Open Data is coming to Rwanda, and kLab is likely to play a big role in it. Open Data is a rapidly growing movement around the world, with more than 250 governments pursuing Open Data initiatives. Governments at all levels understand that Open Data is a powerful catalyst for innovation, entrepreneurship and improved public services, in addition to an enabler of transparency and accountability. Recognizing this global trend, the Government of Rwanda recently requested the World Bank to assist in a preliminary assessment of Rwanda’s readiness to launch a national Open Data initiative. In response, a team of experts from the government and the Bank are partnering to conduct an Open Data Readiness Assessment (ODRA) in Rwanda.
ODRA is based on a methodology developed by the World Bank to assist governments in diagnosing what actions could consider in order to establish an Open Data initiative. This means more than just launching an Open Data portal for publishing data. An Open Data initiative involves addressing both the supply and the reuse of Open Data. And that is where kLab comes into the picture. Data by itself is useless for most people. To create real value, Open Data must be turned into something — a map, a mobile application, a new service— that people can use. Developers are vital for this.
The Rwanda ODRA exercise began during the week of June 10th, and the assessment team had the opportunity to meet kLab management, mentors and a group of kLab tenants. Jeff Kaplan, one of the original creators of the ODRA methodology for the World Bank, led the discussions on behalf of the ODRA team. During a lively meeting at kLab, it quickly became clear that Open Data could prove useful for a number of projects being developed by kLab tenants – from a tourism portal to mobile agriculture and nutrition apps. The technical skills and talent of kLab tenants will be an essential resource for Rwanda’s Open Data efforts. kLab developers and entrepreneurs are well positioned to transform Open Data into viable apps and services that can both showcase the value of Open Data and even help produce the next big commercial success in Rwanda’s ICT market.