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Open Africa Meeting Seeks to Democratize Data

The Open Africa Summit took place in Zanzibar over October 7/8 2012. The Summit focused on open data in Africa and featured presentations from some of the key thinkers in this field, including Amadou Mahtar Ba of the Africa Media Initiative, Jay Bhalla of the Open Institute and Alex Howard of O’Reilly Media. The meeting was opened by Deputy Minister Angela Kairuki representing government leadership on the Open Government Partnership, and also featured a keynote presentation by January Makamba, Deputy Minister for Communication, Science and Technology.

Rakesh Rajani of Twaweza spoke at the meeting about Human Centred Design, and provided participants with key guidelines on creating and implementing successful tech initiatives that work for people. Drawing from the failures of two projects supported by Twaweza - Huduma and Daraja - Rajani emphasized a design process that starts with users and others involved in the process and works backwards to achieve it. He also emphasized the role of risk-taking and failure, noting that "it is not about working hard to get a perfect design at the beginning, but rather about creating a nimble, iterative model that gathers quick feedback, tweaks and adapts, and tries something new".

The Summit was organized by the Open Institute and Africa Media Initiative, with support from Twaweza and other groups. Twaweza is in discussions with these groups on how to democratize data and to enable citizens to use it to drive change. Twaweza also hosts one of the Code4Kenya fellow at its Nairobi office.

Summit discussions were tweeted by several participants, including Al Kags blog who has published some details about the first days of the Summit. A report of the Summit will be published here shortly.

Read more: governance open government Open Government Partnership transparency

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