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Open data on the ground: Kenya’s Data Science

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How are individuals and organizations taking advantage of the data that governments are publishing? This is part of a series looking at how data are being used for social good.  Last time we covered Nigeria’s Follow the Money Initiative, this time we’re heading to East Africa.

In Kenya, Data Science, LTD ( w is a data analysis and research company providing services to government, local organizations, and businesses. The company seeks to promote greater understanding and use of available data to gain insights for better planning, resource allocation, and entrepreneurship.  This blog post is based on a recent Google Hangout discussion with Data Science, LTD founder Linet Kwamboka.

So what is it like being a data analysis company in Kenya, and what can others learn from Linet’s experience?

Open data roots 
Linet worked on the World Bank supported as a project manager in the lead up to the initiative's launch in 2011.  The company works with clients seeking to utilize data to make better decisions.  They include private companies involved in marketing, jobs, retail, and consumer products. With government and civil society clients, the focus is to improve decision-making that lead to better public services and advocacy efforts.

Overcoming gaps in data
Linet has learned that the tasks of sourcing, analyzing, and transforming data into more readily consumed and actionable forms can take a significant amount of effort and time.  In many situations, the data simply do not exist or are out of date.  

Demographic data – such as age-related data – have traditionally seen broad use by both civil society and the private sector.  The last census in Kenya was conducted in 2009, and given the difficulty of implementation and rising costs, the next census is scheduled for 2019.  In this case, some of the predictive techniques data science offers can be useful in extrapolating from the 2009 data.
Bringing data and people together
Linet has also found that typical projects use a 50-50 split of data that are open and proprietary, and, depending on the task at hand, different tools might be used to perform analyses.

It’s not just an issue of bringing data together.  Bringing people together is just as important.  With many complex public services and community structures, different stakeholder groups often meet in isolation. One approach Linet has tried is to facilitate data-driven conversations with multiple stakeholder groups, encouraging the sharing of data held by different parties.

For example, data on government expenditure of Constituency Development Funds have always been critical for holding Members of Parliament accountable for their development spending.

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More about Data Science, LTD
To learn more about Data Science, LTD, visit or reach out to Linet Kwamboka on Twitter at both @g33kmate and @datasciencing.

World Bank Group Finances is the online access point for IBRD, IDA, and IFC open financial data. The website features datasets that cover loans, contracts, trust funds, investments, and financial statements. A related  mobile app, which allows you to “talk” to us more easily about operational and financial data in nine languages, is available for download for Android and iOS smartphone and tablet users at the  Google Store and the  iTunes Store, respectively. Follow us on  Twitter to join and remain engaged in the conversation about the Bank’s open financial data.

​The World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank are conducting a  study on open data and collecting examples of its use. You can submit your use here:
Join us on Fridays, at 10:30 AM EST for Google Hangouts discussing specific uses of open data and the interesting people behind them. See what we've covered so far and have coming up next on our  Open Data Use Hangouts Calendar.


Samuel Lee

Consultant with SuM4All

Sandra Moscoso

Deputy Program Lead - Global Media Development Programme

Linet Kwamboka

Founder and CEO of DataScience LTD

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