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Open Data Day 2019: open science events in Benin and Cameroon

- March 21, 2019 in benin, cameroon, Open Data Day, open data day 2019, Open Science

This report is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2019. On Saturday 2nd March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. AfricArxiv and APSOHA received funding through the mini-grant scheme by the Frictionless Data for Reproducible Research project, to organise events under the Open Science theme. This is a joint report produced by Justin Sègbédji Ahinon and Yves Valery Obame: their biographies are included at the bottom of this post.

Open Data Day 2019 Cotonou, Benin

On Saturday, March 9, 2019, Open Data Day Cotonou took place at the Blolab in Cotonou, jointly organized by AfricArxiv and the Waziup Iot Clubs. Open Data Day is an annual celebration of open data around the world. The main organizer of this event on a global scale is Open Knowledge International, a global non-profit organization whose purpose is to foster and encourage the use of open data to solve societal problems. Open Data Day is in 2019 at its ninth edition, and the themes selected this year are:
  • Open science
  • Monitoring the flow of public funds
  • Open mapping
  • Data for equal development
For the Cotonou edition, the main theme chosen for the discussions was that of open science. The main objective is to raise public awareness of the importance of open science and open data for Benin and Francophone Africa in general and of open access publishing. With about twenty participants and three speakers, many topics related to open in general were discussed. These include open science in Francophone Africa, open educational resources, open data and citizenship. The various speakers during the day were people who were experts in open science and open data, which made the discussions all the more interesting and at the same time stimulated public participation.   These are the themes of the different discussions of the day as well as their speakers:
  • Open Science: Introduction, State of Play and Participation in Francophone Africa
    • Justin Sègbédji Ahinon: WordPress developer, co-founder of AfricArxiv
  • Open Data Promotion in Benin: what is the role of citizens?
    • Maurice Thantan: Web Journalist, President of the Association of Bloggers of Benin
  • Open Educational Resources and Use Cases
    • Franck Kouyami: Systems and Networks Engineer, Technical Officer of the Cotonou Francophone Digital Campus and Chair of the Benin Internet Governance Forum
  • Round table: #OpenScience, #CivicTech, State of play in Francophone Africa
    • Justin Ahinon, Maurice Thantan, Franck Kouyami

Open Data Day 2019 Yaoundé, Cameroon

In fellowship with international actors for Openness, The Cameroon Laboratory for Research on Contemporary Societies (CERESC) in partnership with APSOHA and the OER-Cameroon Association, organized a conference on “Discovering infinite wealth of open data in scientific research” with the objectives of: sensitizing researchers at the University of Yaoundé I to adopt best practices of open research data; sensitize and socialize the Cameroonian scientific community to the concept of Open Data. Open Data, which was at the center of the exchanges, are data to which the access is completely public and free of right, in the same way as their exploitation and reuse. In Cameroon, Open Science and its components (open data, open access, open education …) is not yet widespread and renowned in academic circles because of weak communication and a lack of activities related to open science. Cameroonian researchers and students are therefore not always well informed of the opportunities and benefits they can derive from embracing this movement. The celebration of Open Data Day 2019 was therefore a good opportunity to continue to sensitize the research community of State Universities in general and those of the University of Yaoundé I in particular of the importance to adhere to this worldwide movement. The focus of this day’s work was sharing the experience of the National Institute of Statistics (INS), a government agency that hosts a project and Open Data database. This sharing of experience, through hands-on access to this database, allowed over 80 participants to see the benefits of open data to researchers. The majority of participants was not even aware of the existence of such a database available and opens for their research and that they themselves could supply. Challenges for the implementation of open data in academia in Cameroon remain numerous: the indifference of decision-makers, the absence of openness-friendly research policies, the glaring lack of digital infrastructures, the lack of literacy among decision-makers and researchers are a few. The very rich exchanges between participants and speakers of this conference made it possible to take the measure of these difficulties and gravities and the measures to face them. The flagship resolutions at the end of the work were to build, with external partners, an open access digital database portal for research, and to draft an Open Science policy for the University of Yaoundé I. The complete report is available at www.ceresc.org

Biographies

Justin Sègbédji Ahinon is a WordPress developer with a background in applied statistics. He is strongly interested in open access issues in Africa as well as in the dissemination of knowledge and the means by which it is carried out on the continent. He is a fellow and recently a mentor of the Open Leaders program of the Mozilla Foundation. Yves Valery Obame is a teacher in the Government Teacher’s Training College (GTTC) in Cameroon, member of Cameroon Laboratory for Research on Contemporary Societies (CERESC) of the University of Yaoundé I and a Ph. D candidate in Sociology. Founder of OER-Cameroon (@oer_cameroon), an open movement devoted to raising awareness and promoting the use of open educational resources in Higher and Secondary Education in Cameroon. He discovered the open perspectives (Access, Education, Data, Science) quite recently but its vision and objectives are in line with this work of awareness, through his teachings, that he leads and shares with his students in Cameroon and developing countries on the need for equal, justice and free access to knowledge. He is equally involved, with APSOHA, in advocacy work in the academic milieu.

Open Government and Open Contracting in Paraguay and Cameroon

- May 14, 2018 in cameroon, Follow the Money, Open Contracting, Open Data Day, open data day 2018, Paraguay

This blog was written by Rodrigo Valdez (Girolabs) and Transparency International Cameroon. This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The events in this blog were supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Follow the Money theme.

Open Data Day #Unconference Asunción 2018

On March 3, along with other hundreds of cities, we celebrated Open Data Day in Asunción, Paraguay. For the third year in a row, the Girolabs team took the initiative to bring together people passionate about open data; as always it turned out to be a remarkable event. We decided to get together at Loffice Bulnes. This is the biggest coworking space network in the country and Bulnes is a space dedicated to entrepreneurship and social development, where Girolabs was born and has grown as a company, and where whe share space with other enterprises. This year we decided to innovate the format of the event so we organized an Unconference. What does this mean? Basically, it’s a model to break the common dynamics where few people speak. During an unconference, there is an open opportunity for everyone to speak and listen. It’s easier to understand if we tell you how it happened: First, the participants developed the program for the day. They chose the topics to discuss. Everyone had a possibility to suggest up to four topics and put them on the wall with a post-it. This way we made sure to include everyone’s interests in the dialogue. After this we grouped people by topic, putting the common topics together and identifying others. Through this we got to three main topics that guided us through the afternoon sessions:
  • Enterprise Open Data and Innovation
  • Government Open Data and the new Action Plan
  • Politicians and Elections Open Data
Once we got the big picture of the topics, we assigned three tables to have conversations simultaneously. Each person could decide where to join and we speaking rounds to make sure everyone could speak. This way people participated in two different tables, with different people. Each table had a moderator guiding the conversations. On the Government Open Data table we had Federico Sosa, the General Director of Open Government moderating and they gathered many proposals to include in the new Action Plan, which will be executed by mid-year. The Innovation and Enterprises table with Margarita Rojas focused on innovation through data science and big data in companies, as well as the importance of the data that companies hold and how it can help improve the commercial experience and life quality. A topic that also came up quite strongly was the need to bring academia and open data together, particularly through a thesis repository, so people can take advantage of these documents that tend to be stored in university libraries. In the third table, the A Quienes Elegimos team lead the politics conversation. A few days before national elections, the topics of transparency and civic engagement resonated quite strongly with participants. Two factors were that thanks to open data, we can help people understand who represents them, participate and vote consciously. To finalize each table presented their topics and we had an open mic so participants could present their own projects. Among them, SENATICS presented their achievements and challenges regarding open data. The developers of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Procurement Office presented the portals they built and the importance of using them to track public money. For one more year, we have proven that spaces like Open Data Day are very valuable for people, but specially it becomes clear how much work there is left to do. As a community, we expect to keep creating spaces where people, CSOs and government can talk in a convivial way.

Transparency International Cameroon celebrates the 8th edition of the Open Data day with a focus on the Public Procurement sector

Transparency International-Cameroon (TI-C) on Friday March 16 hosted an information and awareness raising workshop to celebrate the 8th edition of the International Open Data Day. Under the theme “Why should Cameroon use the Open Data Standards for Procurement to Combat Corruption in its Public Procurement System?”, the workshop organized with the financial support of the Open Data Community gathered representatives from the government, media, local councils, civil society organizations and technical and financial partners.

The workshop was a combination of presentations and interactive sessions. The participants had their capacities strenghtened through the following presentations:

  1. Corruption in the public procurement sector in Cameroon: Causes, Manifestations and consequences. An expert from Transparency International Cameroon provided the participants with facts and figures on corruption in the public procurement sector.
  2. Understanding the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS). With the presence of an expert on open data issues, the participants were able to have a better comprehension of “open data”, “open Contracting”, and “open contracting data standard”. The expert went further in his presentation to demonstrate how OCDS can help promote transparency and integrity in the public procurement sector.
  3. Open Data and the fight against corruption: the nexus. In this presentation and taking into consideration the context of Cameroon, the expert from transparency International presented the advantages of “open data” and “OCDS” in contributing to the reduction of corruption in the procurement sector. He went further to demonstrate how open data can help mitigate some corruption risks.

In the context of Cameroon, the key questions was, how can civil society organizations promote OCDS? While brainstorming on the question, participants realized that there are challenges to be addressed to facilitate the adoption of OCDS by government agencies. Among them we have:

  1. The absence of an information law: Cameroon does not yet have a law that could allow citizen to have access to information wherever they are and for whatever purpose. This has been identified as a major challenge in promoting OCDS.
  2. Non-adherence to international initiatives on Open Data: The country has not joined some of the recent initiatives aiming at facilitating and promoting open data. For instance Cameroon is not a member of the “Open Government Partnership”.
  3. Weak technical expertise from government and Civil society organizations: Implementing open data or open contracting data required a specific skill which is lacking at the national level. Therefore there is need to strengthen the capacities of stakeholders before preparing them to the use of open data tools.
  4. Poor knowledge of open data concepts and tools by the final beneficiaries: Participants believed that data are very sensible and if not well used can become a weapon. Therefore the questions raised were: (i) are citizens prepare to receive some data? (ii) And are they equipped to analyze the data? To these questions, participants expressed the need to educate citizens on open data and to conduct a sort of open data comprehension index as well.

The event was broadcasted on a national TV station during the Evening news the same day, also, one of the journalist present during the workshop had two articles published in its newspaper (Le quotidian l’Economie).

   

We should however underline here that this workshop is in line with the missions of the recently established “Open Contracting Working Group – Cameroon” composed mainly of three Cameroonian civil society organizations namely: Transparency International Cameroon, AfroLeadership and CRADDEC.

International open data day report from Yaounde Cameroon

- April 8, 2016 in cameroon, Open Data Day

The Open Data Day 2016  was successfully hosted and celebrated in Cameroon by the netsquared Yaoundé community.  The theme of the day was ‘Empowering Cameroonians to accelerate open data’, bringing together 90 participants. The event was hosted in Paraclete Institute in Yaoundé, which brought together multiple stakeholders and students, to empower them in advancing open data in this part of the world. The event started at 3pm with a theoretical session and ended with a practical workshop at 7pm. 12783518_1018005344927962_8147199272335209675_oThe theoretical session was hosted to shared with participants the basic concept of open data, its importance, and how it could be accelerated. This was demonstrated through a powerpoint presentation from panel members who shared examples of the impact of open data on government intermediaries, education and agriculture in strengthening citizen engagement. And the importance of the release of data sets. This event help to encourage participants to use open data for local content development in Cameroon,  showing how data could be made available for everyone to use, especially government data. The key concept was resourcing technologies that could be used for smart visualization of data and how data could be made available on a database for everyone to use to encourage innovative collaboration. We also discovered that most data has not been made accessible in Cameroon.f In order to encourage innovation, transparency, and collaboration we need to advance the open data movement in Cameroon, The practical workshop empowered participants to blog about data andto share it for reuseIt can be distributed on a platform like internet database website using blogg.com and other blogging sites like simplesite.com. We also made them to understand that research data must be made available for people to reuse and distributed for everyone to visualize it. We also empower them on how they can  made their data  available  socially, teaching participants that they can share data from blogs to other communication platforms or social media platforms  like Facebook, Twitter and Google   The event was appreciated by every participant.

International open data day report from Yaounde Cameroon

- April 8, 2016 in cameroon, Open Data Day

The Open Data Day 2016  was successfully hosted and celebrated in Cameroon by the netsquared Yaoundé community.  The theme of the day was ‘Empowering Cameroonians to accelerate open data’, bringing together 90 participants. The event was hosted in Paraclete Institute in Yaoundé, which brought together multiple stakeholders and students, to empower them in advancing open data in this part of the world. The event started at 3pm with a theoretical session and ended with a practical workshop at 7pm. 12783518_1018005344927962_8147199272335209675_oThe theoretical session was hosted to shared with participants the basic concept of open data, its importance, and how it could be accelerated. This was demonstrated through a powerpoint presentation from panel members who shared examples of the impact of open data on government intermediaries, education and agriculture in strengthening citizen engagement. And the importance of the release of data sets. This event help to encourage participants to use open data for local content development in Cameroon,  showing how data could be made available for everyone to use, especially government data. The key concept was resourcing technologies that could be used for smart visualization of data and how data could be made available on a database for everyone to use to encourage innovative collaboration. We also discovered that most data has not been made accessible in Cameroon.f In order to encourage innovation, transparency, and collaboration we need to advance the open data movement in Cameroon, The practical workshop empowered participants to blog about data andto share it for reuseIt can be distributed on a platform like internet database website using blogg.com and other blogging sites like simplesite.com. We also made them to understand that research data must be made available for people to reuse and distributed for everyone to visualize it. We also empower them on how they can  made their data  available  socially, teaching participants that they can share data from blogs to other communication platforms or social media platforms  like Facebook, Twitter and Google   The event was appreciated by every participant.

In Cameroon, budget transparency one council at a time

- August 5, 2014 in assoal, budget, budget data package, cameroon, council, Spending Stories, World Bank

How a tool like OpenSpending can help to better channel public spending into basic services in Cameroon. Version française In Cameroon, forest exploitation yield lots of money. Wood is indeed the third largest source of exports of the country, following oil and cocoa. In return, every logging company must pay a tax whose a part goes […]

In Cameroon, budget transparency one council at a time

- August 5, 2014 in assoal, budget, budget data package, cameroon, council, Spending Stories, World Bank

How a tool like OpenSpending can help to better channel public spending into basic services in Cameroon. Version française In Cameroon, forest exploitation yield lots of money. Wood is indeed the third largest source of exports of the country, following oil and cocoa. In return, every logging company must pay a tax whose a part goes […]