Category Archives: Africa

Uganda Progress through a National Dialogue on Open Science and Open Data, 25-26 & 27 April 2018, Kampala, Uganda

Through the network established on the continent, the African Open Science Platform project managed to make huge inroads into open data/open science policy discussions with many countries. One of these countries is Uganda, which hosted a high-level Uganda Open Data/Open Science National Dialogue and associated meetings during 25-26 April 2018 (separate meetings on 27 April 2018). We are incredibly thankful to the principal organizer, Mr Raymond Katebaka, Secretary General of the African Union of Conservationists, as well as to Prof David Bakibinga (Professor of Commercial Law, Makerere University), for their major contributions in taking the existing conversation forward, bringing all important stakeholders in Uganda together. The African Open Science Platform was a proud funder of the event which was coordinated together with the African Union of Conservationists, with great support from the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (UNCST).

The meeting was well attended by more than 60 people, and included the Executive Secretary, Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (UNCST); Assistant Commissioner, Ministry of ICT and National Guidance; National Environment Management Authority (NEMA); Ministry of Health; Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS); National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U); with some key researchers from Makerere University.

The workshop discussed Uganda’s draft Open Data Policy, and workshop sessions discussed research data issues, incl. strategy and stakeholders, barriers and incentives, policies, technical infrastructure and training. Valuable meetings were held with the Vice-Chancellor of the Makerere University, the Executive Secretary and team at UNCST, the Director of Research and Graduate Training, Makerere University, and the RUFORUM Secretariat. Opportunity was also given to participants to share their projects on open data, subject repositories, visualisations and the much needed cyber infrastructure needed. The conference also had the underlying theme of how Open Science can address achieving the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Through this work AOSP managed to prioritise open science and open data in Uganda.

One of the deliverables is a report to inform the way forward on a Uganda Open Science/Open Data policy. Needs were expressed in terms of data training and infrastructure, and AOSP is looking forward continuing working with Uganda in taking all forward.

Selected presentations delivered are available as follows:

Thank you to all the presenters, and specifically Nozuku Hlwatika, Susan Veldsman & Simon Hodson representing AOSP during this highly successful event.

Comment by one of the participants:

“Although, I was only able to attend the last session, I felt that the dialogue triggered our thoughts on open data, and provided a platform to talk, participate and make critical efforts towards an open data policy in Uganda.Thanks for the opportunity and lets keep the dialogue going-on in anyway possible.”

Photo below: Meeting of Conveners of the National Dialogue on Mainstreaming Open Data with Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, 26/04/2018 — with Raymond Katebaka, Susan Veldsman, Simon Hodson, David Bakibinga at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.

Libraries as important stakeholders in data management: AOSP participation during SCECSAL XXIII, Entebbe, Uganda (23-28 April 2018)

Librarians are important stakeholders in providing research data support to scientists, because of the many skills they offer, their focus on providing and disseminating access to high quality research information resources, of which data sets one of many. ASSAf – through the AOSP project – contributed to raising awareness amongst librarians during the bi-annual SCECSAL XXIII Conference, hosted by the Uganda Library and Information Association, from 23 to 28 April 2018, in Entebbe, Uganda. In addition to a paper being presented on “The Role of Librarians in transforming the world through Open Data and Open Science”, ASSAf (AOSP) also hosted a workshop on Open Science for librarians, addressing library roles in terms of:

  • advocating for science and data to be open and transparent;
  • recommending data repositories for researchers to re-use existing datasets;
  • managerial and curation role in terms of managing institutional research data sets, and lastly,
  • integrating research data management training as part of information literacy skills training.

As with all areas, roles are evolving, and more can be added to the above. The Accord on Open Data in a Big Data World acknowledge the contribution librarians can make, and librarians agreed that more needed to be done in terms of embracing open science and open data, towards achieving the UN SDGs.

Valuable networking took place, and AOSP is looking forward welcoming more librarians across the continent to this conversation, also through AfLIA and IFLA.

Please get in touch with your library, and enquire about research data support. Also encourage librarians to become part of the conversation.

Making the African Voice heard – opportunities for collaboration through open data

The 11th RDA Plenary brought together data scientists, experts and practitioners engaged in the advancement of data-driven science and economy from across the globe. During the opening of the session, Hilary Hanahoe (Secretary General RDA) compared the work done by members of the Research Data Alliance (RDA), being aligned, and similar to that of a well-conducted orchestra, working towards the same goal. Opportunities and challenges of a global ecosystem of best practices, standards and interoperable data infrastructures fostering cross-disciplinary knowledge and innovation, were discussed – among many others. The theme of the conference was “From data to knowledge”.  Knowledge in the end to lead to innovation and more. For research data to have the desired effect,  digital research assets have to be transformed to a digital enterprise to be successful, and support is needed from funders, private sector and governments.

If Africa wants to become and remain a global player, it will have to invest in data management as well as actively participate in global discussions such as the Research Data Alliance (RDA) Plenary discussions. The challenges faced by Africa are different from challenges faced by Europe, the USA, and well-resourced countries, and although different, all are connected and impacts on the other. Where Africa currently has conversations about data used to solve physical health problems in the form of Malaria and Ebola, better resourced countries are discussing using data to mirror brain activity to address mental diseases such as Alzheimers (read more about The Human Brain Project, a H2020 FET Flagship project which strives to accelerate the fields of neuroscience, computing and brain-related medicine.). Well-resourced countries also have open science/open data policies in place, where Africa has only started the conversation, hoping to create more awareness of the importance of open science/open data policies on national and institutional level. African countries at the forefront – discussing national Open Science/Open Data policy – include: South Africa, Botswana, Uganda, Madagascar, Ethiopia.

A major take-away from this very important event was that there are great opportunities for collaboration, and the upcoming International Data Week 2018 conference would be ideal for researchers from the north to join and explore possible partnerships with researchers from the south. During a brief introduction of the African Open Science Platform project, this was also the message communicated to the audience. AOSP is looking forward to continue this conversation during the upcoming IDW2018 conference, but also through contributing a data science capacity building framework in partnership with a newly proposed RDA Working Group, part of the Education and Training Interest Group.

AOSP February 2018 Communique

We would like to share some of the activities with which we will be involved in during 2018, and a bit more about the IDW 2018.

Call for Session Proposals for International Data Week 2018

We have until 19 Feb. 2018 to submit our proposals. If you have planned to do so, please don’t wait too long. IDW 2018 promises to be an excellent opportunity to discuss and learn from data intensive activities happening on the African continent, and we hope all will make use of the opportunity to participate. Please click here for more info on the Call for Sessions.

All it requires at this stage is an abstract of between 300-600 words, and 3-4 proposed speakers, on a topic aligned with the conference themes. Thank you so much for considering!

We are inviting Sponsors!

If you know of possible sponsors, or can sponsor on behalf of an organization, please get in touch with us. It would be highly appreciated.

More info:

Events in which AOSP hopes to participate

We hope to meet/see many of you at the following events, during which we will be contributing in different ways.

  • Ethiopia National Institutional Repository Workshop 20-21 Feb. 2018, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • WACREN 2018 Conference 15-16 March 2018, Lomé, Togo
  • 11th RDA Plenary 21-23 March 2018, Berlin, Germany
  • AOSP Strategic Meeting 28-29 March 2018, Pretoria, South Africa (on invitation only)
  • BioVision 2018 Conference 20-22 April 2018, Cairo, Egypt
  • SCECSAL XXIII Conference 23-28 April 2018, Entebbe, Uganda
  • Uganda National Workshop on an Open Science/Open Data Policy 25-26 (& 27) April 2018 (on invitation only)
  • ELPUB 2018 Conference 22-24 June 2018, Toronto, Canada (to be confirmed)
  • BRICS 3rd Young Scientist Forum 2018 25-30 June 2018, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (to be confirmed)

Thank you to so many individuals and organisations supporting our efforts, and taking open science and open data forward in your respective countries and institutions!

Kind regards