The Africa Open Data Network & Lab

Africa Open Data Network

In the past four years, the Open Data for Developing Countries (ODDC), the Open Data Barometer (ODB) and the Open Data for Development (OD4D) projects have contributed to the emergence of a growing open data community in Africa. This diverse group of government champions, researchers, journalists and activists are mobilizing for open data to become the norm in Africa.

To support the growth of this vibrant, diverse and inclusive group of open data actors in Africa, the Web Foundation as part of the Open Data for Development Network is currently scoping the Africa Open Data Network, a platform geared towards strengthening efforts to increase the provision and use of open data in Africa.

The main objectives of the Africa Open Data Network will be to:

  • Increase the awareness of the value of open data for driving development in Africa by promoting and supporting related initiatives, events and convenings;
  • upport and scale activities among users of open data in Africa by strengthening the capacity of entrepreneurs, activists, journalists and researchers;
  • Promote the adaptation and contextualization of open data principles, practices through partnerships and networks;
  • Connect researchers with practitioners to promote uptake and use of workable approaches to open data.

At a global level, the Africa Open Data Network will bring together stakeholders in Africa with initiatives in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Eastern Europe, for mutual learning on using open data to spur development while addressing the specific opportunities and challenges of the African continent.

Africa Open Data Lab

Building on the findings of open data research in 13 countries in the Global South as part of the Open Data in Developing Countries project and the initial successes of the Web Foundation’s Open Data Lab Jakarta, the Africa Open Data Lab, which is currently in a scoping phase, will adopt an experimental approach to explore how open data can better the lives of Africa’s citizens. Through the Africa Lab we intend to partner with researchers and innovators from across Africa to find out how open data can catalyse positive change in a diverse range of contexts across the continent.

Under the Harnessing Open Data to Achieve Development Results in Africa project, we are already working with partners to understand how open data can contribute to transparent value chains in the coffee sectors of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda and improved water management in the city of Durban. We support investigative journalists in the use of open data (including the leaked Panama Papers) in researching their stories, the development of open data training modules for civil society organisations in Kenya and a data innovation challenge to redress gender inequality in Côte d’Ivoire. We are also exploring the role of data intermediaries in the agricultural sector in Ghana, data sharing practices among health organizations in Tanzania, and how open data can be used to start social enterprises in Nigeria.

We envisage that the Africa Open Data Lab will become an important implementation arm of the Africa Open Data Network and a key regional partner in the production of future editions of the Open Data Barometer.