Saturday, April 16, 2016

International Open Data Day in Addis Abba, Ethiopia

This blog post was written By Solomon Mekonnen Local Organizer, Open Knowledge and Co-founder, Code4Ethiopia
An open data interest group representing 25 participants from universities, NGOs, CSOs and government ministries attended an open data event on 5th March, 2016, with theme “Raising Open Data awareness in the grass root community of Ethiopia”. The event was organized by Code4Ethiopia and Open Knowledge Ethiopia, with the support of Open Knowledge International and Addis Ababa University, in connection with Open Data Day which is a global celebration of openness.

The event was opened by Mr. Mesfin Gezehagn, a University Librarian at the Addis Ababa University (AAU). Mr. Mesfin briefed the participants that Addis Ababa University has been providing training on open research data and open science to postgraduate students and academicians to see more researchers practicing open data sharing (making data free to use, reuse, and redistribute) and open science (making scientific research, data and other results and work flows available to all). He also stated that the University collaborates with open data communities like Open Knowledge Ethiopia and Code4Ethiopia.
groupMr. Mesfin also informed the participants that AAU has started drafting a policy to ensure mandatory submission of research data for researches that are sponsored by the University to open the data to the public. 

Following the opening, three of the Cofounders of Code4Ethiopia (Solomon Mekonnen, Melkamu Beyene and Teshome Alemu), and a Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science of AAU (Desalegn Mequanint) presented discussion areas for participants. The presentations were focused on Code4Ethiopia and Open Knowledge Ethiopia Programmes , raising Open Data awareness to the grass root Community of Ethiopia , open data experience in African countries, and,  social, cultural & economic factors affecting open data implementation in the Ethiopia.

Following, the workshop was opened for discussion by Daniel Beyene, co-founder of Code4Ethiopia. The participants recommend that advocacy should be done from top to down starting from the policy makers to grass root community of Ethiopia and they also proposed that Code4Ethiopia and Open Knowledge Ethiopia in collaboration international partners should organize a national sensitization Open Data Hackathon to reach various stakeholders.

The workshop also identified challenges in Ethiopia for open data implementation including lack of awareness, absence of policy level commitment from governments and lack of appropriate data science skills & data literacy. The participants also selected data sets that need priority for the country’s development and that interest the general public which includes budget data, expenditure (accounts) data, census,  trade information, election data, health and educational data.
The workshop was concluded by thanking our partners Open Knowledge International and Addis Ababa University for their contribution to the success of the event. All of the participants have also been invited to join Code4Ethiopia and the Open Knowledge community. Most of the participants have agreed to join these two communities to build open data ecosystem in Ethiopia.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Open Knowledge Ethiopia members supported AAU on organizing workshop on open Research Data

Addis Ababa University Libraries in collaboration with Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) have conducted a full day workshop on “Open research data” on 21, July 2015. The workshop gathered participants Researchers, Librarians, ICT professionals from Addis Ababa University and Consortium of Ethiopian Academic and research libraries.  Zanele Mathe of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology Library, and Matthew Buys, the ORCID Regional Director: Africa & Middle East, both from South Africa, were among the invited speakers. There were also speakers from AAU who are all members of Open Knowledge Ethiopia.

In the workshop, a proposal to implement an open research data project for the AAU was presented. Following the presentation, the participants discussed the importance of making research data openly available, open research data policies, and best practices in data sharing.  Most of the participants agreed that research data should be shared with the exception of personal, confidential and sensitive data. It was also agreed that a new service on research data management (RDM) should be started at AAU. At the end of the workshop, it was also decided that a working group shall be formed consisting of representatives from Research office, Library, ICT office, researchers and research institutes to work on strategy and policy for RDM service at AAU.  Open Knowledge Ethiopia members supported AAU on organizing the workshop, creating awareness on the importance of open data and drafting the proposal to implement open data project.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Open Knowledge Ethiopia community conducted its first meetup

Open Knowledge Ethiopia community was founded by volunteer individuals from different Universities and Research Institutes  to advocate for Open Knowledge in Ethiopia. We have Librarians, Lecturers,  ICT experts and data professionals in the community. The community conducted its first meetup on 10, May 2015 and the agenda was to get to know each other and to decide focus areas for the community. After deliberating on different areas of Open Knowledge, the members have decided to focus on Open Science and Open Data areas as some of the community members have experience working with these domains. The community has also planned activities that the community will engage for the next six months. 

We have identified list of activities to engage for the Open Science. Since most of the communities are lecturers in the Universities, the members agreed to make a presentation on Open Science to their students and colleague scientist so as to create awareness on open Science including opening  research publications , research data, figures, models, algorithms, software, tools, notebooks, laboratory designs and so on. Member from the library have agreed to include open science awareness as parts of their information literacy program. The Librarians have also promised to strengthen their open access programme in the areas of Open Access journals and repositories. Moreover, Colleagues from the Addis Ababa University Libraries has informed the community that they will organize an international workshop on Open Research Data in collaboration with Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) on which international speakers will make a presentation on their practical implementation of open research data. It is expected that following the workshop, Addis Ababa University and other Universities as well as research institutes will start implementing Open research data. 

With regard to Open Data, the community appreciate that all the Co-founders of an organization called code4Ethiopia which advocates for Open Data are members of the group. So, the community decided to work in collaboration with Code4Ethiopia in relation with open data initiative. Colleagues from code4Ethiopia have briefed the members that they have already planned to visualize Ethiopian election data which will be conducted in May 25 so as to promote the values of data to the citizens as well as to the Government and non Governmental organizations. The organization have also planned to build a portal for Open contracting for increased disclosure and participation in public contracting including tendering, performance and completion so as to minimize the millions of dollars that the Ethiopian Government and other organizations incur in advertizing tenders and processing . All members have also been invited to contribute to Open Data activities of the organization. 

The community has also discussed on potential stakeholders to work with and the group has decided to partner with Consortium of Ethiopian Academic and Research Libraries, Addis Ababa University (AAU) Libraries, Code4Ethiopia, School of Information Science of AAU and International organizations like African Union, UN organs which are based in Addis Ababa.