Open data is the concept that various data should be available, free of charge, to everyone for use and redistribution without copyright or patent restrictions. Open data has gained in popularity in recent years with the growth of open-data government initiatives. Open data usually focuses on material such as mathematical or scientific formulae, genomes, bioscience, maps, and medical data; non-textual data basically.
In Africa, the first open data platforms were launched by the African Development Bank Group (BAD) on March 13th. According to the African Press Organization, 20 nations (which include Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon, Rwanda, and Algeria) are to be involved in this initiative.
The BAD aims to improve both data management and sharing throughout the continent in order to provide all African nations with access to the open information by the end of July 2013.
Here in Senegal, the move towards open data has been initiated through websites such as senegalouvert.org, and senegal.opendataforafrica.org. These online databases provide statistics regarding demographics, investments, energy and such. As these sources of open information are in their infancy stage, they currently contain a limited amount of data.
Nevertheless, the BAD is confident that all the nations taking part in this initiative will continue to promote data availability not only to the people, but also international partners such as the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.