The founder of Code for Africa was named alongside global pioneers such as Taiwan’s minister for digital affairs Audrey Tang, Code for America founder Jennifer Pahlka and inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee.
The list, compiled by the global policy platform Apolitical.co, was built from nominations from hundreds of digital government experts from leading organizations, including 14 national digital services, The Alan Turing Institute, the OECD – OCDE, the United Nations, Future Cities Catapult, USAID and the Open Government Partnership.
The list also highlighted the unsung heroes who are quietly and tenaciously updating the machinery of government. The first selection was generated by peer and expert nominations and the final selection was reviewed by independent experts around the world.
According to the Apolitical Website, Individuals named on the list also exerted outsize influence on the transition to digital governments, whether through policymaking, research, advocacy or other means.
“People working in digital government often go unrecognized by the wider public, yet the work they do is vital as both the opportunities and risks of digital technologies increase” says Apolitical CEO Robyn Scott. “It’s a been a joy to produce this list recognizing the most influential individuals in the field
Justin Arenstein, the Founder of Code for Africa begun his career as an anti-corruption investigative journalist in South Africa, where he launched the nation’s first rural social justice wire-service, African Eye News Service (AENS), before helping pioneer the region’s first rural lifestyle magazine publisher (HomeGrown Magazines) and Mpumalanga’s first commercial radio station (MPowerFM).
He was also instrumental in establishing three major media non-profit organisations: the continental Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR), the regional Association of Independent Publishers (AIP) in southern Africa, and the Southern African Freelance Association (SAFREA).
Arenstein spent 2009/10 on sabbatical as a Knight Fellow at Stanford University, where he explored data journalism, augmented reality and civic engagement media.
Now back in Africa, Arenstein serves as a director or advisor on various media industry boards and think-tanks. He is also currently a consultant, as a Knight International Journalism Fellow, for the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) in Washington DC, where he advises on practical business models for mobile and digital publishing across Africa using geo-locative platforms, ranging from mobile gaming and mobile social networking, to data visualisation, augmented reality and aggregation or curation of content.
Outside of ICFJ work, Arenstein advises Google on data-driven journalism and digital newsroom strategies in Africa, and also leads the African Media Initiative (AMI) digital innovation programme.
He is also an Advisory Council Member of the on the World Bank and International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Disclosure to Development (D2D) committee, which works to enhance the effectiveness of data disclosures about natural resources and extractive industries across the world.
Code for Africa is continent’s largest open data initiative with country programmes in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. In Kenya, the company forms part of our Business Network and sits on our Ngong Road Office Space.
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