Category Archives: Governance

Infrastructure and governance are key to collaboration: perspectives from the GBIC2 (biodiversity) meeting

More and more disciplines across boundaries are grouping themselves together to benefit from the research conducted by others, and to collaborate, strengthening each other, and addressing global challenges. Collaboration is key, and unless researchers and research institutions are going to collaborate more, all will remain to be in competition, and consequently compete for funding. Through diversity and pooling knowledge together, researchers can accelerate discoveries. Through having a global view and addressing challenges in tandem, a careful balance can be maintained.

To collaborate effectively, infrastructure and governance need to be in place. The GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) – along with the SKA (Square Kilometre Array) and H3ABioNet (Pan African Bioinformatics network) communities – are examples of data intensive projects/initiatives where collaboration already takes place on especially a regional level, but also on a global scale. As far as biodiversity concerns, Africa has many biodiversity rich areas, but unfortunately – because of countries with limited access and capacities/resources – data are often unavailable.

The main objective of the past GBIF meeting (GBIC2: the 2nd Global Biodiversity Information Conference, 24-27 July 2018, Kopenhagen, Denmark) was to discuss future governance of the international biodiversity key stakeholders towards developing a network for all biodiversity information and data: what data does the GBIF community have/should GBIF get, how could data be combined, standards to apply, repositories, taxonomies, intellectual property, etc. The meeting was in agreement that – in order to advance biodiversity science – occurrences observed should be made immediately accessible in an interconnected way, working towards a vast resource base of digitally accessible data that can be searched and harvested. Organized views should be produced so that open data can be used meaningfully and immediately, without any delay.

Maria Uhle from the Belmont Forum provided a funders’ perspective. She provided some guidelines with the biodiversity community towards applying for funding:

  • Be realistic when applying for funding, and don’t promise the moon. Convince the funder that what you will do is critical.
  • Leverage and do not duplicate research. Establish innovative partnerships. Biodiversity for example connects with climate change.
  • Get the right people together to solve a problem, from all over the ecosystem. Scale & innovate to solve problems.
  • Identify gaps and opportunities.
  • Be aware that there are different cultural approaches towards solving research problems.
  • Lean into each other’s’ strengths – don’t duplicate for example what the RDA is doing.
  • Communication is key, and coordination is paramount.
  • If funders can agree on a basic Research Data Management plan, it will become less of an obstacle.

The meeting also brought other funders to the table, among others Dr Don Doering (JRS Biodiversity Foundation) and Dr Roalnd Roberts (Division of Biological Infrastructure, National Science Foundation, US).

According to Donald Hobern (GBIF Executive Secretary), up to now, the GBIF network made use of relatively cheap infrastructures built on a small scale. The purpose of this meeting was to get all stakeholders together, to find ways the community can work together better and more. The ideal would be to make biodiversity occurrences observed and found immediately accessible in an interconnected way, and have a vast resource base of digitally accessible data that can be searched and harvested. Organized views of observations should be produced so that data can be used meaningfully and immediately. Tools that allow people to get meaningful views are required to answer critical questions. Biodiversity data from all parts of the world are important, and also from African countries, which have many biodiversity rich areas. Currently there are 2 GBIF nodes based in Africa, with 22 African participants part of the network. Read more at

Towards an AOSP (African Open Science Platform) ICT Infrastructure Framework

The work done by the GBIF network and others will help to inform the generic AOSP ICT Infrastructure Framework, in terms of ICT and data sharing needs experienced by researchers on a discipline specific level. The AOSP approach is however more generic, providing guidance to governments on what is required when preparing for effective data sharing.

A working group under Prof Benjamin Aribisala, assisted by Dr Ousmane Moussa Tessa who also attended the AOSP ICT Infrastructure meeting on 14 May 2018, has been established to explore existing work done this far, and to propose a roadmap towards implementation by governments. Prof Aribisala is also a member of the AOSP Technical Advisory Board.

This group comprises of the following, bringing the perspective from the NREN/ICT Infrastructure side, as well as the researcher side (incl. biodiversity):

Prof Benjamin Aribisala (Lagos State University & participant in Sci-GaIA project)
Dr Ousmane Moussa Tessa (NigeREN)
Dr Anwar Vahed (DIRISA)
Dr Sumir Panji (H3ABioNet)
Dr Bruce Becker (EGI Foundation & previously Sci-GaIA project)
Dr Renier van Heerden (SANREN)
Prof Jean Ganglo Cossi (GBIF)

Various opportunities have been identified for the proposed framework to be reviewed and to be tested during Year 3 (November 2018 – October 2019) of the AOSP project. The first opportunity will be during the upcoming Technical Advisory Board meeting on 3-4 November 2018, prior to the International Data Week 2018 conference – both to take place in Gaborone, Botswana. We want to thank all involved in taking this very important project forward.

SA Science Forum: Invitation to attend the African Open Science Platform Session on 7 Dec. 2017

Please join us for the session on the African Open Science Platform (AOSP) and progress made on strategic and decision-making level, as experienced by country representatives. Registration is free, but attendees will be responsible for covering own expenses (no scholarships available unfortunately).


Date: 7 December 2017

Time: 09:00 – 09:30

Venue: Garnet Room, CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa. Maps at


The African Open Science Platform: Towards an Open Science Framework for African countries

The purpose of the African Open Science Platform is to explore progress made in terms of sharing scientific/research data by African researchers, especially where the research has  been funded with public money. At the same time, the project wishes to establish what is needed to make the sharing of scientific/research data possible, and provide information on interventions required to get on par with the international scientific community where open science and open data are concerned.

This Science Talk hopes to identify challenges and receive input from researchers/scientists in the audience on how to promote the sharing of research data. The responses received from the audience will feed into/inform the African Open Science Platform framework. Challenges will be aligned with the 4 pillars of the African Open Science Platform project:

  • Which approach(es)  should be followed to create awareness and encourage national government and policy decision makers towards data management (open science) policies, and the importance thereof?
  • Which incentives would encourage researchers to share their data in an open science environment?
  • What skills and software expertise are required for an entry-level data scientist, who wants to make the transition to working with data in an online environment?
  • What are the ICT infrastructure needs researchers experience in order to openly share research data/ what do researchers need to easily curate and share their data?

We are looking very much forward seeing you there!

Presentations on the African Open Science Platform, infrastructure, and incentives for sharing open data

October has been quite a busy month for the African Open Science Platform project. Herewith additional presentations shared by different people during different opportunities, not shared before. The project belongs to all in Africa, and we highly value contributions from experts willing to share their expertise, and also taking initiative in liaising with us on events, meetings and more. Thank you so much for your contributions in taking open data/open science forward in your individual countries! 

High-level EU-Africa Meeting presentation by Prof Geoffrey Boulton, member of the Advisory Council, AOSP
The African Open Science Platform/Prof Geoffrey Boulton 

Presentation during the UbuntuNetConnect 2017 Conference, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
“Without data, science is merely an opinion”/Ina Smith 

Series of webinars on incentives for sharing data, presented during Open Access Week 2017
Incentivizing data sharing: a “bottom up” perspective/Dr Louise Bezuidenhout
Open science and data sharing/Prof Martinn Wittenberg
Open Science Incentives/Veerle van den Eynden

AOSP Phase 1 coming to an end; Coming up Phase 2!

AOSP Phase 1 Year 1 Completed

Year 1 Phase 1 of the African Open Science Platform will be coming to an end on 31 October 2017. Many thanks to so many people who played a role in the success of this project this far, for helping to create even more awareness on the importance of open research data, and for continuing/taking the conversation to government and policy level. First of all, thank you to the SA Dept. of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation for funding the project. Thank you to the AOSP Technical Advisory Board members for all their support and active involvement, incl. Dr Simon Hodson for his input/direction on behalf of CODATA-ICSU, and to Advisory Council members.

This project is for Africans, by Africans, and we have so much to benefit if working together and partnering in making our research and accompanying data sets available, managing all in a trusted and responsible way, thereby advancing science globally. The outcomes so far have demonstrated great work being done on the continent (also through other initiatives/projects), and we can learn so much from one another! Very proud of all of Africa! A database on what’s happening on the continent is at the same time being developed.

Many thanks to individuals for representing AOSP, spreading the word even further. To mention a few (apologies if I have left someone out, but please get in touch if I skipped your name):

The AOSP Project Team also represented AOSP during many events & opportunities. A huge thank you to all our workshop presenters for participating in the workshops presented by AOSP during the past year!  Please visit the AOSP website for more information on all events. Also view the draft report from the 14th AAU General Conference & Golden Jubilee Celebrations, and the Madagascar report, shared previously.

We are looking forward presenting a workshop as part of the UbuntunetConnect 2017 conference, and hope to see some of you there! The Botswana Open Data Open Science National Workshop will take place on 30-31 October 2017.

About Phase 2

The second phase will be focusing on capacity building/skills development, based on what we have learned during Phase 1, as well as a needs analysis (survey) conducted, and desktop research. The Technical Advisory Board will be discussing the project plan for Phase 2 during the upcoming meeting on 6 December 2017, in Pretoria, prior to the SFSA 2017, and we are looking forward to input also from the Advisory Council.

Upcoming webinars: Please also register to join our upcoming webinars on incentives for data sharing!

If you find yourself to be in Pretoria on 7 and/or 8 December, please make time to attend the SFSA event, now in its third year. Please register (free of charge) if you plan to attend. Unfortunately no funding is available for travel/other, but please do consider attending and be part of this highlight on the calendar of the SA Dept. of Science and Technology. The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf, and also AOSP Office) is also co-host of this event, together with the NRF.

AOSP Report & Timeline to Date

During the week of 17 – 24 August 2017 the AOSP project was audited by KPMG, and we are looking forward towards the recommendations and outcome of the audit. To keep you posted, we would like to share a preliminary report on the project, as well as a list of activities during the past 10 months. All these valuable & rich activities have assisted in informing the project, and the direction to take. We could not have been able to do any of it without you, and thank you once again for valuable input, participation, commitment to the success of the project, and your enthusiasm.

Please also visit the web site to meet the members of the AOSP Advisory Council and the AOSP Technical Advisory Board.


Members of the AOSP Technical Advisory Board Announced

We would like to congratulate and acknowledge the following members of the African Open Science Platform Technical Advisory Board, which might evolve as the project progresses. The current members are:

Prof Joseph Muliaro Wafula (Chairperson)
Director: ICT Centre of Excellence & Open Data – iCEOD, JKUAT (Kenya)

Mrs Susan Veldsman (Co-Chair)
Director: Scholarly Publishing Program, Academy of Science of South Africa (SA)

Dr Anwar Vahed
Director: DIRISA (SA)

Dr Audrey Masizana
Head of Department Computer Science/ Senior Lecturer/Researcher, University of Botswana (Botswana)

Mrs Nodumo Dhlamini
Director: ICT Services & Knowledge Management, Association of African Universities (AAU) (Ghana)

Ms Andiswa Mlisa
AfriGEOSS, Capacity Building and User Engagement, Group on Earth Observations (Switzerland/SA)

Prof Benjamin Aribisala
Chairman: ICT Advisory Committee, Head of Department: Computer Science, Lagos State University (Nigeria)

Mr Lazarus Matizirofa
Acting Executive Director, Knowledge Management Corporate (KMC), National Research Foundation (NRF)(SA/Zimbabwe)

Dr Daniel Nyanganyura
Director: ICSU Regional Office Africa (SA/Zimbabwe)

Dr Joseph Mwelwa
Founder & Director, Joint Minds Consult (Botswana/Zambia)

Dr Arona Diedhiou 
Research Director, Institute of Research for Development at Joseph Fourier University of Grenoble (Côte d’Ivoire/France)

Ms Noasilalaonomenjanahary Ambinintsoa Lucie
Ministry of Environment, Ecology and Forest (Madagascar)

Ex Officio:
Ina Smith (ASSAf), Simon Hodson (CODATA), Nozuko Hlwatika (ASSAf)