Data for Policy Holds Strategic Consultation Meeting in Nairobi

Sep 11, 2023

Last week, the Data for Policy team was on the road again, this time to Nairobi, Kenya.

As part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-sponsored project on maximising Sub-Saharan Africa participation in the data for policy community, we organised a strategic consultation meeting with key stakeholders from East and South African regions. Our co-host for the meeting was the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), a state corporation with a mandate to develop human and institutional capacities that can contribute to Kenya’s economic and social development strategy. Organised and facilitated by Diasmer Bloe (Data for Policy), the convening was held at the Radisson Blu hotel, in Nairobi’s Upper Hill business district. Virtual participation was facilitated by Peter Agamile (Evans School Policy Analysis and Research Group, University of Washington) and Wendy Essuman (SpidiPay, Rwanda).

Eldah Onsomu, KIPPRA’s Director of Economic Management, and Joshua Ariga, Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation welcomed participants from academia, business and government at the start of the meeting. The opening address set the scene for the proceedings, with an outline of the activities of Data for Policy CIC and partner journal Data & Policy from Zeynep Engin (Founding Director of Data for Policy CIC and Editor-in-Chief, Data & Policy), followed by a call for action for better linkage of data with policy-making for sustainable development from Aggie Asiimwe Konde (Vice President, Programme Innovation and Delivery, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa).

Panel-led discussions followed: Joshua Ariga chaired ‘African knowledge generation and impact on regional and global stage’, with panellists Andrew Kizito Muganga (Makerere University), Lilian Kirimi (Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy & Development, Kenya), Benjamin Avusevwa (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics) and Sarah N. Ssewanyana (Economic Policy Research Centre, Uganda) considering the state of knowledge creation, diffusion and integration into policy and governance.

The morning closed with ‘Evidenced impact of African-led research at the nexus of data and policy’ chaired by Stanley Wood (Senior Program Officer, Gates Foundation).  Panellists were Violet Ibukayo Murunga (African Institute for Development Policy, Kenya), Siziwe Ngcwabe (African Evidence Network, South Africa) and Vukosi Marivate (University of Pretoria, Lelapa AI and Deep Learning Indaba & Maskhane NLP) who assessed the current status, the key players as well as supporting/countering narratives.

After a productive morning, the meeting reconvened in the afternoon with Sarah Ssewanyana providing a recap of the proceedings. Andrew Hyde (Cambridge University Press) then gave a presentation on the Data & Policy journal and its development since launch at the Data for Policy conference in 2019.

Building on the framing discussions in the morning, the meeting moved to considering a theory and model for change. Zeynep Engin chaired a panel delving into strategic areas of interest that could address identified challenges. Daisy Selematsela (CoDATA South Africa), Leonida Mutuku (Local Development Research Institute, Kenya), Momar Dieng (African Leadership University School of Business, Rwanda), Bamba Sylla (African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, South Africa) and Rachel Adams (Research ICT Africa, South Africa) conducted a lively discussion looking at emerging vision and strategy, opportunities and means of collaboration for collective planning and action. This led to a group-work session on building an activity-based delivery model for change, introduced by Joy Kiru (University of Nairobi). Key questions considered included the collective actions needed to achieve a long-term vision/strategy, as well as shorter term practical steps, and suggestions for key performance indicators.

The final part of the day entailed feedback in person and online groups and a plenary discussion on relevant action points for consideration and progress led by Eldah Onsomu (KIPPRA) and facilitated by Maureen Adoyo (Rongo University and Data for Policy). There, participants put emphasis on co-creation, co-design, coordination, and collaboration; practical actions such as training, infrastructure, and standardising interoperability for data and information sharing; and articulation of a vision of success and key stakeholders for realising said vision.

Data for Policy would like to thank everyone who was involved in making the meeting such a success. In addition to contributions highlighted above, we are indebted to Robyn Parker, and the Events team from the Gates foundation; Maureen Adoyo, Eldah Onsomu and Leigh Anderson (Evans School, University of Washington) for their assistance in and commitment to planning this event.

Data for Policy’s Sub-Saharan Engagement project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and is in collaboration with the Evans School Policy Analysis and Research Group, University of Washington.