Category Archives: Africa

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 https://github.com/IQSS/dataverse/releases/tag/v4.10 ), 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 https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/14881 (single item, multiple TBs of data)

University of Nottingham Research Data Management Repository https://rdmc.nottingham.ac.uk/

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) https://www.research-collection.ethz.ch/

University of Cambridge https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/browse?type=type&value=Dataset
DRYAD https://datadryad.org/

Indiana University https://dataworks.iupui.edu/

Smithsonian Libraries https://repository.si.edu/handle/10088/27850

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: https://dspace-cris.4science.it/handle/123456789/15

Accessing Open Access Research Content

General

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:

Journals

  • 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 https://doaj.org/

Books/Monographs

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 re3data.org: https://www.re3data.org/

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 (renier@sanren.ac.za ) or Kasandra Pillay or the PERT team pert@sanren.ac.za 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 https://doaj.org/membership. Interested parties are requested to contact Lars Bjornshauge at lars@doaj.org.

– 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: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1_R14hfKZBYJOlxByUy-Uq6-vJg7fQ3WC3h1OV7qmBmU/edit#gid=0

A special list of institutions who have signed up for supporting DOAJ based on the SCOSS fees and other special commitments: www.doaj.org/scoss

In the case of DOAJ or SCOSS, potential new members can contact Lars Bjornshauge at lars@doaj.org

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 https://auburn.zoom.us/meeting/register/1d65f2d9f925dc907c24e00bf0acd2b8

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

Presenters
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 http://africanopenscience.org.za/. 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: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2222418

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: https://www.sfsa.co.za/round-2/

Relevance of open data towards a sustainable environment

Moderator

Susan Veldsman, Director Scholarly Publishing, ASSAf, SA

Panellists

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!

 

Brief Feedback on Libsense Repository Workshop, 19-20 November 2018, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Role of NRENs in Support of Science

National Research Education Networks (NRENs – especially Level 6) in Africa, are more and more gearing themselves towards offering ICT related services to the research community – also as far as data-intensive research concerns. For data to be FAIR – findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable – it needs to be curated using trusted platforms. In addition to curation, access to High Performance Computing (HPC) clusters are required to benefit from services offered through the Cloud and recently, also on the Edge. A great deal can be achieved through coordination of resources and investment in shared infrastructure. In 2017 AOSP presented a paper and workshop during the UbuntuNet Connect Conference, inviting NRENs to also explore offering data related services. This was followed by an AOSP meeting between researchers and NRENs on 14 May 2018, Pretoria, South Africa. AOSP has identified stakeholders consisting of representatives from NRENs and researchers to propose a framework for an ICT Infrastructure, towards the sharing of research data, and towards implementing a tangible AOSP during the next phase. The group – under leadership of Prof Benjamin Aribisala – is working on guidelines, guiding both NRENs and governments, to be reviewed by experts during Year 3 (2019) of the AOSP project.

NRENs, Libraries and Institutional Literature Repositories

During the past Libsense Repository Workshop, the UbuntuNet Alliance managed to create a platform for librarians (specifically institutional literature repository managers) to engage with technical NREN staff, to see how they can support and collaborate with one another. It was a great event, and future collaboration looks promising, depending on commitment from both parties. This a first step towards librarians and NRENs collaborating towards extending and advancing institutional literature repositories, towards federation and integration, and towards becoming next generation institutional repositories (COAR). The focus was very much on institutional repositories, but the possibility exists that the repositories can be extended to also address the complexity involved regarding the curation of data sets. Different disciplines apply different metadata standards, and the metadata for data sets is far more complex (also captured as part of Research Data Management Plans, more and more required by funders globally). The curation of data sets also a challenge because of the Variety, Velocity, Volume and more.

NRENs indicated that the following services can potentially be offered to researchers and libraries: hosting of repositories, digital preservation implementing LOCKSS, federated identity management, and more.

From the AOSP landscape study, more than 55 data repositories were identified. Libraries, data scientists and data repository managers are encouraged to work together, and to also register data repositories with re3data.org, towards a comprehensive understanding of what is happening on the continent.

A parallel meeting with VCs from universities across Africa was hosted by UbuntuNet, discussing ways universities and NRENs can strengthen collaboration towards addressing the challenges brought forward by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The presentations from the Libsense workshop are available at https://events.ubuntunet.net/event/19/ Presentations were further guided by the outcomes of the survey at https://www.dropbox.com/s/155fokahpl0tleb/UA%20Interim%20Survey%20Report_Final-20181119.pdf?dl=0, and also the COAR proposal towards New Generation IRs. See https://www.coar-repositories.org/activities/advocacy-leadership/working-group-next-generation-repositories/

Please note:

DSpace 7 to be released early next year, including next generation tools. https://wiki.duraspace.org/display/DSPACE/DSpace+Release+7.0+Status

Invenio 3 already offers new generation IR tools.