Open Data Day 2015 Recap #4: Hacks, Meet Ups and Data Exploration in Africa!

Open Data Day 2015, which took place on February 21, was celebrated in hundreds of communities around the world. In this blog series, we have been highlighting the discussions and outcomes of a small selection of the hacks, data dives and meetups that were organised that day. In this fourth post in the series, we will be looking at a selection of events that took place in Africa, from Tunisia to South Africa and Nigeria to Kenya! If you want to learn more about what transpired in other parts of the world, check out our recaps posts on Asia, the Americas and Europe.

Open Data Day was rocking this year on the African continent, here is just a sample of some of the incredible events that were organised through open community members!

Cameroon

As far as we can tell, the award for largest open data day event in the world goes to the open data community in Yaoundé, Cameroon who managed to pile 2,000 people into the amphitheater at the University of Yaoundé to learn about open data and its potential to improve the lives of citizens in Cameroon. Furthermore, as if 2,000 people in an university amphitheater on a Saturday afternoon wasn’t impressive enough, the event had 5,000 registered participants and incredible online engagement.

ODD Cameroon

The NetSquared Yaoundé community brought together students, open data experts and professors to listen and learn about the importance of open data and specifically the benefits that open data can bring education, economic development, citizen engagement and government transparency and accountability. In a keynote talk, the president of the College of Law and Political Science at the University of Yaoundé emphasised the importance open data for researchers in Cameroon and West Africa as a whole, highlighting that access to open data allows researchers to better understand the challenges they are facing and to developed evidence based and locally specific solutions.

Our hats are off to the open data community in Cameroon, what an exceptional result!

Tanzania

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, open data day was attended by technologists, programmers, hackers, students, activists and NGOs, all of whom came together to grow the local open knowledge community, introduce newcomers to civic hacking and demonstrate the incredible storytelling power of data and data driven projects. Overall, the event was a great success. Several open data projects were presented and a number of open data challenges were identified discussed (for example, the lack of open licence, FOIA, and reluctance of government agencies to share data). Together, participants, shared their strategies to overcome these challenges and brainstormed an effective best path forward.

Participants acknowledged the very real challenge that the open movement is facing in Tanzania as some civil society groups still fail to see the value of coming together to collectively raise a louder voice in demanding open government data. Ultimately, participants determined that the open movement in Tanzania would benefit from increased community building efforts and targeting new partners in order to push the open agenda forward with a larger, more joined-up, base. The participants also determined that there was a need to encourage government officials to attend events like this in the future.

Nigeria

In Nigeria, the open data community organised Benin City’s first open data hackathon with resounding success.

The goal of the event was simple, to raise awareness for open data by using the agricultural sector as an example and demonstrating how data was being used by entrepreneurs in the sector. By the end of the day, organisers hoped that they would generate a pool of ideas on how to stimulate innovation within the agricultural sector through data driven applications and were pleased to report that a number of ideas emerged from the day’s discussion. Keynote presentations were used to introduce key concepts and provide examples of open data. Subsequently, participants were asked to get their hands dirty and actually work with data and think about solutions to challenges within the sector.

Open Data Day participants in Benin City worked with agriculture data from the state’s open data portal – www.data.edostate.gov.ng. The emerging projects are still in development phase and are not yet online but organisers were incredibly excited to see participants working with the data the government has been publishing!

Uganda

Kampala, Uganda was bustling with open data day activities this year, so much so that hackathons were carried out across two weekends!

Open Data Uganda

On February 28th, Reality Check organised an open data day event for journalists, researchers, entrepreneurs, students and technologists. This followed up on data storytelling from the week before. Participants learned about the strengths and weaknesses of tools like videos, pictures, charts as well as about the various tools that are available. Participants learned how to clean and visualise data it in order to use it for effective storytelling. New visualisations were created as well. .. Check it out here.

The participants discussed the progress that had been made over the past year, specifically focusing on what worked and what didn’t, in order to plan better for the year to come. The event was a great success and created such excitement among participants that many of them want to meet and discuss the subject on a monthly basis! In addition, a new google group as well as facebook page were opened to allow people can keep in touch and continue to engage with one another online as well as offline.

Finally, in February in Kampala, open data related activities were not limited to one off hackathons> check out the awesome Code for Africa Bootcamp organised the following week! February was a busy month for open data in Uganda!

Tunisia

In Tunisia, Clibre organised a meetup with a diverse group of participants to celebrate open data day 2015! There were a number of participants with little to no technical knowledge and the goal of the meetup was to expose all participants to the concept of open data and open government as well as to discuss the legal implications of open government in light of the new Tunisian constitution.

ODD Tunisia

Following the presentations and discussion, a number of initiatives using Open Data in Tunisia were presented. M. Nizar Kerkeni, president of the CLibre Association, presented the new open data portal developed for the city of Sayada. At the end of the day, after having had the chance to play around with the new data portal, M. Ramzi Hajjaji from CLibre announced that an official web portal for the city of Monastir would be launched soon, inspired by the portal developed for the city of Sayada.

You can check out a full report of the day (in French) on their website, along with a number of videos (in Arabic)!

Kenya

Kenya ODD

Open Data Day in Mombasa, Kenya was celebrated by organising four separate focus groups in order to explore the potential of open data in the following key areas: security, economy, education & conservation.

The conservation group looked at data on everything from marine and wildlife conservation to the conservation of historic buildings and sites in Mombasa. They looked for various datasets, analysed the data and created various data visualisations documenting pertinent trends. The group exploring the potential of open data on the economy built a prototype for an open tendering system for the government of Kenya, scoping the necessary features and potential impact. The participants exploring open data in education brainstormed various ways in which open data could help parents and students make more informed choices about where they go to school. Finally, in the security group, participants discussed and hacked on ways that they could use open data to combat corruption and fraud.

South Africa

In South Africa, Code for South Africa organised an Data Easter Egg Hunt! If you want to find out more, check out the awesome video they made on the day!