A quick look at interesting civic tech open source tools in Africa
Speakers: Tricia Govindasamy and Isaiah Ngaruiya, Code for Africa
This session showcased open source tools created by civic tech organisations in Africa. The session drew on both insights of and experiences gained while working on civic tech solutions in this context. Tricia Govindasamy first defined ‘open source’ as anything that can be modified, shared and is publicly accessible. Open source software is software with a source code that anyone can inspect, modify and enhance, potentially strengthen data transparency and support knowledge sharing between organisations, government institutions and individuals who use open source tools.
Tricia and Isaiah described some exciting projects that Code for Africa is involved with across Africa that pioneer open source tools such as Gender Gap Africa, an online tool aiding tracking of inequality and income across Africa; Open Africa, an volunteer-run open data portal; Pesa Yetu an open source database that supports journalists, researchers and activists to gain country-specific data sets for Kenya; and Wazimap, a South African portal that “makes census data more accessible”.
The session also identified the problems open-source tools are trying to solve and highlighted how open-source software is used to build these tools. Overall, the session left attendees more knowledgeable about open-source tools and provided them with further resources to explore the world of open-source tools.