Open Data Day celebrated in Nairobi, 2 March 2019

Contribution by Allan Ochola

International Open Data Day (IODD) is an annual celebration of open data all over the world and March 2nd, 2019 was the 9th time in history during which various groups organised events. Kenya was no exception. The Kenya event was attended by graduate students from various universities, industry experts and representatives from academia. Two confirmed speakers sent a last minute cancellation and could not be replaced in time.

Event speakers
Allan Ochola (graduate student, Kenyatta University) and Janegrace Kinyanjui (University librarian, Egerton University)

The topics discussed included the role of libraries in promoting open access/ open data, opportunities available in open data and how to practice open data. The unique nature of the event enabled participants from various interdisciplinary backgrounds to define strategies that advance open data globally and locally, and learn about recent advances in open data.

The format of the event allowed for peer discussions by the participants. Discussions focussed on sources of open data, data interoperability, data timeliness, data ownership, data privacy and confidentiality, incentives for sharing data including a revival of the Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI). Another discussion was on “why many open data initiatives are drives to open government data”. Another challenge is private sector actors who are increasingly locking away what they and many consider to be ‘their’ data.

Future directions
Notwithstanding, there is a lot of interest in creating an environment that facilitates effective sharing and re-use. Participants’ feedback revealed that there is little awareness on open data among the public due to the lack of an open culture and processes that are not user responsive. Not surprisingly, key data sets to support the open data evangelism (e.g. data on cancer and maternal mortality) are largely absent as open data.
Therefore, there is a need:
 To develop and organize training workshops for open advocates.
 Promote exchange of ideas among different stakeholders.
 Establish connectivity of open advocates and strategic partners.
 Open landscape in Kenyan Universities: awareness creation and infrastructure development.

Committee on Data of the International Council for Science (CODATA), Africa Open Science Platform (AOSP), Kenya Education Network and Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) communities who helped to spread information about the event on their platforms.

This event was supported by the United States of America Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya


Other Open Data Day Events

Presentations during Open data Day at the University of Cape Town

UP embracing the 4IR