Access to information & data key to nat’l dev’t – Akufo-Addo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that if African leaders are to succeed in improving the living standards of their peoples, a critical piece of the puzzle has to be the availability and use of information and data.

According to President Akufo-Addo, the rapid evolution of the advanced and emerging market economies have been made possible largely as a result of the employment of information and data.

“If we, in Africa, are to emulate them and be an integral part of the on-going data revolution, there is the need, firstly, for us to require the owners of data to make it publicly available, in ways that are useful to all potential users,” the President said.

He noted further that “we need to educate and improve the data literacy of our people, and thirdly, encourage innovations on how, when and what data are collected and shared so that they are up to date, disaggregated and relevant to the concerns of people and policy makers.”

President Akufo-Addo made this known when he delivered the keynote address at the 2017 Africa Open Data Conference, on Thursday, July 20, 2017, currently on-going at the Accra International Conference Centre.

On the measures put in place to ensure the ease of availability of data and information in Ghana, President Akufo-Addo stated that the nation has committed a budget to revamping the Ghana Open Data Initiative.

Through this initiative, President Akufo-Addo indicated the resolve of government to ensure that “government data is legally and technically open”, “data released from all Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies are made available”, and “the use of open data is promoted within government and the open data ecosystem.”

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These initiatives, President Akufo-Addo stressed, will enhance the opportunity for economic development and creation of jobs in the area of digital technology for young people, who will be assisted to develop open data mobile and web applications for business.

“It will also encourage citizens to hold government accountable and ensure greater transparency. Open data must work in Ghana for the benefit of the citizenry,” he added.

The President continued, “As part of promoting the availability of data, government, under the e-Transform Project, is working to create innovation hubs (iHubs) and mobile labs (mLabs). Government will establish an Open Data Institute to promote education, management and use of open data, especially for the development of mobile and web-based applications.”

Achieving SGD Goals

As co-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group of Eminent Personalities, President Akufo-Addo revealed that the availability and use of data have been at the heart of the discussions on the achievement of the SDGs by 2030.

“We recognise that open data can be used to assist in the realisation of the SDGs through a clear understanding of the goals of the SDGs, and through tracking and measuring of the SDGs, and tapping into the knowledge, tools and capacities of groups tracking SDGs,” he added.

For example, SDG 2 is aimed at ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. The Open Data Institute has reiterated that shared and interoperable meteorological data and soil quality data can contribute to better farming methods.

Again, the Institute, in proposing a solution to the implementation of SDG 7, which is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, believes that energy data can be used to understand energy consumption patterns, empower consumers, as well as support companies who are dependent on stable energy supply.

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“Clearly, the role of open data in helping achieve all 16 SDG goals is critical… It is the intention of government also to ensure the long overdue passage of the Right to Information Bill by Parliament,” he said.