Evaluation of the Open Data Media 2 project

February 5, 2020

Between August 2017 and December 2018, CFI provided training to some 20 journalists and CSO members from French-speaking Africa specialising in citizen use of new technologies and the use of tools to exploit open data, especially for journalistic purposes.

On completion of the project, an independent evaluation was conducted by NomadGreen.
Here we provide an overview of the results.

Open Data Medias 2 follows in the footsteps of Open Data Médias. a short project carried out between September and December 2016 aimed at contributing to the development of citizen capabilities with a view to using open data as a tool for monitoring public policies. After receiving training in open data, participants attended master classes, a hackathon and the Open Government Partnership Summit (OGP) held in Paris in December 2016.
Open Data Media 1 made its mark by closely reflecting the key issues raised by open government principles and by the positive response to the project at the Summit. For CFI, the natural next step was to extend the initiative and develop it further by undertaking a larger-scale project over a longer period.

A comprehensive approach complete with high-level technical training

Open Data Medias 2 follows in the footsteps of projects already undertaken by CFI in Africa in the field of online media and digital innovation (Innovate Africa, Naila, Citizen Connections, etc.) as well as other projects initiated in the area of citizenship and the promotion of citizen participation in public debate.

This ambitious project was conducted CFI favoured a novel and comprehensive approach over a period of 17 months, from August 2017 to December 2018, with the agency providing training to 19 people from 13 different countries across francophone sub-Saharan Africa. In doing so, CFI favoured a novel and comprehensive approach to open data issues by offering a wide range of high-level and relatively technical training courses.
With a budget of €410,000, the project was entirely self-funded – an indication of its importance to the agency.

Open Data Medias 2 should be seen as another building block in the edifice built by CFI since 2016 around open data. The potential of open data to encourage public participation in public policy debates is well known, underlining both the rationale and the relevance of CFI’s work in this area. Indeed, the agency’s successive initiatives are designed to be complementary, enabling young volunteers and activists to become true open data professionals – in other words, professionals capable of advocating in ways that have a real impact and of bringing about change within their societies with a view to achieving greater democracy and transparency and to improving governance.

A new community of open data professionals

During the Open Data Medias 2, participants were provided with a wide range of tools to find, identify and exploit data to develop advocacy messages – a set of key techniques taught as part of extended training courses with the aim of ensuring mastery of a sometimes challenging subject requiring a degree of technical agility.
The project has had a definite impact, and CFI can now claim to have helped develop a real community of open data professionals who, though they have yet to reach full ‘maturity’, are clearly seen by the media as experts in their area. Their attendance at numerous training courses and conferences, both nationally and internationally, proves how quickly they have become references in the field of open data.

Open Data Media is an innovative initiative, with each new version of the project seeing changes and developments. Its second edition is not yet perfect. Adjustments are needed to ensure future iterations are more efficient and effective. Improvements could be made to the programme, coordination and schedule of the project to give it a more practical focus while reducing the amount of theory.
A potential future project could also place more emphasis on the production of advocacy messages, a real gap identified and underlined by media outlets and NGOs alike.