Category Archives: Africa

A Call to Invest in Open Infrastructure – the Invest in Open Infrastructure initiative

The AOSP (African Open Science Platform) and ASSAf (Academy of Science of South Africa) are proud to support the following global initiative, with Africa also being represented on the Steering Committee. Throughout the work done by AOSP, it has become clear that Africa heavily relies on available open infrastructure services to align with science and scholarly publishing globally. From the ICT Infrastructure Framework and Roadmap currently being developed for the future AOSP, it is further clear that open source will play a major role in building the required ICT Infrastructure. Please demonstrate support for this initiative on behalf of yourself or your organisation, through signing the statement:

Also please share this invitation with all your networks. Thanking you in advance.


Invest in Open Infrastructure Launches


Tuesday 14 May 2018 saw the formation of Invest In Open Infrastructure (IOI) a global initiative to increase the availability and sustainability of open knowledge infrastructure.

The needs of today’s diverse scholarly communities are not being met by the existing largely uncoordinated scholarly infrastructure, which is dominated by vendor products that take ownership of the scholarly process and data without appropriate governance and oversight from the communities they serve. We imagine a world in which communities of researchers, scholars, and knowledge workers across the globe are fully enabled to share, discover, and collaborate using tools and platforms that are designed to interoperate and complement one another rather than compete and exclude.

IOI will consist of two functions, one is an assessment and recommendation framework that will regularly survey the landscape of open scholarly infrastructure with respect to its functionality, usage, health and financial needs and make funding recommendations for that infrastructure.

IOI’s second function will coordinate funds to follow the recommendations of the framework. Coordinating financial resources from institutions, agencies and foundations, we will work to increase the overall funding available to emerging and critical infrastructure.

IOI grew out of last year’s Joint Roadmap for Open Scholarly Tools (JROST) and within the context of Plan S, the European Open Science Cloud, the US NAS Open Science by Design effort, SCOSSAmeliCA, and the UC Declaration of Rights and Principles to Transform Scholarly Communication. It’s clear that while the advances of digital scholarship have resulted in many benefits, that scientists and scholars who generally work in the public interest have a need for more open infrastructure which mirrors their social focus.

As Geoffrey Bilder, Jennifer Lin and Cameron Neylon put it in 2015: “Everything we have gained by opening content and data will be under threat if we allow the enclosure of scholarly infrastructures.”

IOI is a collaboration between many, including the Joint Roadmap for Open Scholarly Tools (JROST)SPARC EuropeSPARCMapping the Scholarly Communication InfrastructureOpen Research Funders Group (ORFG)OPERAS, and the Open Platforms Group.

Our steering committee includes Ginny Barbour (Australasian Open Access Strategy Group), Arianna Becerril (Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México), Leslie Chan (University of Toronto Scarborough), Raym Crow (SPARC), Peg Fowler (Hypothesis), Heather Joseph (SPARC), Pierre Mounier (OPERAS), Cameron Neylon (Curtin Univ), David Lewis (Mapping the Scholarly Communications Infrastructure), Lucy Ofiesh (Center for Open Science), Vanessa Proudman (SPARC Europe), Kristen Ratan (Coko Foundation), Danielle Robinson (Code for Science and Society), Mike Roy (Middlebury College), Katherine Skinner (Educopia), Ina Smith (Academy of Science of South Africa), Greg Tananbaum (Open Research Funders Group), Evviva Weinraub (Northwestern), Dan Whaley (Hypothesis), and Maurice York (University of Michigan).

This is the beginning of a process for which community feedback, a truly global perspective, and participation by all stakeholders will be critical to its success.

Prof Himla Soodyall, Executive Officer, Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)

“ASSAf is committed to working with other African Academies within the NASAC network to ensure that evidence-based science is used to advance societal issues. There are many initiatives within ASSAf that uses open infrastructure services to facilitate scholarly activities. We are happy to endorse and support this initiative.”

Dr. Heide Hackmann, Chief Executive Officer, International Science Council

“The open science imperative is about advancing the rigour, reliability and relevance of science in addressing the complexities of today’s global challenges. The African Open Science Platform (AOSP) is an example of the action now critically needed to ensure that science systems — particularly those that remain under-resourced — are able to adapt to the open science paradigm through proactive coordination and collaboration at a regional scale.”

Ina Smith, Project Manager, Academy of Science of South Africa

“The world is catapulting towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR, the ‘data revolution’) whilst in the midst of the Third Industrial Revolution (the ‘digital revolution’). As with the digital revolution, the data revolution is expected to have profound implications for scholarly publishing, utilising — among others — Artificial Intelligence to develop services that can offer even more benefits to the global scholarly community. Africa relies heavily on the current open infrastructure scholarly publishing services available, and will also rely on possible future services brought along by the 4IR, to align with best practises and standards applied globally. The IOI initiative towards finding solutions and support for sustainable scholarly publishing services is much needed, since the majority of African countries cannot afford the services offered by profit-driven businesses. Open infrastructure services benefit Africa in many ways — to catch-up with what is happening in scholarly publishing, but also to become and remain an equal player towards addressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We cannot afford a further digital divide, and with the world being more connected than ever before, all are to equally benefit from good-quality research supported by existing and future open infrastructure services.”

Winner of the Africa Tech CIO Award – Congratulations to Boniface O. Akuku, KALRO

We want to make use of this opportunity to congratulate Boniface O. Akuku, Director ICT, Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), for being awarded the Africa Tech CIO of the Year, during the recent  Africa Tech Week event in Cape Town, SA (on 5 March 2019). Awards do not only acknowledge success; they also recognize many other qualities, such as ability, struggle, effort, internal motivation, but above all – excellence. This is a great acknowledgment for the hard work and tireless efforts Boniface, in promoting open access to quality data and research related to agriculture, the development of applications to assist farmers, and many more! Boniface’s future plans include making use of disruptive technology & automation to make open data more applicable in Agriculture. AOSP and the Africa community are incredibly proud of you! Congratulations, and well deserved! Visit the following: KALRO e-Repository and the KAINet e-Repository.

Africa Tech Week is a conference, exhibition and awards for African tech professionals. Digital transformation requires cooperation between companies, government and civil society and Africa Tech Week creates a unique platform for exactly this. Africa Tech Week further promotes digital transformation by connecting government, corporates and fresh talent in the tech industry. Interact with the business leaders, shaping the way to the future.


Open source data repository technologies

From the AOSP landscape study, it was clear that open access institutional repositories are well established (179 African repositories registered on OpenDOAR) on the African continent. The majority of the repositories use DSpace open source software, and great capacity exists among African system administrators and librarians. Alternative options to data repository software include: Invenio 3 (open source for large scale repositories, highly scalable up to 100+ million records and petabytes of file) and Dataverse (open source research data repository with many features – see ), as well as the technology options mentioned by the World Bank Toolkit (a great resource to guide you in terms of setting up your data repository service). Ideally a data repository should form part of a science gateway, including shared equipment and instruments, computational services, advanced software applications, collaboration capabilities, data repositories, and networks.

For those interested in looking at DSpace as an option: the following information on how DSpace can serve as a data repository was recently shared via the DSpace mailing list (Bram Luyten):

Examples of DSpace used as data repositories

University of Exeter (single item, multiple TBs of data)

University of Nottingham Research Data Management Repository

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich)

University of Cambridge

Indiana University

Smithsonian Libraries

Strengths of DSpace as a data repository

– File type agnostic. You’re not limited any specific file type or particular size.

– No theoretical file size limit. Even though there might be limits in other places (OS, underlying software), DSpace itself has no known limit of data size.

– Flexible metadata schemas, allowing you to align with DataCite and other metadata schema’s.

– DOI integration with DataCite (connected with DataCite for automatic DOI minting).

– Different workflows and rules are possible on a per collection basis, giving an excellent starting point for a mixed Publication/Data set repository.

– Advancing URLs, e.g. where a researcher wants a permanent URL for their data set, so they can send it to publishers, but they would also like to refer to the permanent URL of the published paper in the dataset submission. DSpace-CRIS can generate the links to the datasets while submitting the publication, and DSpace-CRIS generates the reciprocal link (from the dataset to the publication) automatically, without the need for repository administrator to reopen the dataset items and manually add the link to the publication.

DSpace-CRIS consists of a data model describing objects of interest to Research and Development and a set of tools to manage the data. Standard DSpace is used to deal with publications and data sets, whereas DSpace-CRIS involves other CRIS entities: Researcher Pages, Projects, Organization Units and Second Level Dynamic Objects (single entities specialized by a profile, such as Journal, Prize, Event etc; because any profile can define its own set of properties and nested objects). For more info, see:

Accessing Open Access Research Content


Institutional Repositories

Researchers are encouraged to publish research articles as always, with preferred publishers. In addition to publishing their research articles, they are encouraged to also upload a second copy of the published article into the institutions’ institutional repository. The purpose of an IR is to centrally archive all research output by an institution, at the same time increasing the visibility of the institution and the impact it has in addressing research challenges. The following directories provide info on known repositories from all over the world:


  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists 12,740 Open Access journals from all over the world. High quality African open access journals are also encouraged to adhere to the requirements, and to apply for inclusion. See


Data Repositories

  • We have identified quite a number of data repositories on the African continent as part of the African Open Science Platform (AOSP). To be published as part of the AOSP landscape study.
  • Data repositories are encouraged to register with

Call for Participation in Big Data Transfer to be used for Proof of Concepts

The South African National Research Network (SANReN, NICIS) are working on a service for the South African Research and Education community – big data transfer service. This will be based on Science DMZs and data transfer nodes (DTNs). Currently, we have nodes at CSIR (Pretoria), WITS (Johannesburg) and Cape Town.

We are looking for users with large data sets to be used for proof of concepts for the service. Anyone with > 10 GB of research/science data, particularly those with current issues in moving it around (e.g. considers shipping hard-drives of data instead of using the SA NREN), are good potentials.

Please contact Renier van Heerden ( ) or Kasandra Pillay or the PERT team if we can assist with your large data transfers.


Relevance of Open Data Towards a Sustainable Environment – SFSA 2018

Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) has become a highlight on the calendar of many South Africans and those from abroad. Attracting individuals from all fields of science, researchers, policy makers and students, the forum saw over 3 000 registrations. Science Forum South Africa aligns with the global World Science Forum, annually hosted by countries from all over the world. World Science Forum 2019 will take place from 20 to 23 November 2019, Budapest, Hungary.

It was during SFSA 2016 that the African Open Science Platform (AOSP) was first announced. During SFSA 2018, AOSP hosted a session titled “Relevance of open data towards a sustainable environment”, focussing on data in priority disciplines. The session was well attended, and the panel comprised of three speaker’s all from different African countries and fields. The first to present was Ms Eiman Karar, Senior Advisor at the United Nations Environmental Programme in Sudan. Ms Karar’s focus was on water data, highlighting the inequality to accessing water on the continent. Dr Mohamed El-Hadidi, Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics at the Nile University in Egypt focussed on genomic data. He illustrated how data from genomics could be used to address the sustainable development goals i.e. allowing plant breeders to access and identify variation in genomes that are useful for crop improvement, addressing sustainable development goal 2, namely “zero hunger”. The last speaker was Dr Suzanne Smit, an executive board member of the Urban Modelling and Metabolism Assessment (uMAMA) research group based at Stellenbosch University. Her presentation was on planning, measuring and monitoring in building sustainable cities in urban Africa, which speaks to sustainable development goal 11. According to Dr Smit, data from the informal settlements are required to inform housing policies. Slums are dynamic, and more frequent and current data are needed from these areas to plan ahead.

The above presentations opened the way for a more focussed approach to be followed by AOSP during 2019. It is clear that lots of data intensive research are conducted on the continent, and that if high priority discipline specific areas can align and share data, science can be accelerated, finding solutions faster, pooling efforts together through possible collaboration in terms of infrastructure, data repositories, and more.

The audience was captivated and learnt more on the importance of data including opening it up. Presentations were followed by a brief question and answer session. During the closing session, it was indicated that AOSP’s pilot phase (2016-2019) would not end here, and will be followed by a phase two of the project. The announcement received huge applause and excitement from the room. The AOSP launch document was shared with the audience at the forum and made available online. Access the recorded live stream of the AOSP Phase 2 announcement here.

View the report from the AOSP Session during SFSA 2018.

Listen to the recording from the SFSA Closing Session, mentioning AOSP Phase 2.

Budgeting for Open Access

For Open Access to quality research to remain sustainable, institutions and libraries across Africa and the world are encouraged to budget in order to support Open Access, Open Science and Open Data. Open Access can only be sustainable if the library and research communities contribute back.

Ways in which institutions/libraries can support Open Access, Open Science and Open Data:

– Developers can report bugs in Open Source software, or contribute code to the developers of a specific software product, such as DSpace or OJS.

– Libraries can financially support initiatives such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (become a member). Unfortunately there are very few members from Africa this far. Membership fees are available at Interested parties are requested to contact Lars Bjornshauge at

– Libraries can support higher level initiatives for up to 3 years, such as the SCOSS initiative (SCOSS: A global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services). SCOSS advocates for helping Open Access initiatives such as DOAJ to become more sustainable.

On this page you can see which institutions are ordinary members and you can see which institutions are supporting DOAJ at a higher (SCOSS) rate:

A special list of institutions who have signed up for supporting DOAJ based on the SCOSS fees and other special commitments:

In the case of DOAJ or SCOSS, potential new members can contact Lars Bjornshauge at

Please consider adding Open Access as a budget line item, so that we can continue to benefit from science as well as the software we use – freely available to all.

Webinar (free): Readying Your University to Open Data Compliance

Webinar hosted by PUSH – Presidents United to Solve Hunger. See African University Presidents who signed PUSH: Adekunle Ajasin University (Nigeria), International University of Rabat (Morocco), Stenden University (South Africa), Université Internationale de Rabat (Morocco), William V.S. Tubman University (Liberia).

In this webinar we will describe definitions of open access and open data, benefits that open data can bring, and why funders are requiring data sharing and data management plans. Also Utah State representatives will describe their policy and guidance to help faculty comply with funders’ data management and open data requirements.

Date & Time: Jan 16, 2019 10:00 AM in Central Time (US and Canada)

Register at

Webinar objectives are to:
Bring greater awareness of open data and data management requirements, as well as explain why data sharing is important to funders
Share funders’ and other organizations’ open data policies
Generate discussions that address the challenges of meeting open data requirements
Set the stage for cooperation among researchers, universities, funders, journals, and research associations which later will eventually develop policy alignment

Anne Mims Adrian, PUSH Open Data Project Manager, Auburn University, Host
Jaime Adams, Senior Advisor for International Affairs, USDA
Kevin Peterson, Executive Director, Sponsored Programs, Utah State University
Betty Rozum, Data Librarian, Utah State University

Launch of the future African Open Science Platform during SFSA2018, 12-14 Dec. 2018

We are incredibly proud to announce that the future African Open Science Platform will be launched during the upcoming SFSA2018 (12-14 Dec. 2018, CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, SA) meeting. Please read more about the preparatory work done as part of AOSP at We also want to thank you for your contribution in taking this project forward, and for incredible support all over the continent!

It was at the SFSA2016 that AOSP was announced for the first time, by the then Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, which at the time said: “The creation of the African Open Science Platform is an excellent example of the tangible impact our Science Forum has already achieved in harnessing international partnerships to advance African science.  The Platform will play a critical role to assist African countries in developing the necessary capacities to manage and exploit scientific data for the benefit of society.  I am proud that our Department, and its entities the NRF and ASSAf, are contributing to this crucial mission.”

The role of AOSP is further acknowledged as part of the recently launched (Draft) SA White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (2018), when it says: “As part of its commitment to African STI cooperation, South Africa will also work to advance the open science agenda elsewhere on the continent and within regional frameworks. The strategic role of the African Open Science Platform, hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa, which promotes African-wide development and coordination of data policies, data training and data infrastructure, will be leveraged with the support of the DST and the National Research Foundation (NRF). In addition, South Africa is one of the founding members of the global Open Government Partnership (OECD) ….”

Read more about the future AOSP at the following:

AOSP during the upcoming SFSA2018 (12-14 Dec. 2018, CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, SA)

We are looking very much forward welcoming all to the upcoming Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) 2018. Please encourage academics, researchers, citizen scientists and more to join.

View the programme by clicking here. Click here to register (registration is free).

The draft programme for the AOSP Session on 13 Dec. 2018, 11:00-12:30, Diamond Room, CSIR International Convention Centre:

Relevance of open data towards a sustainable environment


Susan Veldsman, Director Scholarly Publishing, ASSAf, SA


The Open Africa Data Platform for Sustainable Water Management
Ms Eiman Karar, United Nations Environmental Programme, Sudan

Applications of Big Data Analytics in Bioinformatics and Biomedical Sciences
Prof Mohamed El-Hadidi, Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics, Nile University, Egypt

Planning, measuring and monitoring in building sustainable cities in an urban Africa
Ms Suzaan Smit, Researcher, Stellenbosch University, SA

Looking forward welcoming all soon!