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Sierra Leone to host first open data festival By Francess Panda

26,Feb 2016
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Government through the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC) with support from the World Bank will host the first open data festival, which will be the first in West Africa.
Briefing both the electronic and print media at the Ministry of Information and Communication conference room, the Chairman for RAIC, Unisa Sesay stated that the commission was established with a clear mandate to make information available to the masses, and sees its role in increasing the supply of open aid data by making it readily available to the extent possible.
Also, to improve how data is accessed, he said the RAIC is doing everything possible to make it more accessible and to make them aware of what rights they have in gaining such access, addressing the demand side of the commission’s role.
Mr Sesay noted that the data fest will bring into discussion the achievements of the 17 sustainable development goals for Sierra Leone as it will target all development and justice sectors nationwide.

He furthered that data and records management is at it very low ebb as efforts are being made by donors and the government to promote data and information management.
In this regard, the RAIC Chairman confirmed that Sierra Leone is now ready for the information superhighway and its citizens are keen in benefitting from the data festival in April, but Sierra Leone will join the rest of the world to commemorate International Open Data Day on the 5th of March.
Deputy Minister of Information and Communication, Theo Nicol reminded the media about their obligations to the public when disseminating news content, noting that facts, data and statics are very vital in news dissemination.
He said  Sierra Leone is already behind to catch up with the rest of the world, therefore this opportunity given with support from the World Bank should be taken seriously as it is not only the business of the ministry and the RAIC, but the general public should be excited and be fully involved.
Mr Nicol explained the uniqueness and benefits of open data, noting that it will educate, inform, promote commerce as well as entertain.
He said with the fibre optic, open data will also improve information sharing among Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on public data management for effective service delivery, and as a result huge paper files will reduce and loss of data information, both public and private, will be a thing of the past.
The Deputy Information Minister called on young people to take advantage of the data festival, which will take place in April, noting that some of them have huge potentials and they need to be creative, to come up with innovations that will take the country to another level.
Maurice Marah, a young innovator who owns a technology innovation laboratory at Aberdeen said young people need to be involved and be creative, emphasising that technology and practical ideas when merged will create new innovations to move the country forward.
He urged that both public and private sectors come on board for more technology laboratories to be established for open data to facilitate economic, social and cultural interaction.
Speaking on behalf of the World Bank, Dr Peter Kaidaneh stated that the World Bank is involved in the data fest 2016 as a result of the bank’s support to the open portal.
He maintained that the objective of the data fest is to raise the awareness of open data and its importance to economic development through a multi stakeholder process.


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