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The Data Revolution: What is at stake for Africa?

 

From 27-29 March, 2015, hundreds of data advocates will gather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss the data revolution in Africa. As a precursor, on December 10, 2014 United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) hosted a panel discussion on “The Data Revolution: What is at stake for Africa? The panel discussed among other issues the need for a global consensus on open data principles, emerging impacts of open data, the need for data literacy for national statistics bureaus, the role of media in supporting open data initiatives and how national statistics bureaus could make use of big data produced not by official statistics offices but other platforms such as mobile telephony and building of infrastructure for such data revolution.

A panel discussion on data revolution during the 1st Joint Session of the Committee of Directors General of National Statistics Offices and the Statistical Commission for Africa: From right Mr Stefan Schweinfest, Mr Bill Anderson, Prof Pali Lehohla, Ms Clare Melamed, Ms Nnena Nwakanma and Mr Zacharia Chiliswa

A panel discussion on data revolution during the 1st Joint Session of the Committee of Directors General of National Statistics Offices and the Statistical Commission for Africa: From right Mr Stefan Schweinfest, Mr Bill Anderson, Prof Pali Lehohla, Ms Clare Melamed, Ms Nnena Nwakanma and Mr Zacharia Chiliswa

 

Of interest to open data groups and movements in Africa and other parts of global south is the keen interest the Statistical Commission for Africa (StatCom) has to see national statistics systems adopt open data principles that ensure data are available, accessible and usable to the wider public and possibly join open data movements.

 

The panel which included Mr Bill Anderson, Ms Nnena Nwakanma, Mr Stefan Schweinfest, Ms Clare Melamed, Prof Pali Lehohla and Mr Zacharia Chiliswa underscored the role of multi-sector approach in harnessing opportunities presented by data revolution to improve the scope of content, managing and giving out of data.

 

Several speakers during the conference recommended that national statistics bureaus to make data available to others through joining open data movement, improve mechanisms for collecting data particularly on agriculture sector, rural settlement, free movement of people, cross-border trade and integration of countries. Other issues that emerged included the need for countries to develop frameworks to get agricultural data and food security, call for great application of ICT in data revolution, and harnessing the potentials of ICT in helping to create digital farms identification system. AU was encouraged to support the development of Africa integration index - a framework that would enable African countries to evaluate their regional integration. 

 

The conference which brought together representatives from governments, private sector, civil society organizations, academia and international agencies was the 1stJoint Session of the Committee of Directors General of National Statistics Offices and the Statistical Commission for Africa. We look forward to building on the discussion in Addis.

 

Please contact Zacharia Chiliswa (programmes@jesuithakimani.org) for more information.