From 17-18 November the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank ran two days dedicated to open data in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan is a small country in Central Asia, bordering China, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. After independence from the Soviet Union, the Kyrgyz Republic has developed into a democratic republic.
The government is committed to implement policies for open government. It has already introduced several measures such as launching open budget, e-procurement, and foreign aid portals, as well as several other websites of public agencies.
The two days kicked off with a high-level government roundtable “Open data for better public services and economic growth”. The keynote address by Prime Minister Djoomart Otorbaev showed high-level political backing for open data. Representatives from the major development agencies in Kyrgyzstan: Pradeep Sharma, from UNDP, Jean-Michel Happi, from the World Bank, were there to express their support and the UK ambassador, Judith Farnworth, highlighted the successes of open data.
The second day focused on two workshops: one concerning civil society and one about businesses using open data. Experts from around the world, including from the ODI, worked with local individuals and groups to understand the challenges and opportunities for both these sectors in Kyrgyzstan. By drawing on their global expertise, they could highlight elements of recommended practice, or demonstrate examples where open data has had a significant impact.
Kyrgyzstan is at the beginning of opening data and information for everyone. A common theme was the need for more available information on taxes, regulation and related government legislation. The lack of, for example, accessible information on import tariffs puts additional barriers on local businesses. While the first step is publishing all that is relevant, we encouraged participants to ask for more: up-to-date information, a feedback mechanism and a way of contacting the data publisher or government department are all means of making data more open.
There were representatives from two countries that have already embarked on open data initiatives - Moldova and Georgia. Both have implemented a basic, and in some instances advanced, open data framework and are ready for engaging with the private sector more.
Next steps The next steps for Kyrgyzstan will come out of the workshop report. It will emphasise the nascent environment of open data and IT infrastructure in general, which requires the continued support of the government. It will also highlight that the legislation required for an open data initiative needs to be passed soon. More information on the Open Data Readiness Assessment methodology can be found at the World Bank.