Open Data Day in Kenya and in Madagascar

Co-authored by Prisca Rananjarison (Madagascar) and Chepkemoi Magdaline (Kenya)

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The events in this blog were supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Follow the Money theme.

Transparency International – Initiative Madagascar organized a conference at the the Resource Center for Contemporary Arts of Madagascar (CRAAM) in Antananarivo regarding open data concerning the public finances in Madagascar. EldoHub organized a hackathon which resulted in data-driven ideas with a hope of disrupting corruption by ensuring transparency and accountability in the use of public funds/resources in Kenya.  The two organizations have the same vision of using open data to support public oversight of governments and to help reduce corruption by enabling greater transparency.  Their objectives were to promote the use open data to contribute to public planning, feedback to public institutions on service quality innovation and economic purposes.

EldoHub, located in the western region of Kenya, celebrated the open data day through a hackathon. It was held with a focus on County governments` transparency and accountability. The participants were technologists, university students, entrepreneurs and leaders from other institutions to who brainstormed and came up with lasting solutions for transparency and accountability in government institutions.

Celebration moods at Eldohub

In Madagascar, the event was held on March 6th at the resource center for contemporary arts of Madagascar (CRAAM). A hundred participants (representatives’ of the governments, the ministry, private sector, the civil society, students and regular citizens) attended the event.

at Resource Center  for Contemporary Arts, Madagascar

At EldoHub the main goal for the event was to come up with data driven tools to track county government’s use of finances provided by the national government or solutions that enable public to access information regarding the use of finances in the public offices and track development projects.

The following groups presented their ideas to the judges:

  • WIKI FARM – A platform to use open data through SMS and USSD to guide farmers on good farming practices, and how to increase credit worthiness. They also seek to use open data to influence policies to make farming attractive to young people in Kenya and the entire Africa.
  • OKOA Mama – A platform to provide to the community regarding maternal health in Kenya`s public health institution, with the aim of providing solution to the ailing maternal health care system in Kenya. They also use SMS/USSD to reach pregnant women with information.
  • WAZI – A tool that can be used to track financial spending in the government. It can be used to track the budgets and development projects.
  • Exposed – Using data to expose corrupt dealings in the county governments more like whistle blowing.
  • E-transparency – Using open data to reduce favourism, nepotism and corruption in the tendering in the county governments in Kenya.

OKOA Mama presentation time

Judges keenly following thepresentations at Eldohub, Kenya

In Madagascar the event was graced by some speakers who gave keynote speeches on different topics that relate to Open Data Day. The speakers were Prisca Rananjarison (independent journalist and data-activist), Frederic Lesne (Transparency International Intiative Madagascar) and Florian Schatz (BIANCO- Independent anti-corruption office).

Madagascar Open Data Day speakers

First on the floor was Prisca Rananjarison who presented on open data, what it is and the criteria for data openness. She also discussed the problems of open data in Madagascar such as: the data are in pdf formats, most of the data remain in paper form and data are scattered and diluted in many sites. In Madagascar, there is no platform dedicated solely to open data in public finances. Citizens have minimal information on the public budgets. The opportunities available to them to participate in the budgeting process are very limited. Malagasy citizens do not know where the public money goes!  Added to this is the corruption that undermines the country.

Second on the floor was Frederic Lesne, who talked about the results of the corruption Perception index (CPI).  Frederic highlighted the Transparency International initiative which intends to work on the promotion of a law on access to information which will allow the government to practice open data. However, he lamented on the government not putting in efforts to join the Open Governmental Partnership: despite it showing the intent to integrate it in 2016, until now nothing has been done.

Florian Schatz presented BIANCO`s missions. This independent anti-corruption office aims to fight against corruption in Madagascar. The mission includes three components:

  1. Law enforcement
  2. Education
  3. Preventions

He showed that there is a strong correlation between open data and performance in the fight against corruption. The more open data is, the less corruption there is, as in the North for example.

Florian Schatz, BIANCO

General public airing their views in Madagascar at CRAAM

Next to the keynote sessions in Madagascar, the public were also given a chance to air their opinion on how to improve governance using open data in order to enhance transparency. This day was about introducing the assistance to the challenges of open data. Convinced that this is a wonderful tool against corruption, this conference is the first step of a lobbying aiming at creating a platform dedicated to public finances. But for this to happen, a law on access to information is required.

The next action for the Transparency International Initiative Madagascar is to make a multiparty convention that will soon be signed for the promotion of open data in Madagascar.

In Kenya the event was all about brainstorming on ideas that can enhance the citizens’ access data and use the data for the benefit of the country. OKOA Mama Group emerged on position one. They were followed by E-transparency as first runner-up and WikiFarm as the second runner-up. They were followed by WAZI and Exposed respectively.

Recommendations and Conclusion

Funding

We recommend the release of funds before the date of the event rather than after the event. This will make it easy for planning and avoid last minute rush. Due to high turnout than the expected, we incurred extra expenses but we are glad that we were still able to make the event more successful despite the shortcomings.

Incubation

From the event, amazing ideas were presented, we feel they should be mentored and incubated. We therefore request that extra funding be provided so that they can be incubated to fruition at EldoHub incubation center. This will ensure all the ideas come to life.

Turn Out

The two events were well attended.

Events in Non- Capital Cities

We also recommend more such events and forums outside the capital cities be supported. This is because a lot of focus has been on the city. In Kenya most hubs are in Nairobi: if other hubs outside the capital city like EldoHub are supported it will lead to more inclusion.

For more photos of the Open Data Day, Eldoret, Kenya, click here.