Stakeholders make case for open data in Africa at report launch

Accra, 20 July 2017 (ECA) - The maiden edition of The Africa Data Revolution Report (ADRR2016) has been launched in Accra, Ghana, with calls for governments and other data producers to make data open, accessible and free.

The report was presented on 20 July during a panel discussion on the margins of the 2nd Africa Open Data Conference where President Nana Akufo-Addo said his government was committed to making data open, as a way of empowering citizens and enhancing democracy.

“We have resolved to ensure that government data is legally and technically open. Open data will encourage citizens to hold government accountable and ensure greater transparency. Open data must work in Ghana for the benefit of the citizenry.”

ADRR2016 maps the data ecosystem in Africa with reference to the production, distribution and use of data by public, private and civil society actors, as they relate to the SDGs. The report is jointly published by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Wide Web Foundation and Open Data for Development Network (OD4D).

During the July 20 panel discussion participants made robust critique of the report, noting that it is not user-friendly and not branded as a product of Africa by Africans. To ensure effective and efficient dissemination, it was suggested that communication experts be made an integral part of the entire research, production and publishing processes - rather than “an after thought.” 

It was also recommended that the next editions of ADRR should have more input from national statistics offices and greater collaboration with African governments. Similar points were raised during a pre-launch workshop on 19 July and responded to by Serge Kapto, Policy Specialist at the Data for Development Post-2015 Team, UNDP.

Mr. Kapto said all the “rich perspectives, insights and recommendations” from stakeholders were greatly appreciated and will be taken into account “to ensure that the 2018 report responds to the development priorities of the continent as embodied in Agendas 2063 and 2030.”

This view was also highlighted by ECA’s Chukwudozie Ezigbalike, Chief of the Data Technology Section at the Africa Centre for Statistics who said “it was absolutely necessary and important for us to have such engagement with the data community and get feedback that can guide our work on the next report.”

The report also got plaudits from panelists and members of the audience for being “original and African.”

Fernand Perini, Coordinator of OD4D, described the report as “an African Agenda by Africans for Africa,” adding that the publishers have done a great job in bringing together the African community and statisticians to work together towards data revolution in Africa.”

Muchiri Nyaggah (AODN), Partnership and Advocacy Lead at the Africa Open Data Network, said the report “highlights that the data revolution is not just about data but about the necessarily policy, institutional and human capital elements that must be addressed for it to support sustainable development.”

For Nnenna Nwakanma, Senior Policy Manager at the Web Foundation,  “Open Data is one sure avenue to digital equality. We therefore actively lend our support to actors in Africa through our engagement with ADRR,  the Gender initiatives and the  Regional Snapshots of the Open Data Barometer.”

In an interview wth journalists after the panel discussions, Mr. Ezigbalike said, “ We want you to be part of this data revolution. Journalists are stakeholders in our quest for more openness and accessibility of data.Your ability to simplify and communicate our work to the wider public is indispensable in Africa’s data revolution.”

ADRR is a biennial report. The next edition will be out in 2018 and will focus on open data.

Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826