GODI 2016 Results

Open Knowledge International’s (OKI) Global Open Data Index (GODI) 2016 Results are released! GODI is “an annual effort to measure the state of open government data around the world.” Open Data Durban had the opportunity to help contribute to the GODI for 8 Southern African countries including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho. Now that the results are out, how do South Africa and Southern Africa fair when it comes to government sharing data?

Map of GODI Scores

The GODI Methodology

Firstly, how are the countries ranked? Volunteers like myself contribute to measuring the openness of government data for a place which consists of in-depth research to answer surveys on a range of data categories which are:

  • National Maps
  • National Laws
  • Government Budget
  • Government Spending
  • National Statistics
  • Administrative Boundaries
  • Procurement
  • Pollutant Emissions
  • Election Result
  • Weather Forecast
  • Water Quality
  • Locations
  • Draft Legislation
  • Company Register
  • Land Ownership

The survey questions are based on:

  • Is the data collected by the government (or a third-party related or linked to the government)?
  • Is the data available online without the need to register or request access to the data?
  • Is the data available online at all?
  • Is the data available free of charge?
  • Where did you find the data?
  • How much do you agree with the following statement: “It was easy for me to find the data.”
  • Is the data downloadable at once?
  • Data should be updated every [Time Interval]: Is the data up-to-date?
  • Is the data openly licensed/in public domain?
  • Is the data in open and machine-readable file formats?
  • How much human effort is required to use the data

Based on the results of these questions for each data category a score is given. If the data is open (have an open licence) a maximum score of 100% is given. If the data is public (online without access control) then a score up to 80% is given, if the data is access controlled (registration needed to access data) then a score of up to 85% is given. Lastly, if there are data gaps (government does not produce this data) a score of maximum score of 0% is given. Places are then ranked according to the combined results of scores for each data category and given a percentage.


The 2016 GODI consisted of surveying 94 places with Australia and Taiwan tied at first place with a score of 79%. For the southern African region, here are the results:

Rank and Total Score

Rank Place Total Score % 41 South Africa 40 75 Zambia 19 76 Namibia 17 79 Lesotho 16 81 Mozambique 15 85 Zimbabwe 13 87 Botswana 11 90 Malawi 8

Except for South Africa, these places fall well below the bottom half of rankings with rather low total scores. But is it a fair representation to compare these developing countries with developed countries such as Australia, France and Great Britain which rank in the top 5? Nevertheless, this can be indicative of the lack of knowledge on open data, government sharing of data, resources and technology experienced by developing countries

Scores for African countries

According to the results for these southern African countries, none of their respective governments shares data that is openly licensed, in an open and machine-readable format, downloadable at once, up-to-date, publicly available and free of charge for the following data categories: Administrative Boundaries, Locations, Water Quality and Land Ownership. Many of these places experience severe water quality issues, and having this data open can aid in decision making to improve water quality. Government Budgets and National Statistics are the most highly scored categories. Company Register, Air Quality, Weather Forecast, National Maps and Election Results have scores for only one of the eight places.

The Open Government Partnership South Africa has been trying to implement several open government initiatives with the South African government. These initiatives include Accountability, Citizen Participation, Technology and Innovation and Transparency. Hopefully, initiatives such as these will encourage governments to publicly share data. Durban’s eThekwini municipality is currently working on an open data policy. I do hope this encourages other city governments to adopt open data policies and I hope to see the GODI for the southern African countries to significantly improve in the coming years.

The most important point to note is that none of the southern African countries government data is “open” as open data is defined according to the “Open Definition”. The Open Definition was created in 2005 and 12 years on, only 10 % of the dataset entries in the index are open. I do hope that initiatives such as the Global Open Data Index educates countries on open data and sharing of government data. This will result in government transparency, accountability and aid in significant decision making to solve social, economic, environmental and many more intricate issues inexperienced.

– Tricia

Tricia is an OpenGov Fellow with Open Data Durban and she loves to bake.

Originally published at Open Data Durban.

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