CAFDO: Abidjan 2019

 

CAFDO (Communauté Afrique Francophone des Données) is an association of representatives from 23 Francophone African countries that formed around the need for greater open data impact and awareness across French-speaking African countries. The organisation gave its name to a biennial conference, aimed at bringing together members of the community in order to further the open data agenda in the region. The 2019 event was the second of its kind, the first having been held in Ouagadougou in 2017.

The conference provided a platform to advance discussions on sub-regional initiatives, such as the Sahel Data Initiative (a project that GODAN has championed), and to advance plans for ministerial ratification of an open data declaration based upon the 2017 Nairobi declaration, which is due to be signed at the next high-level CILS country meeting in early 2020.

GODAN sent several partners to represent its community at the event – which was held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire from 17-19 December, 2019.

The theme of this second edition of the conference was “Open Data Principles in Action” - with a view to promoting and supporting open data and data re-use in the region. 

The main goals of the meeting were to:

  • Create political awareness and pressure around open data principles within ministries and public institutions;
  • Promote best practice for open data sharing and use; 
  • Identify common challenges and suggest solutions to encourage data sharing, helping build a stronger economy.

The event played host to a Mapathon and a Hackathon on the subject of official development assistance data.
The conference began with two important panel meetings. The first on the links between open data and economic development, and the second on the use of IITA data to encourage transparency in the use of development aid.

The following points were discussed and acknowledged:

  • The importance of government and business transparency, including how national revenue is both raised and spent – and how transparency leads invariably to increased efficiency
  • The importance of good governance, both in stimulating healthy public debate and a reducing corruption. Access to government data offers businesses, local authorities, media and individuals the opportunity to make better informed choices – which in turn can help governments improve upon policies and sectoral management.
  • Being able to freely access and use data is of great value to society and the economy as a whole.

The need for multilingual capacity building materials – for which CAFDO have indicated their support – was also discussed, alongside increased policy work in Francophone Africa and the ramifications for FDI in the region.

Two presentations took place later in the day on Open Data and the Open Data Readiness Assessment (ODRA), looking at practical applications and examples of open data use and government open data strategies.
There were many opportunities to learn and interact. The second day of the conference included a number of workshops on several topics including (but not limited to): Government partnerships, data technology, gender and open data, AI, data analysis… While, on the final day of the conference, a Datacamp was held, allowing participants to work together in groups on a simulated open data projects on such themes as government and education.

CAFDO helps to inform, and to enable open data actors across francophone Africa to improve their skills and knowledge in the sector, creating real opportunity for sustainable development through:

  • Sharing experiences.
  • Building action plans for increased data sharing across participating countries.
  • Identifying and beginning open data projects that respond to the specific needs of participating countries.

As GODAN Champion Mohamed Saleck, who attended on GODAN’s behalf put it: “ [CAFDO] allowed us to learn many useful lessons around open data, discover latest developments in the sector, get involved with local initiatives… It will allow us to speed up our open data action plan and help us identify new projects to put in place.”