On 9 March 2023, Acatech Technology PLC in collaboration with Open Knowledge Ethiopia organised the Open Data Day event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “Open data-driven AI in Ethiopia: Hackathon Event” was the thematic focus of the event. The event brought together participants from Addis Ababa University (AAU), Ethiopian Statistics Service, Ethiopian Policy Studies, Information Network Security Administration, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MinT), ADAMA Science and Technology University, Ethiopian Public Health Institute, and Private IT companies.

Three invited presenters made presentations and held discussions on selected topics. Temtim Assefa, (PhD) Associate Professor in the School of Information Science, Addis Ababa University made a welcoming remark. He stressed the importance of Open Data in multiple application areas ranging from good governance, climate change, Artificial Intelligence (AI), etc, and its benefits for the wider academic and business community. He appreciated the initiative taken by Open Knowledge Ethiopia and ACATECH Technology. He encouraged the participants to have a productive learning and sharing experience in the event.

Mr. Melkamu Beyene (PhD), from Open Knowledge Ethiopia, and the demonstrations were led by Mr. Aminu Mohammed and Mr. Teshome Alemu both from the School of Information Sciences, Addis Ababa University.  Melkamu Beyene introduced the activities and development of the Open Data movement in Ethiopia. He highlighted the reputation of Open Data and its correlation with AI. He also emphasised developments of the Open Data movement in Ethiopia and the success stories of Open Knowledge Ethiopia and ACATECH technology in relation to designing data-driven solutions.  He finally noted the expectations from the event and the way forward.

Mr. Aminu Mohammed presented on “Open Data to AI: Attempt in Agriculture Sector” in Ethiopia and demonstrated the Ethiopian Agriculture Data Hub that ACAECH Technology has been tasked to develop. The demonstration included how the HUB gathers data from disparate sources, integrates the harvested data into a unified view for data consumers, prepares data for analytics and reporting, manages data pipelines for a continuous flow of data from sources to the HUB, manages the complete infrastructure for the collection, processing, and storage of data.

The event was a hackathon that focused on engaging participants to provide engineering solutions collaboratively and rapidly, especially how to integrate AI components in the HUB to provide solutions to common showcases.

The second demonstration was carried out by Teshome Alemu. He presented three Open Data Driven AI projects. The systems were fake news detection and alert system, COVID-19 infodemic, and COVID-19 severity prediction. From the three systems, the ‘Fake news detection and alert system’ was demonstrated and participants gave valuable comments about how the system can be enhanced further.

Finally, the discussion was moderated by the workshop presenters and the participants raised a number of ideas during the discussions and forwarded questions for further clarification which were addressed by the presenters and also by other participants.   Some of the points raised in the discussion include:

  • Ministry stated that they have been finalising a draft national data sharing policy and data sharing act, and would be tabled to the Council of Ministers.
  • Different stakeholders shall have a standard/common platform for sharing/dissemination.
  • ICT policy and data governance policy shall be given attention equally with open data sharing.
  • The top management in sectorial ministries do not have comparable awareness as the professional staff and awareness creation programs should also be given to the top management too. 
  • Raw data collection should also be given due attention likewise for open data for the quality of data.

Acatech Technology PLC received a small grant to host Open Data Day(s) (ODD) events and activities.