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iHub By Jessica Colaço / April 25, 2011

Open Data, Predictive Analytics and Visualizations – A Game-Changer


To date the open data landscape has been largely defined by app competitions and hackathons, and while these things are good for the ecosystem, they cannot sustain it alone. This is precisely why I think we need to start thinking more aggressively about how government data could give rise to new service delivery models and how citizens can use this data to make better decisions.

We have the skill-set and talent in Kenya to create these applications, but what we lack is the data. For instance, Kenyan Contestant Athman Ali won the  Apps for Development Award for his app FactCha.

Kenyan Contestant Athman Ali wins Apps for Development Award from World Bank on Vimeo.

My point is that we should be using using quantitative methods (analytics) to derive insights from data, and then drawing on those insights to shape business decisions and ultimately, improve business performance. Thus open data, predictive analytics and visualizations is emerging as a game-changer in business world. Instead of looking backward to analyze “what happened?” predictive analytics helps management answer:

  • What is next?
  • What should we do about it?

Over the last one year, the World Bank has made tremendous progress in the open data initiative by opening its storehouse of data to the public and sharing  data visualization tools with countries.  The Kenyan government is working on a Bill that seeks to make data held by the government accessible to the public and only time will tell how soon this data will be available.

In the mean time, what are we doing to be the game changers in this economy and country? For a start we can take a look at Gap Minder.

Below are some useful links:

Thinking about Africa’s Open Data

Developers take PS to task on Open Govt. Data

Author : Jessica Colaço

Jessica Colaço is currently the Director of Partnerships at iHub. She was the Founding Manager between 2010 and 2011 at iHub and Research Director between 2011 and 2013 at iHub Research. She is passionate about Innovation, Research, Mobile and Robotics Technology, Mentorship and Entrepreneurship in Kenya as she uses her position at iHub to court local, regional and international stakeholders to adopt Kenyan-made and African-made solutions. As an upcoming angel investor, she courts local and international investors to invest in great tech ideas and companies at idea and concept stage. She is also a Mobile and Robotics Tech Evangelist, Co-Founder of WMIAfrica and AkiraChix, ISOC-Kenya Chapter, Treasurer, ACM-W Nairobi Chapter Chair, TED Global Fellow 2009 and upcoming Guitarist. She was named one of the top 40 women under 40 years in Kenya's business scene by Business Daily on 2009, 2011 and 2012. Her endeavour is to put Kenya and Africa on the map for technology achievements and spur innovation within the country and continent! She blogs at:

  • Athman Ali at 19:29:34PM Monday, April 25, 2011

    Great blog. Using data to identify areas of policy decisions and then using the same data to monitor the impact by those policy decisions is an area of work that we’ve been working on since 2003.

    Its interesting that now more than ever that technology options to deliver the same has become more accessible and more importantly more acceptable to our policy makers. Government does use data and has data, but not open. That’s the key challenge. COMESA for instance has had their comstat database for ages, not to mention the various databases by various UN agencies available online… But the use has been restricted to an audience of statisticians only. Open data makes data available and usable by the common mwanainchi… Afterall, to change the world we first must understand that world.

    At TradeMark East Africa, We are working with key partners like the Sub-saharan Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP), the Northern and Central Corridor Authorities, the East African Community and the EAC governments to manage and use such data to improve trade logistics and to bring down the cost of doing business as well as the cost of goods in landlocked countries of the EAC.

    We aim to do this through key ICT interventions on projects such as the transport observatories, electronic single windows, integrated border management and new ways of handling transit bonds using ICT. Other direct funding inputs are geared towards institutional capacity building in the collection of data and analysis of the same at key node points on the transit corridors as well as collecting data to identify and assist in the removal of tarrif and non-tariff barriers on the transit corridors.

    For more info, visit our website at or email me at

    P.S: Thanks for the mention on the award btw!

  • Cesar Harada at 06:34:41AM Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    “Thinking aggressively”, funny, I really recognize myself there :D
    So, let’s do it :)

    Feel free to edit and expand – but please – keep it readable – thanks !


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