Big Data against Corruption in Africa

Corruption erodes democracy worldwide and produces a vicious circle, where it undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption. Digital Communication Network Global — a coalition of digital influencers in the new information space — will address this important topic in the context of the rise of new communication technologies and their role on both sides of the equation.

Technology facilitates the increased risk of embezzlement, bribery, fraud and has allowed forms of corruption-driven crime to flourish even more than before. Conversely, there is a growing consensus on the role technology can play in the fight and prevention of corrupt practices. Governments, citizens and the media are using information technology to improve and check on governance, enhance public service delivery and trust, shape government-citizen-business relations, and reduce corruption. In particular, “big data” and “open data” on governance represent important new sources of information for anti-corruption efforts. Join DCN Global’s September webinarsto look at the struggle against corruption in Africa.

Key points by Ioanna Georgia Eskiadi

-Corruption emerges in many ways in Africa, yet in many occurrences, data and corruption are correlated. Democracy is threatened due to the exploitation of the data, producing a vicious circle, which undermines democratic institutions. Meanwhile, weak institutions are less able to control corruption. Technology facilitates the increased risk of embezzlement, bribery, fraud and has allowed forms of corruption-driven crime to flourish even more than before. Conversely, there is a growing consensus on the role technology plays in the fight and prevention of corrupt practices. Governments, citizens, and the media are using information technology to improve and maintain governance, enhance public service delivery and trust, shape government-citizen-business relations, and reduce corruption.

-These days, almost everyone uses big data and open data. In many countries in Africa, only now are institutions digitizing their systems and transferring them to the internet, so citizens are able to access organization’s data. Many African countries are in a transition period in the process of reforming technology. According to the speakers, for years citizens and journalists have been operating without media laws, while most institutions are not digitized and still require data to be inputted manually. The authorities generally do not give journalists access to data for publication, especially digital files. Making data and information more difficult, or even impossible, for the public to access is the simplest form of corruption. Journalists must be creative and find other means to tell the stories.

-Data journalism is a field that requires much patience and time to succeed. Most of the time, journalists need to be in contact with a person, as a means to access information. If journalists have to rely on data, the data on its own will not be able to give readers the big picture. So, it is up to journalists to use data to corroborate their stories or enlighten their readers to the entire perspective. However, governments can use these open sources to hide their citizens reality. Journalists must give people the true picture and make their readers understand that it is not journalist who are hiding data.

-Engaging with people and giving a voice to the data, to show each number is someone’s story is the best way of storytelling. Journalists need to explain complex topics, using relatable information. We are not talking about the statistics; we are talking about ways that something has impacted our life. Data journalism makes easy to tell stories. Data on its own, will not give you the full picture of what is happening. It’s important to use data to develop your story further, but not drown out the stories of those who have been affected by what you are reporting.

You can watch the virtual discussion:

Speakers:
-Keiso Mohloboli, Investigative Journalist, Lesotho
-Charles Mafa, Investigative Journalist, Zambia

Speakers Bios
Keiso Mohloboli is an award-winning Investigative Journalist with over a decade of experience, reporting on general health issues, women and girls’ empowerment, and domestic stories. She started her career in 2009 at a tender age of 23 and has since written for local media houses such as The Monitor, Mopheme, Informative, Lesotho Times and Sunday Express Newspapers based in Maseru, Lesotho. As a Lesotho stinger to media houses in the region she has written articles for South African media houses such as Daily Sun, City Press, Daily Maverick, Mail & Guardian and African Independent, African News Agency (APA in Senegal) and Southern Times (based in Namibia). She is the co-founder of MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism, the first and only institution dedicated to development of investigative reporting in Lesotho. Mohloboli also co-founded Kingdom Digital News Lesotho’s only daily news platform, of which is a Managing Director. Due to her impactful and hard-hitting reports as an investigative journalist, she was forced to flee Lesotho in fear of her life in 2016 and remained in exile until 2018 following a change of government. She is Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa’s Journalism Summer School Fellow for 2013 and World Learning Investigative Journalism Fellow — under the United States of America’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Mohloboli has a National Diploma in Communications Skills from ALISON, National Diploma in Financial Sustainability of NGOs from SCIM College Netherlands and an Honors Certificate in Media Management from University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Charles Mafa is a Zambian investigative journalist with over 20 years’ experience in the media industry. His journalism works have won him several individual recognition and awards, including the 2016 overall MISA best Zambian journalist and was second best student in the World Bank-funded investigative journalism training in 2011 which won him an internship placement at South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper. He is also the 2016 (USA) Edward R. Murrow Fellow. His journalism has appeared on the BBC radio, in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian Newspaper, the New York Times, and in several international publications. He was Associate Editor and Environmental Columnist for the Bulletin and Record Magazine until its closure in 2016. In his other previous work, he was Production Manager, cameraman and script writer for Catholic Media Services TV Production Studios. Radio provided him entry into journalism, having volunteered for several years as radio announcer and sports presenter at Yatsani and at
ZNBC in the local Lozi language section. Currently, Charles works for BBC Media Action as journalist mentor where he uses his experience and editorial strength to guide journalists working
for various radio stations across the country. He is also founder and managing partner for MakanDay Centre for Investigative Journalism –Zambia.

Moderator:
Aisha Kehoe Down, Investigative Journalist, OCCRP, Jordan

Aisha Kehoe Down is an investigative journalist at OCCRP focused on the tobacco industry, and the links between organized crime, corruption, and large multinational companies. Previously, she worked at The Cambodia Daily and the Ukraine Business Journal.

This event was co-organized by Digital Communication Network Global and World Learning and is part of DCN’s Ideas in Action — Digital Engagement, a series of virtual events launched in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. DCN is supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Citizen Exchanges. Digital Communication Network created in 2015, is a 7.000 member strong collaborative network that connects professionals from a variety of fields and different regions of the world, committed to have an impact in the new information space.

A strong collaborative network that connects professionals of the digital age from a variety of backgrounds.