Learner’s Submission: Open Data Portal – Edo State Government, Nigeria

“The online public service that I have made use of in my home country is the Edo State Open Data Portal which is the only online state public service in Nigeria and first sub-national portal in the continent of Africa.

It is a new initiative by the Edo State Government to make information more readily available to those who need it, enhance transparency in government and encourage investors. It is an online platform which makes it easy for the citizenry to access and reuse data from the Edo State Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies free of charge.

The Edo State Open Data Portal which is powered by the Edo State Information and Communications Technology Agency (ICTA) is aimed at improving Government and nipping the embarrassing phenomenon of ghost workers, wastages and misuse of public information and other forms of resource misuse in the bud, empower citizens and ultimately reduce government expenditure, and also effectively break away from the bureaucratic bottle-necks usually experienced while soliciting for information that should normally be made available to the public on request as well as the slow pace of Government officials when speed is of utmost importance.

All that anybody who is in need of information has to do is to have access to the internet and log on to data.edostate.gov.ng where the visitor can randomly search for any information of her/his choice, provided it is in relation to the state and within the purview of its concerns. One could also click on individual hyper links which the reader can directly follow, depending on what is desired by the visitor or available for view.
Being the first online public service in the state, it will take a thorough and extended effort to make Edo State Government data truly useful. Stakeholders expect to have improved data quality. Agencies will have to begin improving the quality of their data simply to avoid public embarrassment.

Up to now, the government’s release of open data has largely been a one-way affair: Agencies publish datasets that they hope will be useful without consulting the organizations and companies that want to use it. The government is therefore expected to build feedback loops from data users to government data providers.

Open data is also of value for government itself as it can increase government efficiency. For example, if the Edo State Ministry of Education can publish all of their education-related data online for re-use, the number of questions they receive will obviously drop, reducing work-load and costs, and the remaining questions will also be easier for civil servants to answer, because it is clear where the relevant data can be found.

Open government data can also help citizens make better decisions in life and make them more active in society. People can easily re-use cadastral information from government data as well as local registers to publish information which helps them find public utilities such as public toilets, public libraries, public parks, hotels, etc.
New combinations of data can create new knowledge and insights, which can lead to whole new fields of application. This potential can be unleashed if government data is really open, i.e. if there needed information are actually available and there are no restrictions (legal, financial or technological) to its re-use by others. Every restriction will exclude people from re-using the public data, and make it harder to find valuable ways of doing so.” – Uhunwa Benard Otamere – Edo State, Nigeria

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