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African Open Science Platform. Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?


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Presented at a NeDICC (Network of Data and Information Curation Communities) meeting, 14 March 2019, CSIR, and at the University of Pretoria and the Carnegie Corporation of New York Capstone Conference, 24-29 March 2019, Kieviets Kroon.

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African Open Science Platform. Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?

  1. 1. The Landscape of Open Science in Africa African Open Science Platform Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there? 1 Susan Veldsman & Ina Smith Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
  2. 2. Where are we? 2
  3. 3. The pilot study for the platform was initiated in 2016 under the auspices of and funded by the South African Government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) through the National Research Foundation (NRF), managed by an African Open Science Platform (AOSP) office hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). AOSP is an outcome of the Accord on Open Data in a Big Data World (Science International, 2015). 3
  4. 4. Pan-Africanism • Belief that people of African descent have common interests and should be unified • Envisions a unified African nation where all people of the African Diaspora can live • African Union (1963) safeguards sovereignty and territorial integrity of its Member States & promote global relations within the framework of the United Nations • African Union Commission has its seat in Addis Ababa and the Pan-African Parliament has its seat in Johannesburg & Midrand 4
  5. 5. Pan-African nature of AOSP The fundamental argument for the AOSP to be Pan-African in scope is based on the observation that the size, diversity and interactivity of a science community are key to its vitality, dynamism and creativity. 5
  6. 6. AU Agenda 2063: The Africa we want • “Rooted in Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance, [which] provides a robust framework for addressing past injustices and the realisation of the 21st Century as the African Century” • Aim of agenda to ensure that the voice of the African people will support “the enduring Pan-African vision of ‘an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena’” 6
  7. 7. Addressing the UN SDGs • Africa Consolidated Science and Technology Plan of Action (2005) • Collective actions to develop and use science and technology for the socio- economic transformation of the continent and its integration into the world economy 7
  8. 8. United Nations Economic Commission for Africa “the creation of an African platform for research and innovation exchange will enable the dissemination of goal-relevant African research and innovation to governments and citizens. It could form the basis for linking researchers and innovators with the funding required to scale up their work. The proposed platform would showcase and share Africa’s efforts to develop goal-relevant research and innovation and could be coordinated with the Global Innovation Exchange.” 8
  9. 9. Future AOSP “the long-term objective is for the platform to have a pan-African scope. It is anticipated that its initial growth will take place by: (i) coordination of effort between institutions in a smaller number of states that are able and willing to align their scientific data-related policies and practices to create mutual benefit […]; and (ii) agreements for collaboration between existing service providers and coordination of their activities to maximise benefit to the African science community.” 9
  10. 10. Challenges impacting on R&D 10
  11. 11. 11
  12. 12. Continental Stakeholders 12
  13. 13. Science Granting Councils Initiative 13
  14. 14. SGCI Statement of Principles and Actions: Social and Economic Impact of Research (2018) Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) participants should support and advocate for the development and use of Open Science platforms that widen access to knowledge and allow integrated problem solving at a potentially transformative (as opposed to incremental) scale. GRC participants should commit funding towards the development of the human capital necessary for leveraging the potential of Big Data, as well as invest in the infrastructure required materialising Open Science platforms. 14
  15. 15. STI Policies on the continent • African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators Initiative (ASTII)(NEPAD, 2005) • African Observatory of Science and Technology Indicators (AOSTI) (AU, 2011) “Creating open and free access publication outlets for Africa, with improved review committees” and highlighted the challenge of high article fee requirements for publishing in citation-indexed journals and the high subscription prices to commercially available databases. 15
  16. 16. Open Data Policies 16
  17. 17. ICT Infrastructure • Internet bandwidth & connectivity • 37 of 54 African countries are connected as a result of AfricaConnect & AfricaConnect2 • ISPs with monopolies • IXPs to make Internet cheaper and faster • AfricaConnect 3 from July 2019 • High-performance computing • Level 6 NRENs (Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa) • KENET (Kenya), TENET (South Africa), RENU (Uganda), and ZAMREN (Zambia) 17
  18. 18. • SADC Cyber-Infrastructure Framework (2016) • High-Performance Computing (HPC) Ecosystems Project (SKA countries) • High-performance computing facilities: 18
  19. 19. • Digital SADC 2027 • develop a solid information and communication technology infrastructure, addressing broadband challenges, affordable high-speed Internet, developing human capacity and skills in ICT technologies, and more • SADC Strategic Plan on STI (2015-2020) • guiding the region to create an enabling environment to harness science, technology and innovation as a tool to address socio- economic challenges for sustainable development in the region 19
  20. 20. • Data Curation (data repositories, RDM) • Science Gateways (6 from Sci-GaIA) 20
  21. 21. African ICT Infrastructure 21
  22. 22. Incentives 22
  23. 23. Capacity Building • Online and/or short courses (CODATA, Carpentries) • Universities: • African Centre of Excellence in Data Science (University of Rwanda) • African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) • Almaahad Almutagadem Specialized Computer Training Centre (Sudan) • High Performance Computing, India-Tanzania Centre of Excellency in ICT (ITCoEICT) (Tanzania) • Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS) Lagos State University (Nigeria) • Pan-African University (PAU, Kenya) • ICT Centre of Excellence & Open Data (iCEOD) (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya) • Sol Plaatje University (South Africa) • University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin) 23
  24. 24. • University of Botswana (Botswana) • University of Cape Town (South Africa) • University of Johannesburg (South Africa) • University of Pretoria (South Africa) • University of the Western Cape (South Africa) • University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) 24
  25. 25. Support through Statements & Declarations 25
  26. 26. 26
  27. 27. Open Science Activities 27
  28. 28. 28
  29. 29. Government data 29
  30. 30. • Africa Data Consensus roadmap (United Nations High Level Conference on the Data Revolution, 2015) • African Information Highway (AIH): Open Data for Africa Data Catalogue (AfDB) 30
  31. 31. Where do we want to go? S1: Cloud Computing & Analysis Tools S2: Software Tools & Policies/Practice for RDM S3: African AI & Data Science Institute S4: Data Intensive Research Programmes S5: Network for Data- Intensive Skills S6: Network for Open Science Access & Dialogue
  32. 32. Vision “African scientists are at the cutting edge of contemporary, data-intensive science as a fundamental resource for a modern society. They are innovative global exponents and advocates of Open Science, and leaders in addressing African and Global Challenges.” Source: The Future of Science and Science of the Future 32
  33. 33. Mission “The African Open Science Platform will convene and coordinate the interests, ideas, people, institutions and resources needed to advocate and to advance open science in and for Africa. The Platform is: • a federated system that provides scientists and other societal actors with the means to find, deposit, manage, share and reuse data, software and metadata in pursuing their interests; • a network providing connective tissue between dispersed actors in …. 33
  34. 34. … pursuit of shared and overlapping open science goals by: • supporting scientists in pursuit of the highest levels of excellence, in both curiosity-driven and application-driven research; • enabling consortia that wish to utilise powerful digital tools and cutting-edge data science to address important scientific problems; • developing open science capacities in individuals and institutions at all levels of public and private domains; • creating and supporting networks of engagement between scientists and other societal actors in open innovation and in addressing local, national and international issues of major public concern. 34 Source: The Future of Science and Science of the Future
  35. 35. Draft SA White Paper on STI, 2018 35 “As part of its commitment to African STI cooperation, South Africa will also work to advance the open science agenda elsewhere on the continent and within regional frameworks. The strategic role of the African Open Science Platform, hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa, which promotes African-wide development and coordination of data policies, data training and data infrastructure, will be leveraged with the support of the DST and the National Research Foundation (NRF).”
  36. 36. Similar to EOSC … "We are not building the future EOSC from scratch, but will be starting from what members of the community worked in the last years: inclusiveness is going to be critical, especially in regions whose voice has not been heard enough so far." - Cathrin Stöver, Chief Collaboration Officer, GÉANT 36
  37. 37. Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024) Sets out priorities for the African research community, including: 1. disease prevention & control; 2. climate resilience (disaster risk); 3. environmental protection (biosphere, hydrosphere); 4. food and nutritional security; 5. smart resilient cities; 6. achieving sustainability goals; 7. improved knowledge production; 8. improved intra-Africa research collaboration. 37
  38. 38. Priority Interdisciplinary Programmes 38 United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Climate & Water E.g. Climate Change, Agriculture, Hydrology, Resilient Cities, Disaster Risk Reduction
  39. 39. How do we get there? • Y3: Data-intensive flagship project • Y3: Open Science Infrastructure Roadmap • Call for proposals to “build” Future AOSP • Founders’ meeting – August, Egypt 39
  40. 40. Thank you! Also to DIRISA for hosting the AOSP web page Susan Veldsman 40