Data Revolution in Africa: A Key to Africa’s Progress
The High Level Conference on Data Revolution held from March 27 to March 30, 2015 at the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa. It was hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The main reason why I attended this programme was to participate in the side event on rebooting open data in Africa.
After hours on deliberation, the key action areas identified by the open data community for the input to the African data consensus were- Geospatial data/geo-referencing of data, use of satellite data (agriculture, climate change increase capacity of countries to use this data & open this up most of these data is available (sold) outside the continent), Open budget data, identification of how municipalities can be given opportunity to analyse & collect data local urban governance, giving power to NGOs in addition to building their capacity on Open Data, Starting with the champions within governments, Respecting privacy & sensitive datasets, Knowledge and awareness around licensing, Working with research institutes on what data can be given to the public, Working on and making “operational data” open e.g. how many nurses per hospital, Licensing of public data needs to be “Open” by law.
On the role of data communities it was noted that data communities should work more with governments, private sector and research institutes, ensuring more communication and coordination between all data communities, work with the “excluded”, have a more integrated approach with other data communities, e.g. extractives, agriculture, not silos, work with governments to offer our expertise on open data an opportunity such as this to feed to the HLC is critical, understanding and facilitating between different types of government data (e.g. government ministries, departments and agencies), driving the demand for data which should create ownership, use, add value to data, involve the
media who will communicate to citizenry, champion capacity building, work with community radio stations which will be good tools for grassroots awareness & advocacy as well as other actors/hybrid methods for disseminating, work with technocrats in governments, contributing to international data communities, champion governments on timeliness of data released: “Data delayed is data denied”.
At the local level, NGOs in developing countries like Nigeria, citing Connected Development [CODE] have taken advantage of legalized opportunities available to promote the knowledge and use of Open Data in Nigeria. Through the Follow The Money platform, CODE has utilized the Freedon of Information Act to request information meant for public knowledge from private and government organizations to ensure accountability in the use of public funds. The most recent campaign of Follow The Money is the #WomenCookStoves campaign which tracks the 9.2
Billion NGN (US$49.8 million) released b the Nigerian Government for 750,000 clean cookstoves and 18,000 wonderbags for rural women.
The benefits of open data are numerous of which one of them is promoting accountability and transparency which end up boosting the development of countries in Africa. To achieve a world where data is open, it is important to build partnerships both locally and globally. As the post 2015 development agenda is being deliberated on, it is important to put open data at the forefront of the table to ensure that it is prioritized.
A big THANK YOU to the World Wide Web Foundation for sponsoring my trip to the HLC on Data Revolution. More information about the conference can be found Here