Open Development And Open Data: What Next?

Staff Writer | Development Initiatives | November 19, 2012

The Kenya Open Data Portal was launched by President Mwai Kibaki in July 2011, making Kenya the second country in Africa, after Morocco, to launch an open data portal and the first in sub-Saharan Africa. Those who crafted it wanted to see steps taken to improve governance and saw availability and access to data and vital development information as one way of achieving this. This was a major milestone for a country whose public sector has and is still shrouded in mystery and official secrecy. Since its launch KODI has become a beacon of hope for transparency, accountability and responsive government in the region. Slightly over a year since its establishment, however, new questions are being asked. First, KODI has demonstrated that a data portal is not an end in itself but that the quality, depth and utility of the data that are generated are perhaps more important.

There are other challenges as well. Existing official secrecy laws result in massive data hugging. Similarly, negative attitudes by some public officials threaten the very existence of KODI, according to a recent media interview by Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications (read here). [...]