DRT moves to strengthen Collaboration among Open Data stakeholders in Uganda
Senior Programme Officer, Open Development
Development Research and Training
One of the challenges that have been standing in the way of a potentially more effective open data community in Uganda has been lack of strong collaboration and partnership between different organizations working on Open Data in Uganda.
A study DRT conducted in 2012 found that open data actors in the country were “polarized, fractured, share different and conflicting agendas and in some cases, are not even aware of one another’s existence” They also tended to operate in exclusive sub-groups or ‘cliques’ with apparent tensions between them. Although these tensions are not necessarily a bad thing as they could lead to further innovation, they can and seem to have resulted in duplication of effort, competition for available resources and a pursuit of multi-layered, often conflicting agendas in their efforts to advocate for data access and transparency. The study concluded that this lack of coordination and collaboration among the different players curtailed the impact that the open data movement would otherwise have had on decision making and improvement on the lives of real people in the country
It against the above background that DRT, a founding chair of the Uganda Open Development Platform, a loose coalition of organizations working on open data in Uganda, determined that there was need to find carefully crafted and sensitively implemented ways and means to turn the apparent negative diversity into creative tension and a real opportunity for “unlocking the potential for a more harnessed partnership among Open Data Actors in Uganda”.
This realization compelled us to carry out a mapping of different players in Uganda’s open data ecosystem and create a foundation for a sustainable engagement process among key open data components.
The mapping took place Between January 2015 and December 2015, and involved over 20 organizations implementing a variety of open data initiatives. The purpose of the mapping was to identify where the actors are located geographically, what they do and the data they deal with, but also determine the level of their inter- and intra collaboration and partnership to improve cohesion and partnership.
Specifically, we wanted to:
- Create and popularize a geomap of the known Open Data (OD) players in Uganda
- Understand better the drivers of polarization and clique-ism and devise sensitive (non-threatening) modalities to increase synergy among Open Data players (this will include testing out collaboration models that work)
- Develop capacity development online guides on building and strengthening partnerships across the ecosystem, materials for new entrants; and provide updates on the wider data revolution debate.
As we had hypothesized, we did indeed find that while there was a significant presence of a variety of open data stakeholders in Uganda;…
- Most are located in Kampala and other Urban areas, creating a rural-urban digital divide that relegates sub-national level players on the fringes of the open data movement;
- There is still lack of adequate collaboration and interaction among different open data actors; and
- There were new players that were not previously known.
The key intervention from the findings was that we created an online database of different open data organizations and their contacts, location and the type of data they work with. This map can be seen on www.opendevdata.ug. It is intended to be a platform where Uganda’s Open Data players can find and learn from each other.
We are currently popularizing the platform and planning joint activities in 2016 that will strengthen collaboration among the different Open Data Actors.
Download the full report here