Data for Africa: Open data portals listed and reviewed

What open data is out there? Where do you find it and what can you do with it? We review ten South African and African open data portals.

The Open Government Declaration, signed by 11 African states from 2011, states that ‘people all around the world are demanding more openness in government’. The African Development Bank says on its open data portal that “reliable data constitutes the single most convincing way of getting the people involved in what their leaders and institutions are doing.”

Open data is data that can be freely used and shared by anyone. The theory is that more open data means more transparency, and more transparency means a more accountable and better government. In Africa, some governments have committed to making their data open. But the Open Data Barometer puts African countries at the bottom of their rankings.

In many cases, the issue isn’t just openness — it’s that the data hasn’t been collected in the first place. Questions have also been raised about whether increased transparency is likely to lead to more accountability without more government commitment. As you can see from our review below, looking at what has been done so far, many of the open data portals are still difficult to navigate, especially on mobile phones which is how most people get online. As one African Union report puts it, we still need a data revolution in Africa.

So what South African and African open data is out there? How useful is it and where do you find it? This list is a work in progress. Please contribute and comment: What portals do you use or run? What portals do you “rate”? And which ones are just not worth the pixels/bandwidth? How have you used, or tried to use, open data?

Please share your experience and ideas in the comments below, directly via email to civictech@journalism.co.za , or join the discussions on our Facebook page.

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Data for Africa: Open data portals listed and reviewed


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Melissa Tsungai Zisengwe

 

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