Madagascar generates a wealth of research data towards finding and informing sustainable solutions to environmental challenges faced nationally, but also globally. Valuable data intensive research is conducted in the areas of greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, meteorology, disaster management, food security, agriculture, oceanography, and more. The Nairobi Principles for Data Sharing agreed upon in 2014 encouraged African countries to manage and preserve their data in a trusted and digital format. It was only now (in 2017) that Madagascar – through work done by CODATA PASTD and sharing the strategic vision of the African Open Science Platform (AOSP) project – was able to take the dialogue on making national research data openly available for all to benefit, to national level.
Eleven Madagascar ministers attended the High-level Meeting on Environmental and Scientific Open Data for Sustainable Development Goals in Developing Countries on 4 September 2017, which was organized by the Madagascar Program Committee. The meeting was financially supported through the African Open Science Platform (AOSP) project, and attended by the ASSAf project managers (Ina Smith & Susan Veldsman), and included a presentation by Dr Simon Hodson, Executive Director of CODATA. Following the welcome and presentation by Dr Hodson on setting the scene in terms of the sharing and alignment of data internationally, all participated in valuable dialogue on the advantages as well as concerns regarding opening up Madagascar research data funded with tax payers money. The Madagascar ministerial representatives indicated that an open data policy was indeed on the table, and that the workshop and training expected to follow, were to inform the direction forward.
During the Workshop on Environmental and Scientific Open Data for Sustainable Development Goals in Developing Countries (5 & 6 September 2017) the Accord on Open Data in a Big Data World was represented to the participants. An overview of open data initiatives in Africa was shared, and a presentation on the African Open Science Platform was made. During the afternoon of 5 September various initiatives were shared from the Madagascar perspective. A workshop on 6 September informed next steps to take towards a Madagascar open data policy.
Although Madagascar faces many challenges, such as low Internet connectivity and limited access to electricity, researchers are optimistic. It is expected that Madagascar – also being one of the SKA partner countries – will benefit in terms of the ICT infrastructure which will follow from the SKA initiative.
Below: Government Officials who attended the High-Level Meeting on Environmental and Scientific Open Data for Sustainable Development Goals in Developing Countries, Convened by the Madagascar Ministry of Environment, Ecology and Forests, Ministry of Post, Telecommunication and Digital Development, Ministry of Higher Education and Research, Ministry of Economy and Planification, African Open Science Platform Project, CODATA and the CODATA PASTD Task Group, Prime Minister Palace Mahazoarivo, Madagascar
Below: Participants in the International Workshop on Environmental and Scientific Open Data for Sustainable Development Goals in Developing Countries Convened by the Madagascar Ministry of Environment, Ecology and Forests, the African Open Science Platform Project, CODATA and the CODATA PASTD Task Group, Hotel Carlton, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Below: Frederic Joel Ramarolahivonjitiana, Alisoa Razafitsara, Paul Uhlir, Simon Hodson, Liping Di, Xiang Zhou, Susan Veldsman, Ina Smith, Daniel Nyanganyura Not on photo: Ambinintsoa Lucie Noasilalaonomenjahary.