Prof. Wafula Muliaro, the Director ICT Centre of Excellence and Open Data (iCEOD), was declared the best champion and pioneer of open data in Kenya. The November 2016 award by the ICT Authority’s Kenya Open Data Initiative, was in recognition of Prof. Wafula’s efforts to promote open data research and consumption in the country.
Commenting on the win, iCEOD Director said it was a vote of confidence in the work he together with colleagues were doing in the emerging field of open data in the country.
“It reaffirms our desire as an institution to be a model for open data research in the region,” Prof. Wafula said.
While lauding the initiative to recognize actors in the open data ecosystem in Kenya, prof. Wafula noted that a number of bottlenecks still beset collection, preservation, use and re-use open data.
He singled out theft of intellectual property, skepticism on the utility of open data and as well as data sets which are not updated.
“Most people are operating on ‘private by default’ when it comes to sharing data sets,” he said, “yet what they hold on to could provide significant insights on our national development aspirations.”
Prof. Wafula who is also a member of the CODATA International Executive Committee, said time had come for Kenya and Africa to leverage on open data to generate informed conclusions in areas such as climate monitoring and policy making.
On November 12, 2016 iCEOD organized a hackathon on Kenyan open research data sets. The event featured developers who build innovative mobile and web applications aimed at easing access to and consumption of research data by the public.
“If we could take our data outside the confines of academia and allow developers and social entrepreneurs to harness it, we hope that they would start building applications to use this information for the public good,” Prof. Wafula said on the hackathon.
Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga commended Prof. Wafula on the award, saying the don had brought honour to JKUAT. The University, she added, will support iCEOD activities towards a greater effectiveness and visibility for the benefit of the country and beyond.
The Kenya ICT Authority has heightened efforts to ensure as much data as possible is made available for public consumption.
“Data plays an important role in governance and it is important to work together to ensure we get accurate data which can be used in various ministries to deliver services to Kenyans,” ICT Principal Secretary, Victor Kyalo said.
JKUAT is the only university in Kenya which has a dedicated directorate – iCEOD to champion open data research.