3 September 2015

Africa: Conference Places Open Data At Center of Development Agenda

press release

Dar es Salaam — ore than 400 representatives from government, academia, private industry, civil society, and international organizations have gathered in Dar es Salaam for a two-day conference to share experiences and best practices to promote the production and utilization of open data in Africa, and increase its potential development impact on the continent.

"Transparency, openness and accountability are critical for both the Government and the people because when the Government is open, the people know what is going on, they can hold their Government accountable, and the Government has the urge to deliver," noted His Excellency, The President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.

To mark the official opening of the Africa Open Data Conference, which is jointly organized by the Government of Tanzania and the World Bank, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania will deliver a keynote addressing the importance of open data for development in Africa to participants from over 30 countries.

"Open data" is data provided without charge and with open access to the public, which can be freely used, reused, and redistributed. Tanzania was the first African country to apply the new Open Data Readiness Assessment methodology in June 2013 and since then, other African countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, and Ethiopia, have also embarked upon their own open data initiatives. In March 2015, several African countries gathered to sign the Africa Data Consensus to uphold the principles of official statistics as well as openness.

Building on this momentum, the Africa Open Data conference provides an opportunity for participants to share their practical experience with open data initiatives across African countries, further develop applications for citizen participation, and improve the monitoring of government activities and service delivery. Experts will also share their strategies for open data as a boost to private sector growth, jobs, and innovation.

To support these efforts, a pre-conference program offered workshops and technical training sessions on a variety of topics, including a data skills crash course and an open data master class.

"In many parts of the world, open government and open data have had a transformative impact on economic growth, job creation, and the way citizens interact with their government, and it is exciting to see the same potential being realized here in Tanzania," said Bella Bird, the World Bank Country Director. "This gathering represents an excellent opportunity to bring together a community of open data experts to develop innovative approaches to development outcomes on the continent."

The World Bank, through its Information and Communication Technologies as well as Governance Global Practices, is fully engaged in supporting countries around the world to harness the potential of open data for reducing poverty and boosting prosperity, as well as meeting the new sustainable development goals to be approved by the United Nations in September 2015.

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