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SNI 2016: ICT and Open Data for Sustainable Development

Malick Lingani - November 23, 2016 in Data Blog, Fellowship

The National ICT Week (SNI) is an annual event in Burkina Faso dedicated to promote ICT. Each year, thousands of people are introduced to the basics of operating computers; impactful ICT initiatives are also rewarded by a host of prizes. This year’s event, the 12th edition, was hosted by the Ministry of Digital Economy from May 31st to June 4th with the theme of ICT and sustainable development.

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The panelists of the conference

The Burkina Open Data Initiative (BODI) was represented by its Deputy Manager, Mr. Malick Tapsoba. He gave an introductory speech that gave the audience a general idea as to what open data is about. He then continued by presenting some of the key accomplishments of BODI so far:

  • NENDO, a web application developed with data on education available on the Burkina Faso open data portal, was presented as an example of how open data can be used to boost accountability in education systems

  • the GIS data collected on drinkable water wells has become a key decision-making tool toward the achievement of ‘Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: ‘Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.’

  • The open election project: a web platform that allowed the visualization of both the 2015 presidential and legislative election results. The visualizations were created almost in real-time, as fast as the data was released by the electoral commission. This project, initiated by BODI, has strongly contributed to the acceptance of the election’s results by all contenders.

Some ongoing projects of BODI were also presented:

  • Open Data and government procurement tracking project. This project aims to improve transparency in the government’s budget spending and to unlock opportunities for enterprises based on market competition.

  • Open Data to monitor both foreign funds and domestic funds: “When the data are not available and open, how can we measure progress toward Sustainable Development Goals?”, said Mr. Tapsoba.

Mr. Tapsoba also announced that a hackathon had been organised to showcase the use of open data and that the results would be revealed at the closing ceremony of SNI. One participant, a student who took part in the hackathon, called for more initiatives like these. He said that he strongly appreciated the way hackathons allow programmers and non-programmers to work together to build data applications and, for him, this helps to demystify ICT in general.

Mr. Sonde Amadou, CEO of Dunya Technology and one of the panelists, spoke about Smart Cities: African cities are growing fast, he said, and Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, is one of them. But Open GIS Data, he continued, is a stumbling block for Smart Cities and work is needed in this area.

Dr. Moumini Savadogo, IUCN Head Country Programme, talked about the IUCN Red List of threatened, critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable species in Africa. This list helps raise awareness and encourages better informed decisions for the conservation of nature, something critical for sustainable development.

The 400 participants of the conference were well served and I was confident that most of them can now be considered as open data advocates. As a School of Data Fellow, I made sure to speak after the panelists, pointing out the importance of strong institutions supported by transparency and accountability (SDG 16) for achieving the 2030 agenda in general. So I encouraged the audience to take a look at Open Data portals, notably BODI and EITI, for transparency in the extractive industry, including the environmental impact. I also mentioned the GODAN initiative for SDG 02 and called the panelist Malick Tapsoba to develop more on that. The open data community of Burkina Faso has made that day one more step on its journey towards building a stronger open data community and data literacy advocates.


Infobox
Event name: SNI 2016: ICT and Open Data for Sustainable Development
Event type: Conference
Event theme: ICT and Open Data for Sustainable Development
Description: The conference part of Burkina Faso’s National ICT Week (SNI) purpose was to showcase the role of ICT and Open Data to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The conference was designed to bring together ICT Specialists, Academia and Open Data activists to explore and learn about Sustainable development Goals and how ICT and Open Data can contribute to that Agenda
Speakers: Pr. Jean Couldiaty (University of Ouagadougou) Facilitator, Mr. SONDE Amadou (CEO of Dunya Technology), Mr. Malick Tapsoba (BODI Deputy Manager), Dr. Moumini SAVADOGO (IUCN Head Country Programme)
Partners: Burkina Faso Ministry of Digital Economy, Burkina Faso Open Data Initiative (BODI), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), University of Ouagadougou
Location: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Date: May 31st 2016
Audience: ICT specialists, Open Data and Data Literacy enthusiasts, Students, Journalists
Number of attendees 400
Gender split: 60% men, 40% women
Duration: 1 day
Link to the event website: http://www.sni.bf

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Understanding the extractives data community in Burkina Faso

Malick Lingani - November 15, 2016 in Data Blog, Fellowship

As a 2016 School of Data Fellow, my focus area of work is Extractives Data and I work with NRGI to advance data literacy in that sector in Africa, particularly in Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso is experiencing a mining boom mainly due to the exploitation of gold. With a production of 5.6 tons of gold in 2008, Burkina Faso rose to 36.5 tons of gold exported in 2015 and the projection for 2016 is about 39.6 tons. In terms of revenues, in 2015, the share of mining in budgetary revenues was estimated at about 170 billion CFA francs (about $280 million). This represents a major development challenge for the country and in particular for the local communities around mining sites. Work to monitor and inform communities on these issues is of paramount importance and it is necessary to see the actors involved in that work.

So, a good starting point was to map the community around Extractives Data in Burkina Faso. From May 26th to July 12th 2016, I was able to achieve a clear understanding of who is involved in what and the challenges they face.

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Burkina Faso main Civil Society Organizations Coalition (SPONG) Annual Assembly

The open data and Extractives community can be split into 3 categories: Government bodies and Institutes, media and individual data journalists, and Civil Society Organisations.

Government bodies and Institutes

The two main relevant government institutions are the Information and Communication Technology Promotion National Agency (ANPTIC), which leads the Open Data community in Burkina Faso along with the Burkina Open Data initiative (BODI). There are also Institutes such as the National Institute of Statistics and Demography (INSD), the Research Institute for Development (IRD) and the Institute of Science of Population (ISSP), which undertake many socio-economic studies on the impact of mining in Burkina Faso. These Government bodies and Institutes are regularly invited by the ANPTIC to meet, in order to strengthen their relationship and encourage them to open the data in their possession.

Media

The media play a key role in covering all events related to extractives. But their work doesn’t stop there. Some media organisations are even performing in-depth analysis of data to fully inform the country’s citizens. Among the Burkinabe investigative journalists, known for their sharp insights on political issues, some took the decision to follow socio-economic courses, with the aim of becoming better armed for achieving transparency and fighting corruption. The gold mining sector, in particular, is a regular subject of investigation.

Lefaso.net, Burkina24, the blog “Le blog sam la touch” (which features all hot subjects in Burkina Faso), l’Indépendant, l’Économiste du Faso (the first economic weekly journal of Burkina Faso), l’Évènement (a monthly newspaper), and Le Pays are major media actors. Individual data journalists, specifically Justin Yarga and Stella Nana, are among those that are shaking the web with interesting insights around Extractives.

Their main data sources are research institutes and some field surveys and some of the journalists use the EITI data portal to communicate their findings.

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)

The main CSOs involved in Extractives Data are:

  • Chambre des mines” (CMB), a non-profit organization representing the mining private sector. CMB collects economic and environmental data from the mining companies;

  • EITI Burkina Faso. When it comes to advancing Open Data in Extractives, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), supported by the World Bank Group through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), is a central actor. Burkina Faso* *produces annual EITI reports that disclose the production and revenue of the extractive industries. The latest report published is from 2013;

  • Open Burkina is a young organization of activists that are active in Burkina Faso’s Open Data community;

  • Open Street Map Burkina is concerned about the spatial distribution of the mining sites;

  • BEOG NEERE, an NGO working for human rights, transparency and accountability has conducted studies on gold mining and child labour in Burkina Faso;

  • Diakonia, Oxfam, Plan Burkina, SOS Sahel International Burkina Faso are major International NGOs that are interested in the social, economic and environmental impact of mining;

  • Publish what you pay – Burkina Faso“. Publish What You Pay is a coalition of CSOs working for transparency and accountability, advocating at the policy level for people to get the most benefit of the flourishing mining sector;

  • ORCADE (Organization for the Reinforcement of Development Capacity) is also advocating at the policy level for open contracts and for the adoption of a mining code that is beneficial to local communities.

Data availability and trainings as the main challenge

Several events gather the community through the year. I have been fortunate enough to attend some of this year’s major events:

  • SEMICA, I attended the SEMICA (the annual gathering of actors involved in mining and energy), held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso from May 26th to May 28th.

  • The SNI, (the National ICT Week) which took place in Ouagadougou from 31st of May to the 4th of June, was also a great place to meet journalists and data journalists interested in mining and sustainable development.

  • The 3rd event I attended was the General Assembly of SPONG (the main coalition of Civil Society Organizations in Burkina Faso) held in Ouagadougou the 31st of May.

I use these opportunities to administer questionnaires to the people I met at these events, in order to get some insight into their relationship with other actors in the field, the challenges they face in their work and their needs.

As revealed by the answers to the questionnaire, the main challenge of this otherwise vibrant community is still to get companies to release data. Building a strong relationship among community members has helped overcome this issue. “We are facing difficulties to convince data producers to shake things up. But we take it more as a challenge :-)”, said Idriss Tinto, technical manager at BODI. Mr Tinto continued by pointing to the need of more funds to overcome that challenge.

Capacity building is also one the recurrent needs expressed by members of the community. “Getting more access to data and a more tailored and complete training on data processing and data analysis are the main needs”; said Abdou Zouré, Editor-in-chief at Burkina24. Inna Guenda-Segueda, communication manager at CMB, pointed to the need of training on the process to collect data as disaggregated as possible from mining companies. Hence, specific trainings on the data pipeline are needed to support both data journalists and Civil Society Organizations.

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The state of Open Data in Burkina Faso

Malick Lingani - November 5, 2016 in Data Blog, Fellowship

The Open Data Community

The Burkina Open Data Initiative (BODI), set by the National Agency for the Promotion of ICT (ANPTIC), leads the open data community in Burkina Faso. Created in 2013, BODI has undertaken many activities, including building a strong community of local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Government Bodies and International Organizations. The Open Data Portal is also one of BODI’s key achievements. At the present time, nearly 200 data sets have been released.

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Workshop at ANPTIC headquarters for the development of the NENDO Application

To engage more people around the Open Data Initiative, BODI organises workshops and conferences in order to strengthen its partnerships with relevant stakeholders.

Education data as a starting point

In fact, data on Education has been released in partnership with the Ministry of Education, but also with the partnership of local communities. The whole process started in April 2014, in the coworking space Jokkolabs, with a workshop with Government bodies, the National Agency of Statistics and Demography, The World Bank, OpenStreetMap Burkina and many NGOs.

The Education dataset serves also as a case study for BODI to showcase the benefits of Open Data. For instance, a Web Application called NENDO is being developed. The NENDO Application shows a multilayer digital map of primary schools and kindergartens with their characteristics. CSOs like Open Burkina, BEOG NEERE, JokkoLabs, OuagaLab and also the Ministry of Education were associated in the Development of NENDO through a series of workshops and bootcamps organised at ANPTIC headquarters.

Recently, always with the spirit of inclusiveness, BODI approached the Agriculture, Water and Environment Sectors. A workshop was conducted on December 2015, with the participation of relevant stakeholders of the above sectors, including IRC Wash, the Ministries in charge of Agriculture, Water, Environment, and their respective specialised bodies. The aim was to present the work already achieved in releasing data regarding drinkable water wells. Malick Tapsoba, Deputy Manager of BODI, encouraged the ministries to release more data in their possession, in order to better inform decisions at all stages and trigger innovation for the benefit of all.The World Bank is the main funder of all the initiatives cited above.

Events and conferences as additional initiatives

Some other BODI initiatives were the 2016 Open Data Day, co-organised with Open Knowledge International (OKI) Burkina Faso, and the NGO BEOG NEERE. Open Street Map (OSM), Open Burkina, Geek Developers Network (GDN) and the Fablab Ouagalab were also present on March 5th 2016.

The academic world cannot be left behind, so a series of conferences were held in the three major universities of the country with the theme “Open Data and Academia: Challenges and Opportunities”. The University Aube Nouvelle hosted its conference on April 13th, followed one week later by the University of Bobo Dioulasso and by the University of Ouagadougou on April 28th.

Some media, mainly online media like Burkina24 and LeFaso.net, are always associated with BODI activities. These media are not only covering BODI’s events but they are participating as key data practitioners for the eclosion of a stronger data journalism community. In fact, data journalism trainings are organised for media, including bloggers, by the ANPTIC and BODI’s team.

All these conferences and workshops have helped build and strengthen a diversified community around open data in Burkina Faso but some major work remains to be done. For instance, for Extractives Data, a parallel open data community for Extractives has emerged around EITI Burkina Faso and the Burkina Chamber of Mines (CMB). I see my School of Data Fellowship as a huge opportunity to link those communities. In the next article, I will look at the Open Data and Extractives community in Burkina Faso.

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Feedback from the 2016 Summer Camp: Malick

Malick Lingani - August 6, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

From May 15th to 21st, 40 people from 24 countries gathered at Ibúina in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the 2016 School of Data Summer Camp. Malick Lingani, a 2016 School of Data Fellow from Burkina Faso, shares his thoughts about the event.

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Photo: Hill climbing by the Campers, a good way to start the day

Summer Camp is the beginning of the eight-month School of Data Fellowship, where new members of the family learn from elders and work to set the goals that will govern their work in the coming months. In a private residence at Ibúina, Sao Paulo, the new data explorers found an ideal environment in which to stimulate their brains. The location was relatively quiet and entirely green, in the middle of Amazonia and next to a lake where Escola de Dados (School of Data in Portuguese) welcomed us. Despite the limited internet connection, I will say the continuous flow of great Brazilian cuisine, prepared by the most humble chefs, definitely made the camp a success. Before getting into the nitty-gritty, it is appropriate to present School of Data.

School of Data: what is it?

School of Data is a project of Open Knowledge International, launched in May 2012, which aims to empower civil society by teaching the skills necessary to use open data. The project was birthed on the fact that civil society (citizens, NGOs, journalists, associations, etc.) could greatly benefit from the power of open data but lack the skills needed to understand, analyze and utilise it effectively.

What happens at Summer Camp?

A typical day at Summer Camp began at 9:00 AM, after breakfast, with a gathering next to the lake called “opening circle”, a session designed to provide an overview of the day’s objectives. Dirk Slater, Summer Camp facilitator, lead this session in a pretty relaxed way, just to put everyone at ease and encourage the participation of all:

“What is the first thing you will do once you are back home?” – Dirk; and Kabu replied: “Find my cousin and have fun”. (Laughs…) it was on day 5; just imagine?

After the Opening Circle, participants dispersed to either the “Governance Track” or the “Fellowship Track.” The Governance Track gathered mentors who have the task to work on the governance of the organization, make last year’s review, set new goals and elect the new Steering Committee. I participated in the Fellowship Track in which we worked to set our fellowship objectives.

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Photo: Paul explaining his objectives to other Fellows and mentors

Overall, each of the Fellows will work to promote the use of data by journalists, CSOs and other interested parties by communicating and organizing training sessions, and also by producing online training modules, tutorials and blog posts. In doing this exercise, we were also assisted by experts in the topic in which we will be promoting the use of data. To recap, the topics for this year are: extractives, health, ethical uses of data, data journalism and gender issues.

In a second step, we worked to determine the tasks and scheduled them in order to achieve our objectives. Here, David reminded us that we have just 10 days a month for our Fellowship work and, because of this, we should avoid scheduling important activities successively, in one month.

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Photo: Cédric Lombion commenting on our programmes

Topic experts also assisted us in this phase. My topic is Extractives and Katarina from Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) helped me identify workshops and conferences in which I could participate as a Trainer or Speaker.

During the afternoon, we shared our experiences of data-literacy activities. Every day, 2 sessions were held during which 5 workshops were ran simultaneously. I learned some socio-economic and environmental analyzes on EITI data of some African countries. Katarina facilitated this session.

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Photo: Katarina presenting some analyses from Extractives data

Many other sessions have hugely enriched me during the five days of Summer Camp. Among others, there were:

  • ‘How to sell ideas?’ by Nika Aleksejeva,

  • ‘Introduction to Tableau’, by Daniel Villatoro,

  • ‘What visualization for what purpose?’, by Dirk Slater and

  • ’How to mobilize data journalists in Turkey’ by Pinar Dag.

(The Data Literacy Pipeline I found on a wall, by accident).

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Photo: Data Literacy Pipeline

Around 7:00 p.m., came the “Closing circle”, a moment to make a brief review of the day. Dirk asked everyone to give their most remarkable experience of the day, including the difficulties they may have encountered. The ‘Closing Circle’, is also the moment when surprise announcements are made. I remember particularly when Marco announced on May 20th that we will have a party that night. Samba, Tango and Salsa were the highlights of the dancefloor. Yes, that’s also part of the SCODA Camp (School of Data Camp). Another flagship announcement was the program of the Conference of Data Journalism of Brazil, to be held on May 21st.


The #CODA-BR: The Conference of Data Journalism of Brazil

On the evening of May 20th, we left the camp, the green paradise. Three hour drive to reach the metropolitan city, Sao Paulo. We alight with our suitcases in the center of this city, which is the symbol of the emergence of Brazil. Our friends from Escola de Dados carefully arranged everything. On May 21st from 9:00 a.m, we were gratified with a rich and memorable conference. Experiences of data journalism in Brazil and Latin America were shared in plenary sessions.

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Photo: Juan presenting data journalism experiences from Latin America.

Afterwards, various workshops took place, focused on data processing tools and techniques, data analysis and visualization. Analysis of data with Google’s tools, encryption and digital security for journalists, data visualization with d3.js, introduction to R and Python for journalists and OpenRefine for fast data processing were among other sessions not to miss.

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Photo: Data analysis for journalists with Google tools by Marco.

I left the Summer Camp filled with confidence that our contribution, as modest as it may be, to a more “Data-Literate” world will spread like wildfire. I must give back this knowledge to my community as prescribed. So, it is with pleasure that I will work with journalists, CSOs, students and researchers to advance Data Literacy back home.

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