Open Government Data principle use, reuse, redistribute provides great opportunities to promote massive social, political, and economic transformation in governments and societies. Consequently, governments around the world have taken up the challenge of opening and making transparent the data pertaining to their functioning and those of the public sector at large. In this context the biennial Africa Open Data Conference (AODC) was established in 2015 with the first AODC in Tanzania during 2015 and the 2nd AODC in Ghana.
The 2nd Africa Open Data Conference was held in Accra, Ghana from 17 – 21 July 2017 at the Accra International Conference Centre. The Government of Ghana has hosted the conference through the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) under the Ministry of Communications.
President of Ghana His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo inaugurated the event along with Hon’ble Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications and both assured all support for the Open Data movement in the country. The conference was driven by Hon’ble Vincent Sowah Odotei, Deputy Minister Communications and Jeff Konadu Addo, Director General NITA.
The organizers invited representation from Open Government Data (OGD) Platform India with travel and accommodation support from Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN). Participating in the conference and exchanging ideas on the Indian Open Data ecosystem and African Open Data ecosystem was a good learning experience to Ms Alka Mishra, HoD, OGD Division and Mr D P Misra, Technical Director from National Informatics Centre (NIC) who represented India.
Session: Make Ghana’s Open Data Portal The Greatest In The World
Panel members: Mark Abu-Dadzie- IT Director for Ghana Statistical Services GSS data portal, Eric Akumiah- Director for Ghana Open Data Portal, Abdoulaye Ba – Head of Database Management, National Statistics, Senegal, Alka Mishra and D. P. Misra – OGD India, Willie Seabrook- Angry Cactus (DKAN platform for Tunisia), Jeanne Holm – Deputy CIO, City of Los Angeles, Teki Akkueteh- Data Protection Lead Ghana, Paul Plantinga, OpenUp & South Africa National Open Data Portal, Innocent Mugabe, Aid & Information Officer, Rwanda, Aliyu Aliyu – Head of Regulations and Database, Department/Manager E-procurement, Government of Nigeria, Jean Rufin ANDRIAHERIZO, Aid Coordination Permanent Secretariat – Prime Minister Office, Madagascar, Mr. Kenneth Bagarukayo, eGovernment National Information Technology Agency, Government of Uganda
In this session the Indian delegation presented and shared the best practices of Indian Open Government Data ecosystem in terms of Policy, Data Management, Guidelines, Governance, Community Engagement, Software as a Service (SaaS), Events, etc. Moreover, the share the experience in extending support by India to Ghana in setting up their Open Data Platform powered by Open Government Platform (OGPL).
The delegation has also show case the Software as a Service (SaaS) model of latest version of OGD, which includes:
The African delegation has delighted to know the progress in the Open Government Data Platform India. They also sought to have a focus group meeting with the Dy. Minister of Communications and NITA management on possible collaboration with India on Open Data.
Session: Who Counts? Country Data Roadmaps: How non-government benefits from and influence open data government work role and SDGs
Panel members: Aidan Eyakuze, D. P. Misra – OGD India, Ghana Statistical Services (rep.), Liberia Institute of Statistics & Geo-Information Services (rep.)
The panel has discussed various Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and the role of Open Data in achieving that in an African context. D. P. Misra from OGD team has shared Indian experience on releasing administrative and census data in open format. The discussion has also focused on the successful models of engagement of NGOs, community, research organizations, social entrepreneurs and other private entities in Open Data ecosystem.
A case study of a social entrepreneur was discussed. Twaweza, a social enterprise in Tanzania, has been implementing a large scale, multi-year citizen-driven data collection programme to monitor education outcomes, and the accuracy of its findings (although initially questioned by government officials) was demonstrated in later years. As radical as this project was, they still implemented specific controls from the statistics community to ensure the quality and credibility of data.
In India as well, a Social Entrepreneur used the Local Market Data, refreshed in every six hourly, to create a virtual market place for sellers and buyers through a Mobile App. In India Contribution of Open Data by non-government sources has been in debate since long. OGD Task Force has also suggested a committee to study on this. But the African model is an eye opener. The Indian counterpart could study it and suggest majors for contribution of Open Data from non-government sources such as research organizations, academia, NGOs, etc.
Session: AgPack Workshop and Introduction by Open Data for Agriculture & Nutrition
Primary objective of the session was to understand – How to make open data work from a policy perspective? What are the challenges and how to overcome realizing impact with open data from a government?
The session focused on open data and its impact on Agriculture and Nutrition. The Indian story of Agmakrnet and Kisan Call Centre and the Social Entrepreneur used the Local Market Data, refreshed in every six hourly, to create a virtual market place for sellers and buyers through a Mobile App was of much talked about topics.
Session: Africa Open Data Conference Public Forum
Wisdom Donkor, NITA was the session coordinator and Panellists were Professor Nii Quaynor, National Information Technology Agency (NITA), National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Ghana Statistical Services (GSS), Ghana Ministry of Food & Agriculture and Alka Mishra, HoD OGD – India.
Panellists were to answer questions prepared, culled from social media, and spontaneous from audience and online participants. The Public Forums are the open microphone sessions that afford the community the opportunity to make comments and ask questions directly to panel in front of the rest of the community. Each speaker will be limited to two minutes. For transparency, a scribe feed is provided both in the room and via remote participation in real-time to allow all comments and questions raised during the session to be viewed by everyone. Remote participants have the opportunity to raise questions and/or comments can occur via email.
During the session Ms. Alka Mishra presented a detailed life cycle management of the OGD initiative in India and answered to all queries from the public on Indian Policy Framework and Technology Innovation in the areas of Open Data and Citizen Engagement space in Indian Government. Challenges and way ahead was also exciting to the participants.
Meeting with Hon’ble Vincent Sowah Odotei, Dy. Minister Communications, Government of Ghana along with his team from NITA
On special request from NITA, the OGD team also met the Deputy Minister Communications, Chief Director, Ministry of Communication, Director General, NITA and Head Open Data Initiative Government of Ghana and discussed about the possible collaboration between India and Ghana on various aspects other than Open Data. The Minister seeks cooperation from India on Open Data Policy and Technology. During the exclusive meeting the Ms. Alka Mishra and D. P. Misra presented the activities and success stories of NIC and technological advancements done in the areas of ICT in India.
The visit to Ghana and participating in the Africa Open Data Conference was as exciting as learning experience to the OGD Team India. Participating in international events enriches the team members with international experiences and success stories and new ideas.