One of this week’s tidings in the african and global techies community is the lauching of new terrific open data platforms for 20 african countries by the African Development Bank. I have talked about this and other open data platforms in one of my previous posts (in french). I would like to say that the platforms are very well-designed and user friendly. I was looking over them when I remembered something that I noticed in the organization where I am currently working.
A few years ago (before I joined), the great idea was issued to develop a monitoring and evaluation system to collect, aggregate and publish data on on-going and completed projects. Indeed, this is a wonderful idea. So I was very excited to take a look at the system and I do confess that I was pretty disappointed. The system is already developped and accessible but is not used at all. Information are outdated and data are not updated into the system. It seems that after the exitation of novelty, people are likely no longer interested. Some partner organizations that could be concerned by the system are even not informed of his existence.
To me, this is one of the highest risks that threaten these new open data platforms. Getting to go beyond the mere of the platforms is tough. Likewise making them become a daily tool for business professionals, economists, governments, populations, etc. The most important part of the work (and the hardest) is more about changing habits and mindsets. The next step to success, is to cheer on all stakeholders to take ownership of the platforms. Otherwise, it can become another great initiative to disuse. Building the open data platforms for african countries is definitely a breakthrough. But it is just the begining of a long journey.