Brief AOSP Feedback on IDW2018, 5-8 November 2018, Gaborone, Botswana

International Data Week 2018 brought together more than 800 participants from 64 countries and 6 continents, with top numbers from Botswana, South Africa and the United States.

The African Open Science Platform (AOSP) – managed by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) – was part of the organising committee, and also managed to fully/partially sponsor 30 delegates from Africa in some way. We were further very proud to sponsor the colourful African beaded lanyards the 600 paid-up registrants received when the conference started, and hope you will use it in innovative ways to always remember this conference! One of our delegates tweeted on Twitter: “I have been to many, many conferences, and this “lanyard” is the best! So pretty!” Thank you for your appreciation.

Thank you to our host – the University of Botswana – and main organisers (CODATA, RDA, WDS, and University of Botswana), and all delegates, for an excellent event. From the outset IDW2018 was aligned with the mandate of AOSP – which is to create awareness and advocate for high quality research data to be curated in a FAIR way. At the same time AOSP managed to establish many new networks globally, and became aware of even more Open Data initiatives on the continent. IDW2018 truly fulfilled our expectations in terms of the purpose of what an international conference should be about, among many others:

  • Sharing and testing innovative ideas;
  • Exchanging existing and new information among experts and upcoming researchers, passing on expertise;
  • Extending “international” to also include Africa, connecting North and South;
  • Making governments part of the conversation;
  • Having keynotes sharing the new frontiers of science with all;
  • Engaging in dialogue and challenging ideas/thinking;
  • Connecting scientists from Africa with one another, but also with people from outside Africa, to collaborate in taking the curation of research data forward, and
  • Giving many excellent researchers the opportunity to express and share great experiences and initiatives – giving all a much needed voice through this very important platform.

The proposed draft International Data Week Gaborone Statement – one of the many outcomes of the conference – is in the process of being finalised. Major outcomes for AOSP included – among many others – the opportunity to further add to the landscape study and the database of networks, and to create awareness on AOSP – also among delegates from outside Africa. The AOSP frameworks on policy, infrastructure, capacity building and incentives were further presented and tested for the first time during the AOSP Technical Advisory Board Meeting, and valuable feedback was received. A video will be compiled following interviews conducted with participants, responding to the question “What are the socio-economic benefits of Open Data and Open Science for Africa and the world?” The video will form part of the AOSP Advocacy Toolkit, used to create further awareness for the need for policy and more by African governments. Presentations, recordings and photos as well as keynotes are expected to be made available at soon.

Dr Serageldin (keynote speaker and also a member of the AOSP Advisory Council)  – during his announcement of the conference theme – said: “Our societies need more than knowledge, they need wisdom. The knowledge produced by the Natural Sciences, requires the insights of the Social Sciences, and the wisdom of the Humanities.” We therefore need each other, Open Science and Open Data not only connecting African scientists, but also connecting disciplines and scientists from all over the world with one another, towards collaboration to accelerate science.

Both the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and AOSP are looking forward working with all in taking Open Data and Open Science forward along with key stakeholders globally. In the words of Pasteur, also quoted by Dr Serageldin: “Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and it is the torch which illuminates the world.” We cannot illuminate the world if data, information, and knowledge are not open and transparent, cannot be tested/verified, and are unavailable for others to build on existing data, information and knowledge. Finally, all to lead to wisdom, so that we have a better understanding of how we can make our world more sustainable for future generations, addressing priority disciplines on the African continent and elsewhere, such as food security, infectious diseases, clean water and climate change.

On behalf of ASSAf and AOSP, thank you for the opportunity we had to be part of this very important event, and to engage and meet with so many of you! We are looking forward staying in touch and towards future collaboration!


Other ASSAf/AOSP presentations/activities/involvement during IDW2018:

  • 2 Nov Workshop: The Role of Librarians in transforming the world through Open Data and Open Science
  • 3 & 4 Nov: Meeting of the AOSP Technical Advisory Board
  • 5 Nov: Open Science in Africa – Opening Session
  • 6 Nov Panel Discussion: The international dimension of a sustainable and FAIR-enabled European Open Science Cloud
  • 6 Nov Panel Discussion: WDS Capacity Building CODATA RDA
  • 6 Nov AOSP Session & Presentation: Skills-development in an increasingly data-driven science environment: an African perspective
  • 7 Nov Gala Dinner Funder Message on behalf of AOSP
  • 8 Nov 2018: Chairing session on: Data Revolution for Local Impact – Data Policy and Innovation Use Cases from Tanzania
  • 8 Nov 2018: Receiving message of appreciation on behalf of AOSP
  • 9 Nov 2018 WDS Data Repository Workshop: African Open Science Platform

Presentations for the above are available at  

Presenters during the AOSP Session Skills-development in an increasingly data-driven science environment: an African perspective

IDW2018 in the media: