This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office.  This event was supported through the min-grants scheme under the Open contracting and tracking public money flows theme.

On Saturday, March 4, 2017, in the premises of the fablab, Blolab hosted the Open Data Day in Cotonou in Benin. Like the 300 other events held around the world on the occasion of World Data Day, the initiative attracted dozens of people with different profiles to learn, exchange and share their experiences around open data. In Cotonou, the Bloggers Association of Benin organised the event under the theme « Learning and understanding the interest of open data as a lever for transparency ». 

The idea was to explain to the public the importance of open data in the perspective of fighting corruption to promote good governance and citizen participation and citizen control of public action. Innovation and improved services to citizens/users are other open data issues addressed during the meeting.

Four communications on open data

The first presentation was entitled « Open Data, from the origins to the present » which was delivered by myself, Maurice Thantan. As head of the Association of Bloggers of Benin, the main organiser of the meeting, I first recalled the history, the objectives, the principles but also the advantages of open data. This presentation was punctuated by examples of citizen projects carried out using open data. Tools and resources needed to deepen the discussion were also shared.

The second presentation focused on the relationship between open data and transparency. This lively presentation was led by Franck Kouyami. As an open data specialist and an adept of the free movement in general, he had already organised and co-organized two open data days in Cotonou in the past.

The third communication was peculiar. It was rather a sharing of experience. Indeed, Malick Tapsoba, head of Open Data Burkina Faso was the special guest of the event. He shared the experience of Burkina Faso in the implementation of open data policy. In Francophone Africa, Burkina Faso is cited as a model for opening up public data. The country cited as one of the most promising and to follow closely this year according to Guardian.

The fourth and final communication of the day was the work of Shadai Ali. Partner at Open SI (one of the sponsors of this Open Data Day), Shadaï explained in his presentation how open data can accelerate the digital transformation of companies.

Enthusiastic personalities and participants

These four presentations were of interest to the participants because of the quality of the speakers. The public was also composed of personalities. The Director of the Digital Agency and Director of State of Information Services and Systems at the Presidency of the Republic was present. The general manager of the media was also there. Researchers, civil society actors, journalists and academics also made the trip.

The event ended on a note of satisfaction. Some participants who had just been sensitised on the Open Data theme ensured their commitment to advocate for Open Data in Benin. A Storify thread of the day’s event in tweets and pictures is available here.