Skip to content

openAFRICA aims to be largest independent repository of open data on the African continent. This repo contains the primary deployment scripts and files. Accessible at


Notifications You must be signed in to change notification settings


Repository files navigation


The continent's largest volunteer-driven open data portal.

CKAN version

This repo seeks to streamline deployment of the openAFRICA platform by pulling together the different components used for openAFRICA and deploy using dokku.


CKAN is an open-source DMS (data management system) for powering data hubs and data portals. CKAN makes it easy to publish, share and use data. It powers, and among many other sites.

We use CKAN's own vanilla releases but because they haven't properly adopted Docker and dockerhub (yet) for deployment, we're keeping a stable version (codeforafrica/ckan:latest) that we can be sure plays nice with our extenstions.

The ckan extensions we are using include:


To set up your development environment:

$ git clone

$ cd openAFRICA

Run this command (found on the docker-compose.yml):

docker-compose build && docker-compose up

Updating CKAN Docker Image

To update the openafrica/ckan:latest Docker image, edit Makefile and then run:

make ckan




We use dokku for deployment so you'd need to install and set it up first;

 # for debian systems, installs dokku via apt-get
 $ wget
 $ sudo DOKKU_TAG=v0.11.3 bash
 # go to your server's IP and follow the web installer

Install + Create Dependencies

Once installed, we can do the following:

  1. Create the Dokku app and add a domain to it
dokku apps:create ckan
dokku domains:add ckan
  1. Add letsencrypt for free https certificate

Install the dokku-letsencrypt plugin and set the config variables

sudo dokku plugin:install
dokku config:set --no-restart ckan
  1. Create CKAN Solr Instance

CKAN uses a special schema for Solr so you should deploy openafrica/solr

dokku apps:create ckan-solr

sudo docker volume create --name ckan-solr
dokku docker-options:add ckan-solr run,deploy --volume ckan-solr:/opt/solr/server/solr/ckan

sudo docker pull codeforafrica/ckan-solr:2.7.6
sudo docker tag codeforafrica/ckan-solr:2.7.6 dokku/ckan-solr:latest

dokku git:from-image ckan-solr dokku/ckan-solr:latest

  1. Create Redis Instance

Install the redis plugin.

sudo dokku plugin:install redis
dokku redis:create ckan-redis

  1. Create CKAN DataPusher Instance

DataPusher is a standalone web service that automatically downloads any CSV or XLS (Excel) data files from a CKAN site's resources when they are added to the CKAN site, parses them to pull out the actual data, then uses the DataStore API to push the data into the CKAN site's DataStore.

dokku apps:create ckan-datapusher

sudo docker pull openafrica/ckan-datapusher:latest
sudo docker tag openafrica/ckan-datapusher:latest dokku/ckan-datapusher:latest

dokku git:from-image ckan-datapusher dokku/ckan-datapusher:latest

  1. Install Postgres (Optional)

This is an optional step if you'd like to have Postgres installed locally;

sudo dokku plugin:install postgres
dokku postgres:create ckan-postgres

  1. Install RabbitMQ

Install the RabbitMQ plugin (The harvest extension uses this as its backend)

sudo dokku plugin:install rabbitmq
dokku rabbitmq:create ckan-rabbitmq
  1. Set up S3

Create a bucket and a programmatic access user, and grant the user full access to the bucket with the following policy

    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
            "Resource": [
  1. Create CKAN filestore volume

Create a named docker volume and configure ckan to use the volume just so we can configure an upload path. It should be kept clear by the s3 plugin.

sudo docker volume create --name ckan-filestore
dokku docker-options:add ckan run,deploy --volume ckan-filestore:/var/lib/ckan/default


Now we configure to pull the dependencies together:

Get the Redis Dsn (connection details) for setting in CKAN environment in the next step with /0 appended.

dokku redis:info ckan-redis

Get the RabbitMQ Dsn (connection details) and extract the username, password, hostname, virtualhost and port. You need these details because the harvester extension in its current form does not support configuration using RabbitMQ URI scheme. The URI is in the form


Set CKAN environment variables, replacing these examples with actual producation ones

  • REDIS_URL: use the Redis Dsn
  • SOLR_URL: use the alias given for the docker link below
  • BEAKER_SESSION_SECRET: this must be a secret long random string. Each time it changes it invalidates any active sessions.
  • S3FILESTORE__SIGNATURE_VERSION: use as-is - no idea why the plugin requires this.
dokku config:set ckan CKAN_SQLALCHEMY_URL=postgres://ckan_default:password@host/ckan_default \
                      CKAN_DATASTORE_READ_URL=postgresql://ckan_default:pass@localhost/datastore_default \
                      CKAN_DATASTORE_WRITE_URL=postgresql://datastore_default:pass@localhost/datastore_default \
                      CKAN_REDIS_URL=.../0 \
                      CKAN_INI=/ckan.ini \
                      CKAN_SOLR_URL=http://solr:8983/solr/ckan \
                      CKAN_SITE_URL= \
                      CKAN___BEAKER__SESSION__SECRET= \
                      CKAN_SMTP_SERVER= \
                      CKAN_SMTP_USER= \
                      CKAN_SMTP_PASSWORD= \
                      CKAN___CKANEXT__S3FILESTORE__AWS_BUCKET_NAME=openafrica \
                      CKAN___CKANEXT__S3FILESTORE__AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID= \
                      CKAN___CKANEXT__S3FILESTORE__HOST_NAME= \
                      CKAN___CKANEXT__S3FILESTORE__REGION_NAME=eu-west-1 \
                      CKAN___CKANEXT__S3FILESTORE__SIGNATURE_VERSION=s3v4 \
                      CKAN__HARVEST__MQ__VIRTUAL_HOST=ckan-rabbitmq \
                      CKAN__HARVEST__MQ__PORT=5672 \
                      CKAN__HARVEST__MQ__HOSTNAME=dokku-rabbitmq-ckan-rabbitmq \
                      CKAN__HARVEST__MQ__PASSWORD=912abee9882be7ca8718d3cab7263cfd \
                      CKAN__HARVEST__MQ__USER_ID=ckan-rabbitmq \

Link CKAN with Redis, Solr, and CKAN DataPusher;

dokku redis:link ckan-redis ckan  #noqa
dokku docker-options:add ckan run,deploy --link ckan-solr.web.1:solr
dokku docker-options:add ckan run,deploy --link ckan-datapusher.web.1:ckan-datapusher

Scheduled Jobs

For openAFRICA to work perfectly, some jobs have to run at certain times e.g. updating tracking statistics and rebuilding the search index for newly uploaded datasets. To create a scheduled job that is executed by a Dokku application, follow these steps:

sudo su dokku
crontab -e

Add the following entries

0 * * * * echo '{}' | dokku --rm run ckan paster --plugin=ckan post -c /ckan.ini /api/action/send_email_notifications > /dev/null

0 * * * * dokku --rm run ckan paster --plugin=ckan tracking update -c /ckan.ini

*/15 * * * * dokku --rm run ckan paster --plugin=ckanext-harvest harvester run --config=/ckan.ini

Deploy CKAN

Once done with installing and configuring, you can push this repository to dokku:

git remote add dokku
git push dokku

Initialize Database

Before you can run CKAN for the first time, you need to run db init to initialize your database

dokku enter ckan
cd src/ckan
paster db init -c /ckan.ini

Lastly, let's make sure we encrypt traffic:

dokku letsencrypt ckan

NOTE: Make sure to have the appropriate permissions to push to dokku.


Thank you for considering to contribute to this project. You are awesome. :)

To get you started, here are few pointers:

Check out the development docs to get started on this repo locally.

Security Vulnerabilities

Please report on security vulnerabilities to These will be promptly acted on.


GNU General Public License

openAFRICA aims to be the largest independent repository of open data on the African continent. Copyright (C) 2017 Code for Africa

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see