The following piece was authored by Kevin Fischer, IGD Networks and Resource Development Associate.
Data is one of the most useful tools a business can use. It provides information on customers, ecosystems, market trends, population demographics, economic statistics – key components of a business’s success. In just the last two years, over 90 percent of the world’s data has been gathered, using new ways to capture and disseminate information. Innovative companies, such as Google, IBM, and IGD member company, Microsoft, all have comprehensive ways of collecting data and using it to enhance their products, and their businesses.
However, this wealth of information is still underutilized by the business community. Large, raw data sets are available for anyone to use and manipulate, thanks to contributions from government, non-governmental organizations and a few private companies. This ‘open data’ is free to access and allows companies to utilize information for their benefit. One example of this comes from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an innovative and independent U.S. foreign aid agency. MCC provides information businesses can use to calculate business start-up indicators in Senegal or trade policy indicators in Rwanda. This data is utilized by executives to make decisions about the smartest places for their company to invest, all free of charge thanks to open data.
Together, the Initiative for Global Development and the MCC are launching an “Open Data” campaign, focusing on sub-Saharan Africa. We recognize that the best way to end poverty, and achieve sustainable economic development, is through business investment. That’s why we’re increasing awareness about existing open data sets, to provide businesses with the tools and information they need to make a difference in high-need, high-potential regions of Africa.
Through the #Data4Africa campaign, IGD and MCC will survey companies and private organizations to learn more about how they use and access data. We will engage business leaders and improve access to open data initiatives, to drive business-led economic growth in Africa.
Join IGD as it embarks on the promotion of open data for Africa. Share questions on the official twitter page @MCCtweets and @IGDleaders, and connect to the conversation using #Data4Africa.