Accessing credible data still a challenge in Kenya, say experts

It may take a longer period for Kenyans to benefit from the explosion of data brought about by the growth of the internet and mobile technology in the county.

Stakeholders gathering at the International Open Data Day said that despite many Kenyans having access to information online, the biggest challenge remains packaging and limited accessibility hampering decision-making.

“With the growth of mobile technology and the rise in internet penetration, more Kenyans have access to information online. The biggest challenge, however, when it comes to data is that; plenty of good data exists - but there is limited accessibility and uptake for decision-making and policy advocacy.

“Additionally, data is mostly not well packaged and contextualised for ease of use by a broad range of stakeholders, which poses a challenge.”

“Data driven decision making and data culture is very important, when we talk about open data in Kenya, what initiatives are we as Kenyans undertaking to ensure both,” John Olukuru, the Head of Data Science and Analytics @iLabAfrica- Strathmore University paused.

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 guarantees Kenya access to information and it is therefore important that the public is sensitised more on open data sources available and the importance of accessing such information to enable them (citizens) to play their watchdog role more effectively.

 “One of the effective ways to make sure we generate an effective loop is to make sure we safeguard the enforcement entities around data privacy.” Linet Juma, Project Officer at Local Development Research Institute.

This year’s open data event in Kenya was organised by a consortium of partners that include; Development Initiative, @iLabAfrica- Strathmore University, Africa Practice, Code for Africa, Map Kibera and the Local Development Research Institute. The half-day event saw stakeholders discuss the challenges in the sector and opportunities available as well as display different open data platforms available in the market.

Speaking during the panel session Catherine Gicheru, Head of Code for Africa said “Open data should not only be the responsibility of the government but also the entity should make it easier for citizens to access information. There is a need for collaboration”.

Open Data Day is an international annual event for data enthusiasts to connect and build solutions to complex social issues together with the community by using open data. 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Open Data Day. Over the last decade, Open Data Day has evolved from a small group of people in a few cities across the world trying to persuade their governments about the value of open data, to a community of practitioners and activists that are putting data to use for their communities globally.