This Week: Can Open Data Transform the Future of Africa’s Development?

Five hundred Washington Fellows who have been in the U.S. over the past six weeks for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) are getting ready to head home.  But first, they are convening in Washington, D.C. for a Presidential Summit, which will be streamed live on July 28. AidData enjoyed getting to spend time with the fellows while they were at the College of William & Mary for a series of trainings on incorporating open data in advocacy, journalism, and evaluation.  See what came out of the YALI trainings on Twitter (@YALINetwork and #YALI2014).   Following this huge initiative, next week President Obama will kick off the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit with 51 African leaders under the theme, “Investing in the Next Generation.”

AidData’s Geospatial Database Analyst Albert Decatur leads a data-driven journalism session with the YALI fellows

AidData’s Geospatial Database Analyst Albert Decatur leads a
data-driven journalism session with the 2014 YALI fellows

More evidence underscores the importance of citizen participation in governance so as to advance effective, equitable development.  The World Bank’s Jeff Thindwa describes several examples that demonstrate the importance of open government and open data alongside a “Customer is King” international development model.  In an interview this week on Africa’s growth, K.Y. Amoako, Founder and President of the African Center for Economic Transformation, also emphasized the need for open data, saying, “the compilation of high-quality data is vital for transformation in Africa.”

Big news for big data: the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) launched a Planned Budgets Dashboard with programmatic level data.  Stay tuned for a forthcoming First Tranche post on the significance of this step. 

Another win for open data is the interactive tool to rank donors’ performance on aid quality launched alongside the Center for Global Development’s 2014 Quality of Official Development Assistance brief.  They find that donors are improving on transparency measures and fostering partner country institutions, but less so on maximizing efficiency and reducing the burden on partner countries (see the summary). 

Katie Paulson-Smith is the Special Assistant to AidData’s Co-Executive Director based at the College of William & Mary. 

Tags: This WeekYALIopen dataopen governmentPEPFARAfricadonors