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A delegation of journalists from 12 French-speaking African countries attended the Open Government Partnership (OGP) summit, which took place in the Georgian capital Tbilisi from 17 to 19 July 2018. They all had the same objective: to draw inspiration from the event in order to promote Open Data in their respective countries.
Open Data in a few words
The term 'Open Data' means raw public data that is intended to be freely accessible to and reusable by all citizens. It represents a very useful form of raw material to journalists, who decipher, sort and popularise it.
Consequently, Open Data plays a part in making public initiatives even more transparent, encourages citizens to become actively involved, and forms a key element for promoting open governance.
Open Data in Africa
More and more countries in Africa are adopting, or have already adopted, laws governing people’s rights to access information,
"Open Data involves a notion of sharing."and national Open Data policies are now starting to take shape, despite there still being far too many cases of governments and public administrations being reluctant to publish their data.
“It’s now commonplace to see people demanding transparency and honesty from their governments whenever presidential elections are held in Africa”, says Fatima Alher, a Nigerian geographer and digital cartography consultant. “With Open Data, this concept will already be in place.”
"We’re living in an open world today, and it’s inconceivable for there to be any reluctant countries”, adds Amadou Sy, a journalist and mobile journalism trainer who works in Mauritania.
However, the participants in the Open Data Media 2 project are not losing hope. “There are countries in the OGP which were where we are now just a few years ago, and have made rapid progress. My aim this week is to meet the people who have played an active part, so that I can draw inspiration from them and shake up things in Guinea”, reveals Mamadou Alpha Diallo, a Guinean journalist and blogger.
When asked whether their efforts are bearing fruit, both Alpha and Amadou are unequivocal: “In Guinea, we have achieved visible results. The President of the Republic of Guinea has made it clear in a letter, which we have published, that he is seeking to join the OGP. Formal steps have been taken to set up a committee that will focus on Open Data. The government knows that we attended the summit, and things are moving in the right direction, if at times rather slowly, for our country to finally become a member of the OGP within the next few years.”
“In Mauritania, an ethics director in charge of Open Data in the country has just been appointed. Through him, and thanks to the collaborative initiatives that we’ll have rolled out, we’ll raise awareness not only amongst citizens and activists but also amongst the authorities and the various bodies making up the State apparatus.”
The OGP summit also gave the Open Data Médias 2 team the opportunity to discuss and share their experiences with around one hundred representatives from the attending countries. They will thus be able to draw from a number of innovative ideas for establishing a more open government and adapt them to the specific issues affecting Africa in the months ahead.