Strengthening the use of open data in Francophone Africa to improve policy and citizen engagement and drive innovation
Despite the positive potential and relative progress of open data for development, there are still gaps in creating and sharing high quality, timely, relevant, and accessible data in developing countries. Past research on Francophone Africa has highlighted the lack of capacity among data producers, particularly governments, to release high quality, timely data about public issues. Many countries still lack foundational legislation, such as right-to-information laws, or a lack of political will to enforce them. There are also concerns about data sharing, power, and privacy. Further, in many cases there is a lack of capacity amongst actors in understanding the potential of sharing data or technical practices in releasing digital open data.
Another major challenge is a lack of resources to address capacity and skills gaps, as many resources are not available in French and local languages. These capacity challenges have a negative effect on the release of quality open data about government services such as justice, government budgets and spending, agriculture, education, and more. These challenges contribute to a resulting lack of use of open data, despite demand from a range of stakeholders. Nevertheless, where data is available, useful innovations are emerging, such as mapping aid data to increase the efficiency of service delivery. In addition, there have been notable advancements in assessing spending and delivery outcomes on education and health, monitoring public procurement to reduce corruption and increase efficiency of public spending, and driving innovations and economic growth through community mapping and digital innovations.
This project will focus on strengthening the environment for open and shared data to be used for sustainable development in Francophone Africa. It will support multidisciplinary applied research, capacity building, and innovations to support the release and use of data by governments and intermediaries such as technologists, journalists, academics, civil society groups, and rights organizations. The project will also focus on driving use of data through data challenges and mini-grants and scaling past innovations such as portals on open journalism, aid spending, and more.