President Akufo-Addo speaking at the Africa Open Data Conference 2017 in Accra
President Akufo-Addo speaking at the Africa Open Data Conference 2017 in Accra

Speed up passage of RTI Bill - President tells Parliament

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says the government is resolved to collaborate with Parliament to speed up the processes for the passage of the long-awaited Right to Information Bill.

The passage of the bill, he said, would “encourage the citizens to hold the government accountable and ensure greater transparency”.

Delivering a keynote address at the 2017 Africa Open Data Conference in Accra on Thursday, President Akufo-Addo said: “Open data must work in Ghana for the benefit of the citizenry.”

The four-day conference, being attended by about 600 experts, representatives of international development agencies and other stakeholders, is discussing how to fast-track the implementation of an open data system in Africa.

The regional conference, with support from the global level and the World Bank, will, among other things, discuss the progress and achievements of the open data industry.

President Akufo-Addo said the rapid evolution of the advanced and emerging market economies had been made possible largely as a result of the employment of information and data.

“If we, in Africa, are to emulate them and be an integral part of the ongoing data revolution, there is the need, firstly, for us to require the owners of data to make them publicly available in ways that are useful to all potential users,” he said.

He, therefore, stressed the need “to educate and improve the data literacy of our people and encourage innovations on how, when and what data are collected and shared, so that they are up to date, disaggregated and relevant to the concerns of people and policy makers”.

The government’s commitment

President Akufo-Addo stated that the nation had committed a budget to revamping the Ghana open data initiative as part of the measures put in place to ensure the ease of availability of data and information in Ghana.

Through that initiative, he said, the government was resolved to ensure that “government data are legally and technically open”.

The government, he said, would also ensure that data released from all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) were made available, and that “the use of open data is promoted within government and the open data ecosystem”.

Cumulatively, he said, those initiatives would enhance the opportunity for economic development and the creation of jobs in the area of digital technology for young people, who would be assisted to develop open data mobile and web applications for business.

“As part of promoting the availability of data, the government, under the e-Transform Project, is working to create innovation hubs (iHubs) and mobile labs (mLabs).  The government will establish an open data institute to promote education, the management and use of open data, especially for the development of mobile and web-based applications,” he said.

Open data and achieving the SDGs

He said as co-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group of Eminent Personalities, he knew that the availability and use of data had been at the heart of the discussions on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

“We recognise that open data can be used to assist in the realisation of the SDGs through a clear understanding of the goals of the SDGs and through tracking and measuring of the SDGs and tapping into the knowledge, tools and capacities of groups tracking SDGs,” he added.

For example, he said, SDG 2 was aimed at ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture.

The Open Data Institute had reiterated that shared and inter-operable meteorological data and soil quality data could contribute to better farming methods, he said.

Again, he said, the institute, in proposing a solution to the implementation of SDG 7, which is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, believed that energy data could be used to understand energy consumption patterns, empower consumers, as well as support companies who were dependent on stable energy supply.

“Clearly, the role of open data in helping achieve all 16 SDGs is critical and the intention of the government is to ensure the passage of the Right to Information Bill by Parliament,” President Nana Akufo-Addo said.

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