An African Data Revolution for African Priorities

There has been a great deal of debate and dialogue on the data revolution. Regardless of the definition we arrive at, it is likely that the revolution will not wait for the post 2015 agenda to be agreed upon. The data revolution is already happening. Whereas access and use of government data was the preserve of bureaucrats for many years, in the recent past this data has made its way into the public domain as a matter of policy in a number of countries giving rise to a movement and an economy around open data. Opening up government data is now a hallmark of open government and one of the core ideas around which the Open Government Partnership has formed.

“It is important that the African Development Goals are adapted to measure progress on African priorities.”

Carlos Lopes, UNDP speaking at the launch of the Common Africa Position on Post 2015.

The Post2015 agenda attempts to create an agenda for the planet without the North-South dichotomy that characterized the narrative around the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, due to factors such as weak investments in science and technology or poor technology transfer mechanisms, conversations on defining the data revolution in Africa have tended to have a heavy “North” presence. If as Africans we do not leverage this opportunity to define the data revolution for ourselves based on our own priorities we may end up taking the short route and “importing” one with different priorities. This I believe will only ensure total failure and a weakened framework for the means of implementation of the new agenda.

Having said that, here’s my most recent piece on the Open Institute blog; The Data Revolution in Policy-making.