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AfricaMoney | July 25, 2017

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Mauritius’ open data program to help fuel economic growth

Mauritius’ open data program to help fuel economic growth

The World Bank and the Ministry of Technology of Mauritius are working together towards an open data program, on the understanding that data is a vital national resource that has the potential to empower Mauritians to fuel entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific discovery and economic growth. (Image: Govmu.org )

“Besides the broadening of democratic values by making available freely and openly data that does not violate the privacy of individuals, data is, by essence, a vital national resource that has the potential to empower Mauritians to fuel entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific discovery and economic growth,” said Mauritius’ Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Pravind Jugnauth.

The Minister was speaking at the opening of a workshop on Open Data Readiness Assessment organised in collaboration with the World Bank in the context of an Open Data program. Resource persons present for the event were a team of experts from the World Bank: Andrew Stott, Senior Open Data Consultant;  Anat Lewin, ICT Policy Specialist; Alla Morrison, Business Process Officer; Amparo Ballivian, Lead Economist; and, Michael Wagner, Geospatial Consultant.

There is a growing recognition from academics, tech-community and policy makers that data generated by various organisations and government institutions in the country should be made openly available so that the information can be extracted and used for public benefit.

In line with this philosophy, Mauritius will come forward with the right legal framework in context of a Freedom of Information Act, as well as for an effective open data policy with what is obtainable in respected democracies. The government believes that Mauritians deserve to receive equal treatment alongside upholding their civil and privacy rights at all times.

A properly implemented open data policy will allow people to know more about government’s activities and critical issues that affect their lives, including public health, safety, and the environment. Open data policy will also allow people to actively engage in policymaking in a thoughtful and informed manner, the TCI minister added.

Open Data Readiness Assessment for Mauritius

Mauritius is moving forward with an Open Data program conducted in partnership with the World Bank.  The World Bank team, currently in Mauritius, is assisting the country to evaluate its situation on open data readiness and provide valuable inputs that will help the country come up with the right strategy to exploit open data initiatives as is the case in large democracies like India and the United States of America.

In the context of the assessment, a series of focused meetings are being held with key stakeholders including government, citizens and businesses.  Main themes being addressed are: leadership, law, government institutions, management of data and demand for data, capabilities of business, finance and national IT infrastructure. After this, the World Bank team will produce a report with recommendations for consideration by the government.

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