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#CAFDO2017: The first Francophone African Conference on Open Data and Open Government

Amelié Banzet|

This blog was adapted and translated from a post originally appearing on the Etalab website.

Because the free use of public data and the principles of open government are key to inclusive and sustainable social and economic development, Francophone African countries are working together to promote open data and open government across the continent.

The first ever Francophone African Conference on Open Data and Open Government (CAFDO) brought together representatives from 22 French-speaking countries.

Organized by Burkina Faso’s National Agency for the promotion of ICT, #CAFDO2017 took place in Ouagadougou from June 1st to 3rd and welcomed representatives from more than 22 French-speaking countries, including Algeria, Benin, Canada, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Tunisia, and Togo.   

Etalab, along with Canal France International (CFI), co-hosted the event as part of the #HackFrancophonie series, organized in Paris in February 2016. France was also represented by the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the French Development Agency, and Expertise France.

This first of a conference, which brought together more than a hundred participants from civil society, civic tech and government, as well as meeting, workshop and roundtable facilitators, helped launch a network of Francophone African leaders in the field of open data and identify spaces of regional collaboration across different themes.

The objective of this network will be to share best practices and overcome challenges preventing people from taking full advantage of data, including weak internet connection throughout the continent, government implementation of open data policies and legal frameworks, and bolstering local resources, expertise and ecosystems within government administrations, startups, and civil society and civic tech organizations.  

Three days devoted to using and opening up public data

CAFDO was launched by Hadja Fatimata Ouattara Sanon, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Development of the Digital Economy and Telecommunications, Clément Sawadogo, Minister of Public Work Services and Social Protection, Cheick Fantamady Kanté, Representative of the World Bank, and Metsi Makheta, United Nations Coordinator to Burkina Faso. Interspersed with dancing and musical performances, the inauguration demonstrated the government of Burkina Faso’s commitment to championing policies for openness across the African continent.

Facilitated by the very dynamic Nnenna Nwakanma, the first day unfolded in small working groups to identify actions that would answer three questions: What is the role of leaders in opening up public data? What data are key for development? What priority initiatives need to be implemented in order to open up these data?

The second day had a number of short breakout sessions during which countries and organizations could share and provide feedback about some of their concrete projects, including humanitarian data, open data for the media, the platform, the socio-fiscal simulator, opening up parliamentary data, using environmental data, etc.   

The day finished with the launch of the data camp, with 18 project leaders presenting initiatives on which they would like to work.

The third day, devoted entirely to the data camp, helped identify ten collaborative projects on which the participants will continue to work in the coming months and which will receive support from the following actors present at the event: the French Development Agency, Canal France International, Expertise France, the World Bank, the International Development Research Centre, and the Open Knowledge Foundation :

One day devoted to strengthening open government in Francophone Africa

In parallel to CAFDO was a one-day session on open government attended by some 30 government and civil society representatives from OGP countries (France, the Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Burkina Faso), countries eligible to join OGP (Senegal), and countries close to being eligible to join OGP (Guinea, Morocco, Benin). The workshop aimed at identifying the challenges and opportunities for implementing open government reforms in Francophone African countries, encouraging new Francophone African countries to join, and supporting Burkina Faso in drafting its first open government action plan. During the workshop, representatives from Senegal, Guinea, and Morocco reiterated their desire to begin the process of joining OGP.

Following the session, the government and civil society of Burkina Faso met in Koudougou to begin drafting Burkina Faso’s first action plan. Participants worked to come up with ten concrete commitments organized around four themes: anti-corruption; strengthening democracy, human rights and justice; transparency in public finance; and improving access to information. Burkina Faso is working to complete its action plan by September. 

Greater collaboration with Francophone Africa

By bringing together, for the first time, this committed, African community, CAFDO helped launch the network of African leaders on open data for social and economic development.

As underscored by its co-chairmanship of the Open Government Partnership and hosting of the 2016 OGP Global Summit in Paris 2016, France will continue to support the work of this Francophone community and has already announced several collaborative projects: the French Development Agency renewed its commitment via the PAGOF (Open Government Support Program in Francophone Africa) program, CFI is recreating its 18-month Open Data Media training program, and Etalab has engaged in dialogues to help develop ‘udata’ in several Francophone African countries.

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