Africa Open Data conference launched

Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

The African Open Data Conference scheduled to take place in Accra from July 17 to July 22, was yesterday launched in Accra, by the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful.

The theme of the conference is “Open data for Sustainable Development,” and about 1000 participants are expected in Accra, from across the globe, to deliberate on how to make data freely available for decision making.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful observed that Africa remains in the dark as data education was limited, stressing that the open data could promote development of businesses that develop applications using data.
“Researchers can use data to further research and journalists can use data to tell stories,” the minister added.

She said data would become the most important token as countries moved toward open society, saying companies would compete based on availability of competitive data token.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said there was evidence that many countries in west, south America and Asia took open data seriously and were creating smart cities driven by open data generated by the municipalities.

“Government officials are making decisions based on evidence through open data analysis and citizens are on the receiving side with applications like UK Crime Map, farmer support applications for weather and flood alert,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful added.

The minister said Ghana was one of the first countries in Africa to start an open data initiative in January 2012 when the late President J.E.A Mills, signed on to the Open Government Partnership but the implementation  had challenges including lack of open data policy and guidelines to ensure open data was a whole of government initiative.

Mrs Owusu-Ekudul  said that the ministry had initiated the data for development programme under the e-transform project since 2014, assuring that by 2019, Ghana would have open data community with lots of impact to show.

The acting Director General of National Information and Technology Agency, Jeffrey Konadu, expressed the hope that the conference would create the awareness on the need to adopt open data initiative for socioeconomic development.

The Deputy Minister of Communication, Vincent Sowah Odotei, who is the Chair of the Local Advisory Committee, said countries that were opened experienced exponential growth.

He expressed the hope that cultural barriers would not impede the journey toward a digital world.

Katherine Townsend, co-founder of the open data conference said there would be visits to individuals and entities engaged in generation of data to engage them on the open data initiative to raise the awareness.

The Senior Technical Adviser at the National Development Planning Commission, Mrs Grace Bediako said the commission was drafting the medium term development framework for 2018-2021 to replace the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda which would end in December.

By Salifu Abdul -Rahaman

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