This blog post was written By Solomon Mekonnen Co-founder, Code4Ethiopia & Local Organizer, Open Knowledge
An open data interest group representing 25 participants from universities, NGOs, CSOs and government ministries attended an open data event on 5th March, 2016, with theme “Raising Open Data awareness in the grass root community of Ethiopia”. The event was organized by Code4Ethiopia and Open Knowledge Ethiopia, with the support of Open Knowledge International and Addis Ababa University, in connection with Open Data Day which is a global celebration of openness.
The event was opened by Mr. Mesfin Gezehagn, a University Librarian at the Addis Ababa University (AAU). Mr. Mesfin briefed the participants that Addis Ababa University has been providing training on open research data and open science to postgraduate students and academicians to see more researchers practicing open data sharing (making data free to use, reuse, and redistribute) and open science (making scientific research, data and other results and work flows available to all). He also stated that the University collaborates with open data communities like Open Knowledge Ethiopia and Code4Ethiopia.
Mr. Mesfin also informed the participants that AAU has started drafting a policy to ensure mandatory submission of research data for researches that are sponsored by the University to open the data to the public.
Following the opening, three of the Cofounders of Code4Ethiopia (Solomon Mekonnen, Melkamu Beyene and Teshome Alemu), and a Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science of AAU (Desalegn Mequanint) presented discussion areas for participants. The presentations were focused on Code4Ethiopia and Open Knowledge Ethiopia Programmes , raising Open Data awareness to the grass root Community of Ethiopia , open data experience in African countries, and, social, cultural & economic factors affecting open data implementation in the Ethiopia.
Following, the workshop was opened for discussion by Daniel Beyene, co-founder of Code4Ethiopia. The participants recommend that advocacy should be done from top to down starting from the policy makers to grass root community of Ethiopia and they also proposed that Code4Ethiopia and Open Knowledge Ethiopia in collaboration international partners should organize a national sensitization Open Data Hackathon to reach various stakeholders.
The workshop also identified challenges in Ethiopia for open data implementation including lack of awareness, absence of policy level commitment from governments and lack of appropriate data science skills & data literacy. The participants also selected data sets that need priority for the country’s development and that interest the general public which includes budget data, expenditure (accounts) data, census, trade information, election data, health and educational data.
The workshop was concluded by thanking our partners Open Knowledge International and Addis Ababa University for their contribution to the success of the event. All of the participants have also been invited to join Code4Ethiopia and the Open Knowledge community. Most of the participants have agreed to join these two communities to build open data ecosystem in Ethiopia.