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  • Dennis Irorere, YouthMapper & OSM Validator

Lessons from the Africa Open Data Conference

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

The second Africa Open Data Conference (AODC) took place in Accra, Ghana from July 17– 21, 2017. The conference aimed to strengthen the use of Open Data (OD) for innovation, job creation and growth in Africa and was organized by the Government of Ghana and supported by the African Open Data Collaborative and partners. This gathering brought together open data experts from government, civil society, academia, private sector, development organizations, and others who are committed to furthering the transfer of knowledge around open data from various countries all around the world.

The five-day meeting included hands-on training with complete workshops and breakout sessions. The AODC had a 3-day pre-conference with activities, which aimed at educating and strengthening the open data community, as well as orienting participants who were very new to the scope of open data. It also provided hands-on training in mapping, data visualization and data management practices.

I attended the Empowering Communities to Improve Their Lives Using Data session, other sessions included Advancing Africa’s Commitment and Open Contracting Data Standard, Open Data on Agriculture Policy, and the Africa Data Revolution Project. As the data revolution continues to make more data available, local communities struggle with the greatest community development needs and the least capacity to use data to drive more effective policies and programs, increase transparency and accountability, and provide sustainable development.

The mapping training I participated in was conducted by the lead of OpenStreetMap France who enlightened us on the Jungle Bus project. This project is an Android app for on-site bus stop collection that helps display all of the bus stops and routes each bus covers daily. It was an exciting mapathon and I enjoyed interacting with the Youthmappers from Cape Coast and their staff advisor who is very vibrant. I learned a lot from their team. We shared a table together at lunch and behold it was fun all through. From that moment, I realized there is a lot of mapping and development to be done in my country, Nigeria. With the connections I made in Ghana, I see lots of them coming to Nigeria to help in the Map Nigeria campaign soon enough.

By Friday, towards the end of the event, I finally understood the power Africa possesses and I realized that it is our diversity that makes us unique and interesting. It was inspiring to see various religions and ethnic groups seeing the importance of opening data.

The AODC conference gave me the opportunity to finally network with amazing mappers from Ghana, Togo, Benin, Mali, Uganda and France. I was delighted when I got the opportunity to learn some tricks first hand from Andrew Wiseman who has been someone I admire since the day he lectured me on how to be a JOSM validator. I am now driven to make a bigger impact in the YouthMappers network and OSM community after a glance of the family they are making.

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