Historic Kenya National Data Forum is a success!

The first ever national level meeting on the data revolution for sustainable development was held in Nairobi last week.  The Kenya National Forum on Harnessing the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development was officially launched by the Deputy President of Kenya, His Excellency Honourable William Samoei Ruto.

Coming as the Medium Term Plan of Kenya’s Vision 2030 is being implemented, the meeting was very timely.  Participants came from local and national government, private sector, universities, research institutions, information technology and non-profit organisations and media.

The meeting resulted from a synthesis report to the UN Secretary General in which states were encouraged to look at how data could be used to enhance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Several forums around data and the SDGs have been held at various levels, but Kenya is the first country in Africa, and perhaps the world, to hold a national meeting aimed at catalyzing the data revolution.

L-R Executive Directors Tade Aina (PASGR) and Muchiri Nyaggah (Local Development Research Institute - LDRI)

L-R Executive Directors Tade Aina (PASGR) and Muchiri Nyaggah (Local Development Research Institute – LDRI)

Committed to multi-stakeholder partnerships

PASGR spearheaded the fundraising and co-convened the meeting with several distinguished partners, including the Office of the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and Local Development Research Institute (LDRI) with the support of Ford Foundation and other key stakeholders.  “The data revolution will not stop, so we must all get on board”, commented PASGR Executive Director Tade Aina.  PASGR Board member HE Ambassador Prof Judith Bahemuka also attended the proceedings.

Speaking at the August 28-29 meeting, His Excellency the Deputy President reiterated the Kenyan government’s commitment “to create an inclusive data ecosystem involving government, private sector, academia, non-profit organisations, local communities and development partnerships to tackle the informational aspects of development decision-making in a coordinated way”.  Indeed, all these players partnered to organise the forum itself and the thematic pillar working groups that began to meet several weeks before the forum.

International stakeholders in attendance included Prof Sanjeev Khagram (Global Partnership for Sustainable Development) and Philipp Schönrock (Director CEPEI Colombia).  Paul Zeitz, Senior Advisor on Data Revolution for Sustainable Development in the US Department of State, lauded Kenya for leading by example.  He said that the United States is following the data revolution closely and is keen to help Kenya lead the world.

Driving Kenya’s data revolution

A section of the 200-plus participants at the Data Forum

A section of the 200-plus participants at the Data Forum

In Kenya, multi-stakeholder data communities inspired by the Africa Data Consensus have been convened around thematic pillars, with each working group co-chaired by civil society, government, and private sector.  The thematic pillars include education; peace and security; transport; agriculture; and crosscutting issues (gender equality, ICT, inclusivity, financial resource management, climate change).

Interested stakeholders can still join the data community of their choice by visiting the partnership website http://dataforum.co.ke  and clicking the link to join under any theme.

Going forward, PASGR plans to help initiate similar initiatives in other African countries.