On 4  March 2023, Fablab Winam organised the Open Data Day at Rosemary Hotel, Kamas, Kisumu, where 30 participants joined the event. The objective of the event was to introduce modern technology in local manufacturing optimisation and transformation using open data to AI. The event approach had greater challenges, especially since we were working with a unique group of people considered to be informal and semi-literate.

Since we had previously designed our project using meetups called Gumzo workshops, we realised that our target group can only be met within their workstations, we adapted that to all our activities and it works well. For this Open Data Day event, we focused on the following areas; 

  1. Quality control, process optimisation, and product customisation 
  2. Production automation and robotics 
  3. Inventory management and supply chain

The topic of quality control, process optimisation, and product customisation was handled by Peter Otieno who discussed some of the challenges in production that can be easily eliminated by the adoption of AI. Since a lot of work in this sector is still manual, lots of the participants were finding difficulty in relating this information. Not so many questions came up except for product customisation.

In the second session, the use of robotics was discussed with examples in warehousing and other serious production lines where robotic arms have improved efficiency and reduced human involvement. This was easy to understand when the facilitator gave the example of the COVID-19 situation where human contacts were minimised and deployment of such was so important.

On Inventory management and supply chain, the presenter educated the participants on ways in which digitisation is inevitable and even the small informal sectors will be forced to embrace technology to survive. Giving examples of business registration services in Kenya where all services have been put online and one just needs to have an e-citizen account in order to register their company and make payment through Mpesa. Peter discussed how big suppliers are already able to monitor the flow of their goods, and study market partners and customer behaviours in business. He added that there is a need for a greater understanding of the use of data where currently advertisers can know using AI what interest one and to direct relevant adverts. He encouraged the participants that we need to hold more such learning sessions so that slowly they can start understanding and using the available options. Peter also explained the ways in which the taxman uses the available data in social media and other relevant sources to find the tax evaders.

There was also a discussion on government opportunities for youths under what is known as AGPO (Access to Government Procurement Opportunities). This topic was interesting to the participants since access to Government tenders has been a preserve of the few in Kenya. Each of the speakers underscored the need to ensure data protection laws but also encourage enriching the access of open data so that many other users can take advantage of them for the good course.

The participants realised that there is a lot of information gap that needs to be bridged and also said that the topic was a bit difficult and needs time for understanding but appreciated it as an eye-opener to the most ignored sector.

Fablab Winam received a small grant to host Open Data Day(s) (ODD) events and activities.