Launched in June 2018, Openstat Madagascar is an open data platform to highlight the "how" Government should release their data. Developed in a country where there is no Access to Information law, data available on the platform are all under Creative Commons and used as tools for Open Data advocacy program. Other national entities which want to make their data available to the public are welcome for partnership.
The political will of Madagascar to enter the Open Government during the OGP 2016 though there is no suite until today in addition to a great lack of "open data" in Madagascar constituted both the motivation and the opportunity to built the platform.
Madagacsar 2017 Open Data Inventory (ODIN) score of 6 ranked the country amongst the three last ones in the world. While one cannot even download machine readable data from the National Institute of Statistics official website, a platform where data could be free and regularly updated is a best strategy for civil society to for an open government advocacy.
Openstat is a platform where data are available to all under Creative Commons. The main objective is to advance open data concept and establishing partnership with governmental bodies which have no technical capacity or skills to work on their own data to make it freely open to therefore improve the Access to Information situation in Madagascar.
Six months after its launch in June 2018, we haven't yet monitored the reuse of data available on the platform, but we can identify from our back office people downloading some. However, it has helped in leading open data training and we are on our way in building partnership with local authorities in publishing data on it provided that open data principles are respected.
The website also has an " Open Contracting" component for foreign investment transparency.
Many technical adjustments are on-going. Currently, the platform is being upgraded to become as well an open data demand platform to later on enable the public to demand data to Government. This is expected to be done by 3 April 2019. The future is to match in a one stop digital platform the demand and supply sides of data.
The platform will offer :
- A space for citizen to ask for data
- A space for National Ministry to respond to data request and explaining why the data is not available.
- A space for National Ministry to publish their data
- An Open Contracting space where Government Contracts will be available for transparency and accountability purpose.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Previous projects were often left behind in Madagascar and some open data platforms don't even contain machine readable data. Unlike these so-called open data platforms, Openstat Madagascar seeks to be the reference where the Civil Society initiator has become itself a data provider to the public.
Associated with a "Datajournalism for SDGs" project funded by CIVICUS World Alliance for 2019, data available on the platform are available nowhere else in Madagascar.
The website also gather all aspects of open data and contracts transparency in one place preventing the public from the issue of remembering different website names when trying to find data and ask for data that's not available.
Collaborations & Partnerships
Before it was launched, many institutions have used the absence of an Open Data Charter as an excuse to not make open their data and the drafting of it has lingered for 2 years now.
Openstat Madagascar comes from the initiative of the Civil Society. Through its own data collection project, it shows how possible we can do Open Data without a national Open Data Charter. From this strategy then try to reach National entities to work hand in hand in the direction of Open Government.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
- The General Public who need data for their work, this includes
student journalist, journalists, digital entrepreneur
- Civil Society : to monitor their transparency requests.
- Government Officials who use the platform as a data sharing and ease interaction with citizen (G2C and C2G)
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
From MAIDI :
8 datasets published so far
1 Data reuse competition organized in July 2018.
17 more dataset to be published by December 2019.
5 data stortelling analytics video broadcast until December 2019
From potential partners:
3 national entities expressing their willingness to partner with us in data cleaning and publishing.
It's hard to estimate the data published from the potential partners as it depends on many factors and a certain political engagement level ..
Challenges and Failures
Before its design, one of the most important challenge was the absence of support from Government in terms of data sharing. This forced us to become data provider and built datasets in a creative manner to avoid data we know certainly exist. But connection to key people happened little by little enabling us to partner with local authorities.
Conditions for Success
1- Access to Information Law
The formulation of an Access to Information Law would validate the right of citizen to access to data and will force the competent authorities to comply with the law.
2- Ensure Open Data Interest
People should be interested in data.
Like a propaganda, the innovation should be made known by all nationally by all means (TV, Radio, notices, .. ) to encourage participation in all regions.
3- Drafting a National Open Data Program & an Open Government Action Plan.
Having a single open data platform to implement a successful open government is necessary for horizontal transformation in public administration. This will determine identify in each ministry the responsible in building datasets, answering citizen request.
4- Putting data availability before profit
The platform is the combination of different open government best practices we have seen online.
From now, it's now unique of its kind in Madagascar. That's why the essential is now to establish partnership with other actors for data sharing to avoid multiple open data platform as per the recommendation of the latest African Data Revolution Report in 2018 but also because a partnership between Government and Civil Society is essential for the Open Government whole process.
The platform can be a better choice for other countries which haven't made any steps toward Open Government at all. Insteading of building different websites for all ministries, it's a cost-saving solution.
- When almost non one is listening to you, prioritise concrete action than research project or endless workshop activities (Sometimes, key persons you want to address won't attend your workshop anyway)
- Instead of asking for the change to happen or denouncing the system (Rude strategy) , Civil Society should start changing the situation and there will always be a way to do so, no matter how strange and unusual it appears or even rejected at first (Soft strategy) as Openness is a sensible subject mostly if you are based in a country with high Corruption Perception Index.
- The purpose of your innovation will only be recognised following your consistency.
Our platform was initially funded by Mozilla Foundation in 2018 and can be now upgraded because of Civicus World Alliance grant as part of the Goalkeepers Youth Accelerator 2019.