Another African country goes open data! After Kenya the next African state is set to open up! Ghana has opened its open government data portal for journalists, students and the civilians to access public data. Data includes 80 government datasets for a start, covering information on previous population census and elections, health, education, agricultural, budget and procurement systems.

“The vision is to develop an open data community bringing together government, civil society organizations, media practitioners, developers, academia and citizenry to interact with one another through an open data portal,”  said Edwin Opare,  an official at the Ghana Open Data Initiative (GODI).

The National Information Technology Agency under the Communication Ministry originally spearheaded the process that began in 2010. The platform was eventually deployed by the GODP technical team with the Web Foundation as advisers.

GODI, in collaboration with the World Bank Institute, Google and the African Media Initiative, organized a Data Journalism Workshop to train journalists, software developers and civil society to develop applications on open data ahead of the official launch of the Portal by December 2013. Building this expertise is an important step towards unlocking the full potential of open data.

It is anticipated that over time through the platform decision and policy making will become based on accurate data. This is a real advantage. Another expected effect is an increase in transparency and well as a decrease in corruption. Experience with open data platforms in other developing countries has shown that people take keen interest once they have access to information -  for example civil society will be able to check how much money was spend for their local school and see for themselves if it adds up.

Improved public services, economic growth, transparency and accountability are some of the benefits that are strongly linked to access to open data.

The GODI Technical Team is working to continuously improve the portal by introducing interesting visualizations of data and user-friendly applications that are so crucial in promoting understanding amongst end-users.  Feedback will also be very welcome.

Come see for yourself: http://data.gov.gh