A guest post by Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai.
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Research project: Taking Stock of the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Open Data Initiatives in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone, as a transitional country, has instituted several transparency and accountability mechanisms to avoid the re-occurrence of the conflicts witnessed in past decades. These transparency institutions and mechanisms span local governance, extractive industry transparency, public finance management, and the role of non-state actors. Common across these donor-driven initiatives is the importance of access to information and data. However, the effectiveness of these initiatives, and their successes or failures in getting access to, and using, key information and data, have rarely been explored. This case has assessed the open data landscape of Sierra Leone. It has examined how a country in transition can entrench transparency and accountability by instituting, at various levels of government, open government policies that allows for access to information and data and their proactive publication by public institutions. The project explored the challenges that have been faced in the implementation and uptake of existing open data policies, and how ways these challenges may be overcome in future.
Back in early 2013 the Society for Democratic Initiatives, Sierra Leone began a groundbreaking new research project as part of the Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC) research network. The project aims to assess the practicality of open data initiatives in post-conflict Sierra Leone and is one of 17 case studies in developing countries commissioned by the World Wide Web Foundation through a research grant from Canada’s International Development and Research Centre. The focus of the overall ODDC project has been on building a compendium of evidence on emerging open data impacts in developing countries. But in Sierra Leone it has also provided the opportunity for a major breakthrough in recognition of open data and its related issues in a country that which only knows Freedom Of Information as a tool of government openness.