An Action Plan Towards a “New Deal on Data” in Africa

Blog by Charlie Martial Ngounou, Hannah Chafetz, Sampriti Saxena, Adrienne Schmoeker, Stefaan G. Verhulst, & Andrew J. Zahuranec: “To help accelerate responsible data use across the African data ecosystem, AfroLeadership with the support of The GovLab hosted two Open Data Action Labs in March and April 2023 focused on advancing open data policy across Africa. The Labs brought together domain experts across the African data ecosystem to build upon the African Union’s Data Policy Framework and develop an instrument to help realize Agenda 2063.

The Labs included discussions about the current state of open data policy and what could be involved in a “New Deal on Data” across the African continent. Specifically, the Labs explored how open data across African countries and communities could become more:

  1. Purpose-led: how to strengthen the value proposition of and incentives for open data and data re-use, and become purpose-led?
  2. Practice-led: how to accelerate the implementation of open data and data re-use policies, moving from policy to practice?
  3. People-led: how to trigger engagement, collaboration and coordination with communities and stakeholders toward advancing data rights, community interests, and diversity of needs and capacities?

Following the Labs, the organizing team conducted a brainstorming session to synthesize the insights gathered and develop an action plan towards a “New Deal on Data” for Africa. Below we provide a summary of our action plan. The action plan includes four vehicles that could make progress towards becoming purpose-, practice-, and people-led. These include:

  1. A “New Deal” Observatory: An online resource that takes stock of the the current state of open data policies, barriers to implementation, and use cases from the local to continental levels
  2. A Community-Led Platform: A solutions platform that helps advance data stewardship across African countries and communities
  3. “New Deal” Investment: Supporting the development of locally sourced solutions and nuanced technologies tailored to the African context
  4. Responsible Data Stewardship Framework: A framework that open data stewards can use to support their existing efforts when looking to encourage or implement grassroots policies…(More)”