1. Background

There is no denying that the concept of conveying information via infographics and/or data visualization is gaining tremendous ground in the statistical community. In Rwanda, Infographic competition and Rwanda data journalism award are intertwined initiatives.  Since 2012, Infographic Competitions are being organized by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) to engage student community in visualizing the statistical information produced by NISR.  This period mark the 6th   iteration of the Infographic Competition in Rwanda. The competition took roots gradually and more broadly at the intersection of data dissemination, open data, graphic design, analytics and data visualization works. Now the competition stands on the platform of porous boundaries, encouraging mix and match of skill sets appropriately.

In order to institutionalize the practice of using  data visualisation in  statistical publications and in Journalistic stories in Rwanda, it was required to bring together a team with mixed skills sets to contribute regularly in the statistical data dissemination process through data visualization and infographics, and so  their constant capacity development is undertaken.

It is in that context that, in collaboration with Media High Council (MHC) and the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century, the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) organized and conducted series of   trainings of Rwandan journalists on data visualization for storytelling over the past three years. This was done  in line with applying innovations to engage with data-seekers through outreach and dissemination activities, and leveraging on modern technologies, exploiting the most powerful trends in statistical development which are key drives of data revolution.  The aim of the trainings are to help journalists better write professional stories that help in the policy process in palatable, easy and attractive manner.

As a follow up on trainings provided to journalists and winners of infographic competition on data vizualization, NISR and partners launched a yearly data journalism award in December 2017. The mission of this award is to use journalists in data dissemination by promoting excellence and creativity in the reporting of statistics-based stories to the Rwandan public in this data revolution era when journalistic reportage requires practices that include statistical analyses, interpretations and visualization to tell complex and sensitive stories in simple and convincing way.

This new initiative recognizing outstanding works in the field of data journalism countrywide will normally be organized yearly and winners should be announced during the celebration of the African Statistics Day. The awards are given to exemplary data-driven investigations and stories; and programs and media houses that use data visualization, covering topics relevant to the general public and aiming at using data to have an impact on the society.

For the very First Edition, the awards were provided by the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century and UNICEF Rwanda.  Winners were announced and awarded on 8th December 2017.


The Data Journalism Awards competition celebrates outstanding work in the field of data journalism in Rwanda. Awards were expected to be won by any accredited media organization, or individual journalists in Rwanda. Submissions were from print, online and broadcast journalists. 

  • Entries should have been published, broadcasted or aired inEnglish , Kinyarwanda or in French,and appeared between between 1st July2017and30thNovember 2017.
  • Individual journalists and freelancers on accredited media houses were eligible for the Data Journalism Awards. Works produced by individuals or teams of journalists from media companies and non-profit organizations, as well as freelancers or individuals were all eligible for entry.
  • Works produced by staffers or freelancers collaborating with government agencies, business or trade organizations with a stake (financial or of other nature) in the issue at hand were not eligible. In other words, these awards are not given to business data visualizations or projects produced for branding purposes.
  • The RDJA administrators had the final authority to determine whether an entry was eligible or not.\


  1. A maximum of4 entries per category
  2. During the pre-selection, the jury had to choose which category is most adequate for the submission, although the preferred category in a story description statement could have been mentioned in the application form.
  3. All entries were accompanied by submission form that include:
  • Description of the entry, less than 100 words
  •  Biography of the writer(s), less than 100 words
  •  Confirmation of the date published.

   4. Entry Formats:

  •   link to the online article or newspaper  or copies of the article or newspapers
  •   Radio or podcast:  link to mp3 file either through an active URL or an archived link,    or copies on DVD
  •   Television/youtube/other video:  link to an active URL   or copies of DVD  

   5. All submission forms were filled in English. Entries in languages other than English were accepted provided that they were accompanied by thorough explanations of the work in English in submission form. If a work originally published in a language other than English passed the pre-jury selection stage, applicants might be asked to provide additional information and translations if possible.

   6. There was no submission fee.


Judges evaluated 40 stories from 18 journalists based on the following two points that describe a set of criteria for all categories:

  1. Ease of understanding what the data is saying by enabling greater public understanding of a particular topic through accurate data representation, visual elegance, creativity, originality, and uniqueness of informative infographic, or other visualizationtechniques used to present data in a journalistic story or program.
  2. The content should be people-centred by linking data to human lives and welfare, and have a good balance of subjectivity and objectivity.
  3. Impact of the entry on improving the understanding of the population of the data and on its general contribution to increase statistical literacy amongst Rwandans through accessible analysis, explanation, and statistical conceptualization used in a story or program.
  4. Quality of content, and variety of subjects covered.
  5. Data quoted with the right time period and the right source of the data.