Breaking Borders: The #OpenData Party in Accra Ghana
In the last series of our advocacy on Open Data through capacity building, we finally had a data clinic session at the Asa Royal Hotel in Accra, Ghana on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 a coincidence with the International Anticorruption Day, and CSOs in Accra Ghana weren’t left out. Why did we try taking this gospel to Ghana? We had enjoyed close collaboration and relationship with start ups and NGOs in Ghana, and for them, one of the drawbacks in finding data is the unavailability of a freedom of information act, or the access to information act.
Just like we have seen in Nigeria, NGOs and activist seem not familiar with data pipelines or what we refer to as the data management processes, likewise basic tools that can be used in analyzing data. Unlike Nigeria, the transparency and accountability [T&A] movement in Ghana is coordinated under the STARGHANA project. Thus creating an ecosystem of groups working in the T&A component of the Open Data movement. “Two years ago, I was part of a team that initiated the SMS reporting on service delivery in the health sector, however, I am not sure how much the system is working anymore” explained Joseph Senyo, National Director of Programmes, Community and Family Aid Foundation
While going through finding data, it was interesting to know that Nigeria has more datasets available online than Ghana, as most of the participants couldn’t figure out where to find the budget data of the country, although some mentioned the ministry of finance, but surprisingly we couldn’t get budget data from this website. Nevertheless, the country national statistics online portal is a one – stop shop for datasets in the country, and only one of the participants knew this existed. Analyzing using Microsoft Excel, and Google Spreadsheets was an eye – opener for participants, as most of them requested to know how this can be applicable in their various works.
While it was important to drive this conversation forward, outside the training sessions, the participants were already thinking about a 3 –day event that could bring together government, NGOs and other activist in the coming year. But, our trip to Accra would not have been complete without taking some time at the iSpace (it was a women in technology day, and we had ladies) and the LaBadi Beach – it is known that trainings can also be complemented with ice breakers on the beach – and same we did, and fortunately for us – it was the reggae night.
“We would have like to have more days of training, as the little minutes I spent was quite educative, especially the use of analysis tools, thus making me to know how important data is to my various monitoring and evaluation work” said Mensah Ileom of Inspire Africa. Actually, I have seen more NGO participants looking towards how data gathering can also help them in monitoring and evaluation, aside using it for advocacy, and monitoring service delivery.