Open Data in Africa : A path in the right direction

In the last few years, the momentum for Open Data has been steadily growing in Africa - with a few countries launching national level platforms. The Open Data for Africa is one of the comprehensive representation of collections from all Africa data by an African institution. The platform is supported by the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and is committed to support statistical development in Africa. This will go a long way in helping African governments and institutions to come up with grounded policies  that help reduce poverty on the continent. 

Review the Open Data for Africa Portal 

Other sources of Open Data 

Various developmental partners such as United Nations agencies that have been working in Africa for decades have collected a lot of datasets that they share on their various platforms. Similarly, the World Bank has helped a number of countries to share their data and provided guidelines for doing so. The World Bank and the Open Data Institute and the Open Knowledge Foundation created the Partnership for Open Data, which aims to support developing countries to plan, execute and run open data initiatives.

In the agricultural domain, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations have made available their datasets via the platform. Through this platform data collected from various projects and programmes that FAO engages in - from various member countries - is shared for access and reuse. 

The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) is another global movement to support global efforts to make agricultural and nutritionally relevant data available, accessible, and usable for application worldwide. Currently, the GODAN Initiative has 17 partners from the African continent, which includes the Kenya Open Data platform.

The case of Kenya Open Data  Platform

The goal of is to make key governmental developmental, demographic, statistical and expenditure data available in a useful digital format for researchers, policymakes, and the general public. It has now more than 699 datasets that have been uploaded to the site  in the following domains - education, energy, environment and agriculture. In agriculture, there are 14 datasets that focus on market prices, cattle production and livestock in general.

Africa Open Data Conference (AODC)

With all these developments in open data, the spotlight will be on Africa this September as the Africa Open Data Conference (AOD) roars into life. The conference presents an opportune moment to shape the focus of global partners to the potentials of open data and also allow African institutions to review their progress in the area of Open Data. The GODAN will participate in this event and will have a partner meeting where many of the positive impacts of open data in agriculture are to be discussed.

In conclusion, more potential datasets are to emerge in the context of Africa, and since most African economies are agro-based the participation of GODAN and other agricultural partners posses a great habinger to the visibility of African datasets. There is still a need to produce more structured data that can be further reused and exploited by researchers, policy makers and the general public.