Regional News of Sunday, 20 April 2014
The Ghana Open Data Initiative (GODI) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Thursday held a meeting on the state of the Ghana Open Data Portal in Accra.
The meeting, which is a follow up to previous similar one-to-one engagements to show what has been done and to solicit the views of CSOs on what could be done going forward, was facilitated by the World Bank on the theme: “From Engaged Citizens to More Responsive Governance”.
Mr. William Tevie, GODI Project Director and Director General in a speech read on his behalf, recounted that, in January 2012, the National Information and Technology Agency (NITA) embarked on a journey to create an open data community and portal.
He said the primary objective for creating the portal was to increasingly make available government data in an open format so businesses, organizations and the citizenries could re-use them for their various needs.
He said NITA, which is the government information technology implementing agency, was motivated to create an open data community and portal in view of its mandate to ensure that government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies would increasingly use information and communications technology to deliver services to businesses, organizations and citizens, with open feedback for accountable governance.
Mr. Tevie said the perceived benefit of such a portal was in three folds; one being citizen’s feedback to government administrative agencies for enhanced administrative efficiency.
It also provides economic benefit as a result of opportunities created for business to develop different applications over government datasets and availability of data for general economic growth.
It enhances transparency and accountable governance as a result of vigilant citizen detecting corruption from datasets made available on the portal.
He said GODI’s approach to the creation of the portal was to develop the community and the portal in parallel and, therefore, the community could contribute to the development process, adding that the portal was developed in-house rather than procure an already made solution.
Mr. Tevie expressed his gratitude to the United States Open Data team through Jeane Holm who generously allowed them to use the Open Government Platform open source data catalogue solution which they jointly developed with the Indian Open Data team.
The Director General also lauded the Indian Open Data team for providing support for their development process.
He said Ghana is the second country in the sub-Saharan Africa to build a national open data portal with almost 800 datasets.
He said the process of development of over a long period has equipped them with the necessary skill-set to properly maintain and grow the platform and help other African countries develop an open data portal.
Mr. Tevie commended the GODI team whose voluntary spirit has brought the portal into reality, declaring that to date; the initiative has received no funding from any sources.
He said the portal as it stands now has in-build data visualization tools and their plan is to add more visualization and semantic web capabilities to aid users of the portal make evidence based decisions using linked data.
“We are still sourcing funding to make this happen and will be happy to receive support from any quarters to make this happen,” the Director General said.
Mr. Kofi Tsikata of the World Bank Ghana Country Office hailed the GODI team for scaling-up the process very fast.
He said with GODI in place, when the right to information bill is finally passed into law, there will be free flow of information to the citizenry.
He further urged GODI to continue to work together closely with CSOs for the benefit of the nation.