Annual Report

March 2022 - February 2023

Director's note

This period has been a year of community. That has been expressed both in our significant focus on community engagement in particular, but also in our efforts to start building our internal team for carrying out a sustainable vision for our impactful future.

The year has been marked by a gradual organisational shift to diversified income streams in response to the merging grant and investment landscape. We have initiated a new “Funding Strategy”, giving us a new way to plan for, and measure of, our sustainability. It’s been an exciting exercise, and our team’s incredible adaptability has demonstrated how we live our agile truth.

We have been thinking a lot about how we measure impact and how we measure with (an exercise we’ve carried over into the next financial year. Our goals are becoming more refined (building on our roots in both open data and software as well as in civic technology) to appreciate our role is facilitative and expansive, increasingly seeking to build capacity in other entities in the long-term for a more sustainable environment for responsible social impact technology. Whilst we have often spoken about tech as merely a tool, we are getting better at emphasising at how process (including development process) matters for the ultimate impact of an intervention. 

As we adapt our business model and organisational model, we expect it to be a bumpy ride - but it is a ride guided but a very strong mission and vision of an empowered African future.

Please enjoy our report! The narrative chiefly covers our financial year, which runs from 1 March 2022 to 28 February 2023. It has been a busy, hard year - but it is leading us to a new age for OpenUp that we are all incredibly excited for.

All the best,

Gabriella Razzano

Who we are

We are developers, designers, consultants and trainers who use data, technology, agile processes and cutting edge design to solve the challenges that regularly stifle impact and innovation across the developing world.

High-level achievements

Remote-first going forward

Whilst maintaining our beloved Codebridge space, we have continued as a remote-first working model to allow the team flexibility.

A focus on community

We had a strong community-based focus for the year's activities; and we have learned a lot, leading us to a re-imagining of the Citizen Engagement Programme in 2023.

A diversified income stream

We are exploring a variety of solutions for promoting a healthy, collaborative, effective and fun We have successfully embedded a model that allows us to sustain ourselves on diversified income streams, moving away from grant dependency. -friendly work space.

What people say about our tools

National Lottery Explorer

“A special thanks to Shaun for remaining committed to this tool. Donors often ask about impact: this simple tool has so far helped expose hundreds of millions of rands in Lottery corruption. Much of it would never have been exposed without the tool and OU’s hard work. And this figure, which is heading towards a billion rands stolen by tsotsis, and keeps growing as we expose more and more fraud and corruption.”

Visit this tool


OpenUp is a national treasure. I learned so much about the township I grew up in (Osizweni) through Wazimap… it was like meeting my people all over again, and it helped me to contextualise the struggles I see whenever I visit home (14k annual median income, population age distribution etc.). You guys really are peerless. Great job

Visit this tool

Codebridge Youth

The group activity [was exciting]... identifying issues in our community, doing research about it, checking the IDP and municipality budgets… presenting it to the rest of the class and getting feedback about it.

Visit this tool

Youth Explorer

We are using a lot of information from Youth Explorer [in the mPowa app] and it's helping a lot.

Visit this tool


For me this training was life changing. I've learnt to do sprint planning properly!

Medicine Price Registry

I want to commend you for creating the most usable and user friendly service to review current available medication options with prices.

Visit this tool

Local Elections Dashboard

"This is a gamechanger" (speaking about the SANEF election dashboard).

Visit this tool

Matzikama IDP Tool

I do not think I have seen anything as beautiful and informative as this website. This is excellent work!


OpenUp seeks to empower people and government, through data, technology and innovative-thinking, to become active agents in creating positive social change.

We believe data and technology are assistive, and that process matters.We believe in open-first. Our mission and impact metrics are increasingly informed by the SDGs, to help us better contribute to a global community of impact technology activists.


OpenUp can create positive change in these systems, by:

Building impact-centred tools and technology


Making data, opening data and creating data pipelines


Building evidence and knowledge


Training, passing on skills and consulting on technology for impact


Engaging stakeholders, communities and knowledge-sharing


Connecting government & citizens

How we do it

OpenUp services our civic technology roots through a variety of projects that seek to bring government and citizens closer together through data, technology and innovative-thinking. The advancement of active citizenship must consider the real conditions of the citizens and South African residents whose rights we hope to advance. OpenUp views user-centred design as not just a method for creating more effective technologies, but also as a method for empowering the communities we work with within the technology development process itself.

Hands on training at our offices in Newlands
OpenUp services our civic technology roots through a variety of projects that seek to bring government and citizens closer together through data, technology and innovative-thinking.

Open budget information

OpenUp drives two significant South African Projects, which advance budget and financial management data and information. Vulekamali is a collaborative project with the National Treasury and Imali Yethu, which makes government budget data and processes accessible to all. Munimoney is a collaborative project with the National Treasury and Imali Yethu, which makes municipal-level budget and financial management data and processes accessible to all. The unique government-civil society collaborations constitute essential open data infrastructure in the South African landscape.

Vulekamali was even awarded the 17th Public Sector Innovation Award of 2019, under the Innovations Enhancing 4IR Solutions Category. We believe this award highlights Vulekamali as a flagship exercise demonstrating the advancement of SDG 17.17, as an effective public, public-private and civil society partnership for the advancement of transparency.

Our Data Quest in Limpopo using the Vulekamali platform
Vulekamali was even awarded the 17th Public Sector Innovation Award of 2019, under the Innovations Enhancing 4IR Solutions Category.

Forwarding our transparency agenda, we also have multiple Application Programming Interfaces on our data products, which are actively used by civil society and the private sector (and we also have 196 Github repositories). Our Vulekamali open data store hosts over 2400 datasets. Munimoney’s API provides access to over 78 384 572 “facts”!

Open data metrics


Github Repositories


Datasets hosted through Vulekamali

~78 million

Data points available through Munimoney API

ToolUsersNew usersSessionsAve. Time
Vulekamali (main)19,67519,54222,5921.25
Munimoney Data Portal4,3444,2676,6801.54

User numbers of relevance in the reporting period

Youth activism

The youth are of course a large, essential corpus of our democratic actors. To advance active citizenship, you must advance active youth citizenship. During the year, we continued to use the Codebridge Youth programme as a key programme for our advancing youth-driven vision. We held several youth engagements and events, and it was a significant area of investment for the organisation. Importantly, a Namibia footprint - in the Rosh Pinah Codebridge Youth community - continued.

Bergrivier youth capacity building workshop
Cape Agulhas youth yorkshop
We held several youth engagements and events, and it was a significant area of investment for the organisation.

We drive youth work both through our own programmes, but also through our support of other organisation’s youth programmes. There is our collaboration for providing centralised youth data to better inform youth-related policy through Youth Explorer, You can also view our support of the Basic Package of Support Case Management System, in collaboration again with the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, which allows youth coaches to track their support to young South African job seekers. In the last 28 days the system may have only had 16 frequent users, but these users have participated in over 15000 individual events through the system.

Stellenbosch data literacy workshop
ToolUsersNew usersSessionsAve. Time
Youth Explorer∼2000∼2000∼31000.19

User numbers of relevance in the reporting period

Intensifying impact

How we do it

OpenUp’s expertise is in open-data powered, responsible innovation, which we leverage to help advance the positive impacts of a range of civil society partners. As part of our growth strategy (both economic, but also in terms of influence), we have also begun great collaborations with like-minded private sector entities like the SIOC Community Development Trust and Impact Amplifier.


Advancing housing - and housing security - are vital for the advancement of South Africa’s Constitutional goals, as well as an advancement of the SDG 11 to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. OpenUp have collaborated with a number of civil society groups to construct Evictions Guide, South Africa’s only easily accessible, digital guide to navigating evictions processes for the advancement of human rights. We saw a dramatic surge in the use of the site after lockdown, and the ensuing economic instability this wrought, which has led to a continued relevance for a wide range of actors.

Our eviction guide provides information for tenants facing unlawful eviction.

In the reporting period, we also began collaborating with Ndifuna Ukwazi on the People’s Land Map which provides an interactive map demonstrating public land availability in the City of Cape Town.

ToolUsersNew usersSessionsAve. Time
Evictions Guide68,43668,89382,6291.57

User numbers of relevance in the reporting period


Data and technology have significant potential to help advance health and the SDG Goal 3 to “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. In the reporting year, we conducted a seminal collaborative project with the Witzenberg Justice Coalition. After conducting data workshops with the community in Witzenberg, they self-selected an interest in health data from the community. We then capacitated the community itself to collect data on health services - which was then used by the community to conduct advocacy with health authorities of relevance to the region. This revolutionary form of bottom-up data collection has great lessons for broader data governance discussions on trust and responsible data.

After conducting data workshops with the community in Witzenberg, they self-selected an interest in health data from the community.
Data workshops with the Witzenberg community

Climate change

The climate crisis makes the advancement of climate justice a moral imperative, and is an important component of the sustainable development agenda (see for instance SDG 13 to “[t]ake urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”). In the reporting period, OpenUp elected to focus a number of activities within our partnership in the Africa Data Hub to drive climate focused initiatives, such as our development of the Climate Observer and our initiation of work on a climate justice interactive story.

We also continued to invest into collaborations around Water Wazi. Our collaborations with GroundUp and CCIJ led to the “Rivers of Sewage” data story, which was in fact shortlisted for a Sigma Journalism Award in 2023 and a Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism, 2022.

Advancing transparency

Advancing access to data and information is a vital component of the advancement of active citizenship, but also democracy more broadly. A number of our partners recognise this vital intersection. We partnered with My Vote Counts, for instance, to make an interactive dashboard for exploring political party funding data.

We have continued to partner with the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (a partnership which has been going in various forms since 2013) to design and host both the main parliamentary website - the Parliamentary Monitoring Group - and its sister site on elected officials - People’s Assembly

The Medicines Pricing Registry remains a historical flagship OpenUp product, which simply and effectively provides users with regulated medicines pricing in South Africa in order to empower individual health decisions.

The Medicines Pricing Registry remains a historical flagship OpenUp product, which simply and effectively provides users with regulated medicines pricing in South Africa in order to empower individual health decisions.

Our National Lotteries Tool remains an excellent example not just of the potential of open data for accountability, but also the nuance of impact (as well as delays in the impact of tools over time). Beginning in 2019, the tool was built in collaboration with investigative journalist Raymond Joseph to help make information about Lottery grants more transparent and keyword searchable. All the information in the tool is from publicly available NLC annual reports. The tool demonstrates how the “number of users” may not always be sufficient for understanding the true scale of impact. Our National Lotteries tool may have only had 200 or so users in the reporting period, but who has used it has been dramatically impactful. The tool drove Ray’s  concerted investigations into fraud in our National Lotteries Board. This reporting not only won him the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism, but also directly contributed to the Special Investigating Unit launching an investigation into the Lotteries Board - which has resulted in a preservation order recovering millions of rands. Impacts like these directly contribute to advancing SDG 16.6 - helping to develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels, and SDG 16.5 - substantially reducing corruption and bribery in all their forms.

ToolUsersNew usersSessionsAve. Time
Parliamentary Monitoring Group3,6929073,646,7484,443,8900.41
Peoples Assembly510,425502,953629,1331.16
Medicines Pricing Register45,0374,536100,6892.57
SA National Lotteries Tool2432414250.44

User numbers of relevance in the reporting period

Geo-spatial data and Wazimap

We officially launched our product site for Wazimap Next generation in the reporting period, which can be viewed here. We are waiting on tenterhooks for the census data 2022 to be uploaded across our instances. Our clients are wide-ranging, providing a comprehensive GIS and data analysis tool for local governments, civil society organisations, research entities, and corporate social responsibility programmes.

Using Youth Explorer as a powerful tool for data training and community analysis.
ProfileGeographyMain partner
Africa Data HubWorldOpen Cities Lab, Gates Foundation
GDC ProjectsSouth Africa boundaries with wardsGIZ
Healthy AgeingWorldSIFAR, World Health Organisation
Namibia Wazi2015 Namibia BoundariesTrevali
OpenUp WaziSouth Africa boundaries with wardsOpenUp
SANEF Local government election dashboardSouth Africa boundaries with wardsSANEF
SIOC dashboardSouth Africa boundaries with wardsSIOC
Water WaziWorldCCIJ, Code for All
Water Wazi ZASouth Africa boundaries with wardsCCIJ
Who What WhereSA 2011 main places with 2016 munisSIFAR
Youth Explorer2011 SA BoundariesSALDRU, the Presidency
GCRO Quality of Life (QoL) surveyGautengGauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO)

List of active Wazimap profiles

Building methods

How we do it

A significant focus of aims to build up the data capacities of both our government and civil society partners was expressed during the year in the development of data dashboards. We believe that data and technology are a potential source of empowerment, but in addition the incorporation of innovation methods like agile project management, and user-centred design, are also a necessary focus.

Datafying organisations

Investing in datafication empowers civil society and social impact organisations to enhance transparency, streamline operations, and demonstrate tangible outcomes. By harnessing the power of data, these organisations can optimise decision-making, amplify their impact, and foster a culture of accountability in pursuit of their mission. We have helped organisations SIOC Community Development Trust develop impact data dashboards, and the SALDRU Basic Package of Support Case Management System is an example of digitising existing processes for beneficial data gains.

Civic tech ecosystem building

For technology-driven impact to flourish in the region, we need a vibrant and sustainable civic tech ecosystem. To contribute to this ecosystem, OpenUp regularly engages in conference and presentation activities, like:


Presentation to the Western Cape Thusong Programme Forum.


Presentation on “AI and Democracy” at the African Observatory on Responsible Artificial Intelligence’s “Co-Creating the Research Agenda for Responsible AI” Conference.


Presentation to the Embassy of Sweden’s “International Women's Day” event.


Presentation to the De Montfort University’s panel on “Artificial Intelligence, Global Differences and Inequalities: Challenges and Responsibilities for Researchers and Innovators”.


Presentation to the AU-EU Digital Dialogues.


Presentation at the Western Cape Government’s panel: “Futurecasting: Cybersecurity”.


Presentation to the Accountability Lab’s “HackCorruption” event.


Presentation at the Annual Social Justice Summit and International Conference on Social Justice 2022.


Lecture to the Centre of Human Rights data protection course titled: “Socio-economic rights, social protection programmes and data protection in Africa”. 


Presentation at the UN Sciences Summit on the panel: “Global South 4 Better AI Futures: Ethical AI and the achievement of UN SDGs”.


Keynote address at the PyConZA 2022.


Presentation at the ZA Internet Governance Forum 2022.


Presentations and workshops at the Civic Tech Innovation Forum & Jamfest #Unplugged 2022.

We also began collaborating with the Civic Tech Innovation Network on a comprehensive guide on funding and financing strategies to help create sustainable civic technology organisations. The project is to be completed in the next financial year.

Building knowledge

OpenUp has been developing our Knowledge Works as a programmatic vehicle for both our TrainUp (our training programme) and research-related materials for helping build knowledge in the responsible social impact technology ecosystem.

The TrainUp programme is becoming increasingly active, and we are diversifying our training offerings. Whilst we have comprehensive data journalism and data storytelling offerings, we also now offer options on agile development processes, responsible community data collection, technology for impact, and responsible data practices for social impact. 

We have begun moving to collaborate increasingly with researchers and other knowledge makers to help influence important narrative from a responsible social impact technology perspective. We believe practice and research must align. A specific collaboration of note in the area is our support and development of the African Observatory on Responsible Artificial Intelligence’s highly interactive website.

ToolUsersNew usersSessionsAve. Time
African Observatory on Responsible Artificial Intelligence8278281,4412.42

User numbers of relevance in the reporting period

Organisational highlights


OpenUp continues our professionalisation goals. A significant policy win in the year was the completion and implementation of our Funding Strategy for 2022-2024.The three pillars of the Strategy focus on Sustainability, Performance and Capacity.

Staffing and Staff Development

We had a significantly larger team this year than in previous years in relation to ful-time and part-time employees, with 18. Most of this growth has been directed to drive our Citizen Engagement Programme activities. 

We continued with our remote-first policy, whilst maintaining our Cape Town office. We are beginning to experience some of the challenges in this model - including higher organisational costs for collaboration, but also challenges in project management and team morale. 

Our team building this year started at a very (unrelaxed) Total Ninja outing in Cape Town, and ended with a (very relaxed) lunch at Mykonos Greek Restaurant in Claremont.

Lailah and Damian square off at our team building event at Total Ninja
Followed by lunch and drinks at Mykonos in Claremont

Software Development

We generally adopt a low tech approach; technology is a tool, and as such must be context specific. This means actively choosing interventions that prioritise usability over stack preference — for instance, we have significantly benefited from the use of for helping to implement highly responsive, simple websites, rather than pursuing on phone applications requiring software (unless necessary). You can read about our preferred tech stack here

Our development philosophy is fundamentally open (and open source). This contributes not just to transparency and re-use, but also to sustainability for public service development (it means we avoid vendor lock-in, in particular). As part of this too, we are proud of our Github contributions, which can be reviewed here: This is in itself an indication of our contribution to the development of a capacitated and socially focused civic technology community, where we have almost 200 repositories with multiple forks and a few hundred stargazers.

This year has seen a significant increase in the data dashboard support we provide to civil society and government partners.

Financial Summary

OpenUp has put in place a Funding Strategy to help guide our targets, and help move us toward the building of an operational reserve.

In 2022-2023, OpenUp’s general total income R13 903 303 - a 24% increase in income, which was 6% above our target growth rate. However, the income was heavily weighted to grant income, and deviated from our target of grant: project income at 4:3.

Our employee and contractor costs remain the bulk of our expenditure, but we see a 140% growth in expenditure on software and hosting costs, largely as a result of our technical skills diversifying - leading to a reliance on more software products (most of which are subscription based).


Meet our board members:

Adi Eyal

Gabriella Rozzano

Jason Norwood-Young

Emma Taya Darch

Andrew Thomas-Woolf

2022 Catalogue