Building open data capacity in Tanzania – the story of two years of training and support
As part of our mission to help businesses and governments around the world get data to people who need it, we have worked with the World Bank over the last two years to provide training and support to the Tanzania Open Data Initiative
Tanzania joined the Open Government Partnership in 2011 and launched its Open Data Initiative a year later, with the support of its former president, Jakaya Kikwete. The government created a task force to lead it, launched a portal in March 2015 and published its first datasets (in its priority sectors: health, education and water). But its capacity – to clean, organise, publish and use data – was limited, which is why we offered our support.
Over the course of the project, we organised six week-long visits to Tanzania, and one visit to London, training 222 people and reaching a further 127 with policy advice and engagement, including policy seminars and communications masterclasses. This helped participants from government and civil society to develop their data literacy, skills and advocacy. As part of the training, we developed four tailored e-learning modules to help people explore available data management tools and practice data skills. The modules are free for anyone to access and use.
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Training trainers for lasting change
To ensure the Tanzania Open Data Initiative can have sustainable impacts, we trained in-country trainers to deliver their own open data training. One trainer said:
I have never delivered training before. Doing [the training] made me feel like "Yes, I am a professional trainer". My confidence levels have reached so high in this area because now I know I will not just be training people, but teaching them knowing that they understand. You ask me how? The answer is simple. I have learnt the skills of delivering a quality training!
Already, these new trainers have trained over 400 people.
Open data still needs political support
Despite this progress in capacity-building, big challenges remain. The government still has not published an open data policy – a key objective since 2012. This continues to create uncertainty for people who want to reuse data published by government. As we have argued, access to information means nothing when freedom of expression is not protected. In Tanzania, open data needs renewed political support.
But there is now momentum, and a community with the skills to publish and use open data. As the capacity and demand for using data continues to grow, so too does the potential for impact.
The programme was supported by the UK Department for International Development (DfID). DfID leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty. It is tackling the global challenges of our time including poverty and disease, mass migration, insecurity and conflict. Its work is building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for people in developing countries and in the UK too.