The African Open Science Platform initiative (AOSP), funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST) through the National Research Foundation (NRF), and implemented and managed by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), is a pan-African project for Africa by Africa. Direction is provided by CODATA (ISC).
The 3-year project was launched by the then Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor, in December 2016 during the Science Forum South Africa.
In the words of Ms Naledi Pandor, 8 Dec. 2016:
“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”.
The development of an open science and innovation platform depends not only on the physical infrastructure for acquiring, curating and disseminating data and information, but also on protocols, policies and procedures in the science system that provide the structure and support to ensure that science objectives are achieved.
Several open science activities are underway across Africa. Through the African Open Science Platform initiative, it is expected that a great deal will be gained if, in the context of developing inter-regional links, mechanisms for collaboration, exchange of good practice and coordination can be established.
The governance of the platform is through:
- A high level, representative Advisory Council to advise on the trajectory and priorities of the Platform and the development of common, platform-wide priorities from national objectives and needs.
- A Technical Advisory Group to advise on technical priorities and processes, comprising both regional and non-African experts.
- Management and implementation by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), with direction from CODATA.
The project is currently in its second year, and the deliverables in brief:
Year 1 (Dec 2016 – Nov 2017)
- Launch of the platform, with multiple high-level stakeholder workshops, meetings and presentations, towards creating awareness for the need to curate African scientific data in a trusted way.
- Development of an Advocacy Toolkit.
- Establishing governance bodies with terms of reference.
- Initiate a landscape study to better understand which data intensive research initiatives are conducted on the African continent.
- Creating awareness of the initiative on continental and international level.
- Exploratory work towards frameworks and roadmaps for open science policy, infrastructure, capacity building and incentives.
Year 2 (Dec 2017 – Nov 2018)
- Continue creating awareness.
- Development and testing of frameworks started in Year 1.
- Finalisation and visualisation of landscape study.
Year 3 (Dec 2018 – Nov 2019)
- Continue high-level stakeholder meetings on government level.
- Continue testing and alignment of frameworks to guide African countries and initiatives.
- Wrapping-up project.