Supporting Young African Data Champions

This summer a unique collaboration convened by the Data Collaboratives for Local Impact asked, “How might we encourage young leaders to leverage data for better decision making?”

Samhir Vasdev
Sep 26, 2017 · 4 min read

This blog post was published as part of the Data Zetu project. Data Zetu is now an initiative of the Tanzania dLab, a local NGO that promotes innovation and data literacy through a premier center of excellence. For more information about the dLab, visit www.dlab.or.tz. For more information about the Data Zetu project, visit www.irex.org.

Four “data ambassadors” and young leaders from Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire joined data-driven organizations in Washington DC in August 2017.

Last month the Data Collaboratives for Local Impact program (DCLI), through the Data Zetu project, hosted four Mandela Washington Fellows in Washington DC for a month-long “data collaboratives for local impact” practicum. The practicum brought together four brilliant young leaders — three from Tanzania, one from Cote d’Ivoire — with three outstanding host organizations who work regularly to foster better use of data to achieve the sustainable development goals.

These Fellows were hosted by Development Gateway, Global Integrity, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation — organizations who deeply value the role that good data sharing and use can play in optimal decision-making, better development, and helping us achieve the SDGs. Embedding these Fellows within these groups helped to foster more meaningful collaboration around their specific data needs, and it’s a model that’s been proven by one of Data Zetu’s partners, IREX. As implementer of the USAID- and US Department of State- funded component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), IREX connects tomorrow’s leaders and with hundreds of public, private and nonprofit partners, such as universities, across the United States and sub-Saharan Africa.

Reflections from the Fellows

The illustrious DCLI Fellows reflected on how the month’s practicum helped nurture skills and value for data in their everyday lives.

Issa Mmbaga, from Tanzania:

Idriss Kone, from Côte d’Ivoire:

Ernest Futta, from Tanzania:

Vicensia Fuko, from Tanzania:

Beyond the Fellowship

Experiences like these don’t only support the Fellows. Agnieszka Rawa, DCLI Managing Director, explains:

These data ambassadors will use this knowledge to continue doing incredible things for their communities and countries.

To enable the fellow to become data ambassadors, we also partnered with School of Data to work on some specific, tailored data skills. David Opoku, a trainer at School of Data, designed and delivered a custom data skills training that complemented the Fellows’ experience.

David Opoku, from School of Data:

In keeping with Data Zetu’s commitment to open-source methodologies, the curriculum that School of Data delivered is available for anyone to re-use here(there are many other data skills training and resources available, including a curriculum designed by the Open Data Institute, a partner of the Data Zetu sister program dLab).

At its core, the DCLI practicum demonstrates how we can foster burgeoning interest and potential among youth around the world in engaging with the data revolution. A key part of this experiment is ensuring that it’s not isolated, so here are a couple next steps:

  1. The DCLI Practicum Fellows have been developing a join project about data use based on the insights, opportunities, and gaps they observed during the Practicum. Some of these ideas could overlap with and be supported by Data Zetu or other DCLI partners.
  2. Later this month, School of Data will host its annual “Summer Camp” at the dLab in Tanzania, where over 80 data enthusiasts from four continents, as well as up to 20 other YALI Fellows and Alumni, will train on data use together with over 40 of School of Data’s trainers and fellows — introducing them to a vast global network of data enthusiasts and ambassadors.

These are just two exciting next steps to foster a culture of data use among the continent’s future leaders. Do you have ideas on how we can encourage more young leaders to use data for improved decision making? Leave a comment if so!

Data Zetu

Amplifying citizen's voices through better use of data. This blog is now maintained by the Tanzania dLab, a local NGO promoting innovation and data literacy through a premier center of excellence. Learn about the dLab at www.dlab.or.tz and the Data Zetu project at www.irex.org

Samhir Vasdev

Written by

Tech, design, strategy. Advisor for Digital Development at IREX.

Data Zetu

Data Zetu

Amplifying citizen's voices through better use of data. This blog is now maintained by the Tanzania dLab, a local NGO promoting innovation and data literacy through a premier center of excellence. Learn about the dLab at www.dlab.or.tz and the Data Zetu project at www.irex.org

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