The Tony Elumelu Foundation and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA has concluded a three-day working to create roadmap on how to implement an ambitious plan to initiate a “data revolution” across Africa.
2015 marks the end of Millennium Development Goals, MDGs – a global initiative with the aim of addressing some of the most intransigent problems facing millions of people throughout the developing world including extreme poverty and hunger, gender inequality, and disease, among others.
As the world prepares to establish a new set of goals for the post-2015 development agenda, the importance of data for human-oriented and sustainable development will play a critical role, which consequently has led to a global call for a “data revolution” to improve the availability of development data to ensure that no group is left behind.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s Africapitalism Institute, which conducts rigorous research on economic and social development, hosted a group of data experts at its offices in Lagos in order to help move the conversation forward, recognizing that there is an urgent need for a data revolution in Africa to inform key policies that address some of the continent’s most critical needs.
The Institute represents the private sector’s role in the data revolution process as both a provider and a consumer.
In order for Africapitalism – the private sector’s commitment to Africa’s development, through long-term investment in strategic sectors that drive both economic prosperity and social wealth – to take root on the continent, the data revolution must be as inclusive as possible.
Commenting on the data revolution, the Director of the Institute, David Rice, stated, “The proliferation and ubiquity of information communication technology, electronic financial transactions, digital commerce, and social media has resulted in an unprecedented amount of data being gathered by the private sector – data that would be extraordinarily useful in the formulation of public policy, allocation of government resources, and creation of effective development strategies for Africa.”
To better meet the challenges and realize the promises of the data revolution through collective effort among African stakeholders, a High Level Conference (HLC) on Data Revolution was held in Addis Ababa, March 2015, in response to a request by African Heads of States.
During the HLC, an Africa Data Consensus, ADC was adopted, which urges African data communities to develop a coordinated response and exploit the new opportunity while responding to the challenge together.
The conversation on the data revolution in Africa continued in Lagos when the Economic Commission for Africa convened data experts to discuss immediate steps to be taken to actualize the data revolution in Africa.
The Lagos meeting, hosted by The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s Africapitalism Institute, included experts from the World Wide Web Foundation, United Nations, African Union Commission and the Africa Development Bank.
The outcome of the meeting becomes a permanent annex to the ADC and includes guiding principles for partnership with other ongoing initiatives at global, national and regional levels. The meeting also included a webinar session that lasted for 90 minutes and had over a hundred participants from across the globe.
At the end of the three day session Dozie Ezigbalike from the UN Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA, said: “For me, I see the data revolution as an active process of doing things in different and new ways; be disruptive of the status quo if need be, with the objective to empower citizens to become active participants in processes that would affect them.
“With access to appropriate data, appropriately presented, citizens can demand services that they rightfully deserve, and confirm that the agreed services were actually delivered.”
The World Wide Web Foundation’s Nnenna Nwakanma, likewise, restated her commitment to the data revolution, saying “Data is the new gold.
The more of it you can generate, use, and share, the more sustainably developed you will be. Opening up data is key to my work at the Web Foundation and engaging our expertise towards the Data Revolution in Africa is a firm decision.
We are here to support policy, build capacities, contribute to better governance with data and support citizen engagement. Our work in research, in Open Data, in standards, in data labs and in policy advisory will accompany the implementation of the Africa Data Consensus”.


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