Star, a national Kenyan newspaper, rated it number one in a list of "Kenya's biggest ICT stories of 2011."
Proponents lauded the portal as a giant step forward for Kenya, but some observers were less effusive. They insisted that the project's value ultimately depended on citizen use. Davis Adieno, former national coordinator at the National Taxpayers Association, a government accountability organization, commented on the disparity between the praise the portal received and its actual usage: "It is being celebrated internationally, but very few Kenyans know about the portal or what it is about." In 2012, a year after the launch, the media, and the public had not used the open data portal as widely as proponents had anticipated. As Ndemo related, "Right now, we have dealt with just the supply side of data. The challenge now is to build the demand side of data."