ANIC is looking for ideas that will transform the way that African media work. This means that your idea should offer significant and tangible improvements to existing tools or techniques, or should propose new ways for African journalists to gather news, tell stories, engage with audiences, or sustain media organisations.
Ideas that have the potential to be replicated or that could scale continentally will have an advantage.
Improve African media’s insight into and analysis of government fiscal management by creating an AfricanSpending portal supported by a fellowship programme.
Not in Africa. OpenSpending works globally, but there is no pan-Africa effort to analyse or track fiscal transparency amongst African governments. No-one offers media fellowships to give journalists fiscal data wrangling skills.
African journalists seldom have the fiscal insight or technical skill to “map the money” in government budgets or public spending. As a result, media coverage is shallow, reactive, and fails to tell citizens how government action impacts their personal and local lives. AfricaSpending changes this by giving journalists powerful analytical tools and skills.
AfricaSpending’s strategy is twofold: first, we will build an open access AfricanSpending portal that ‘liberates’ government budget and other fiscal data (including donor aid and corporate data, etc), offering powerful data visualisation and analysis toolkits, as well as the raw data itself. Second, we will run a fellowship programme to bring six fellows annually to OpenSpending in Berlin, two at a time for three months each, to learn how to work with the data, how to build new tools, and how to produce compelling journalism from the data that demystifies budgets into information that ordinary citizens understand and care about.
This project is a partnership between Open Knowledge Foundation‘s (OKFN) OpenSpending initiative and the Kenya-based Open Institute (OI). OI is a NPO ‘think / do’ tank of open data experts that already manages landmark journalism technology programmes, including the Code4Kenya initiative that embeds coders into newsrooms, and Africa’s only continent-wide data journalism bootcamps (sponsored by the WorldBankInstitute). These initiatives are already resulting in new data-driven tools, apps, and evidence-based reportage. OKFN is a global NPO that promotes open content, including journalism programmes ranging from the Data Journalism Handbook and School of Data, to Spending Stories and other data narratives that seek to make public data accessible to anyone on the planet.
A team of African volunteers has built an experimental AfricaSpending portal with budget data from Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. It serves as proof-of-concept that we can transform analogue budgets into digital datasets. The more sophisticated OpenSpending platform is already a mature technology for budget visualisation and analysis. It contains 150 datasets from 30 countries with powerful interactive visualizations for exploring data. AfricaSpending uses OpenSpending as a backend platform. Visualizations and tools built for either site will be shared between the projects. To go public, AfricaSpending needs serious coding work, data collection, and new visualisation tools.
Getting international users to adopt the OpenSpending platform and to contribute functions, visualizations and data will increase its chances of long-term sustainability. The project is intended to kickstart a discussion about technological exchange, and it will be the responsibility of everyone involved to make sure that this conversation is ongoing.