This post was written by Stephen Abbott Pugh from Code for Africa
Rwanda’s jump in the Global Open Data index rankings from 74th to 44th comes at a time when the open data conversation is gathering pace in the country.
As Rwanda’s cabinet prepares to debate the draft national open data policy in early 2016, the focus over the next year should move from the supply of data to stimulating demand and encouraging use of open data.
The good news is that an early draft of Rwanda’s national policy recognises this stating that the aim “is to achieve a sustainable open data initiative that addresses both the supply and the reuse of open data” and that “demand for data and engagement with user communities are vital”. The policy also acknowledges how open data will help monitor and evaluate Rwanda’s progress towards its national development targets.
Once the policy is in place, the Government of Rwanda’s open data team could focus on making budget documents/data available in open formats and providing more up-to-date data on mapping and land use which would build on the work already done to open up location data and land ownership information.
Projects like the Girl Impact Map show how to unlock the value of this geographical data while the annual infographics competition run by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda demonstrates how important it is for local partners to use open data and make it accessible to the public.
Key stakeholders at the recently-announced centre of excellence for the sustainable development goals – to be created in Rwanda’s capital Kigali – could also help stimulate data demand in the country and set an international example by working with local developers to create projects which make good use of open government data.
Stephen Abbott Pugh is an ICFJ Knight international journalism fellow based in Rwanda. He works as the engagement strategist at Code for Africa and is the co-founder of Tumenye, a civic technology company in Rwanda.