Botswana Open Science Open Data Case Study/Julius Atlhopheng
Botswana Case Study
Prof Julius R. Atlhopheng (University of Botswana)
The Open Data Open Science in Botswana – the developments so far
Data for citizen empowerment; creating opportunities and resolving
The Rationale for Open Data Open Science
• World Bank, Government of Botswana and the Botswana Innovation
Hub – conduct an assessment, on Botswana’s readiness.
• The report concluded in 2015, and affirmed Botswana was ready.
• That Botswana stands to benefit from the open data initiative, as data
impact would improve services and development.
• The report indicated the national institutions that must take a lead on
the initiative e.g. Ministry of Transport, National Strategy Office,
Statistics Botswana, Botswana Innovation Hub, as strategic foci
• Ministry of Transport, recommended to take the lead.
OPEN DATA OPEN SCIENCE – Botswana
• Data is essential to knowledge economy, data is for development,
data metrics help us measure impact of our interventions etc.
• Thus the world has come up with ‘data impact’ – and Botswana is at
the bottom 10 i.e. there is limited impact of data.
• Data drives initiatives, the National Development Plans and leads to
efficient systems (so much time lost on seeking data/information)
• Thus data leads to better services, more efficient development, hence
data is the new currency.
• There is need for legislative framework in Botswana, data
protocols/standards, National Research and Education Networks
(NRENS), data repositories etc.
ICSU-CODATA, RDA Visit to Botswana
• The CODATA_RDA visit to Botswana in 2016 started a new wave of
interest, effort and awareness on the initiative e.g. private entities
such as Joint Minds playing a facilitative role, with UB hosting most of
• A national adhoc committee was formed – i.e. National Steering
Committee, chaired by UB.
• A number of activities, in addition to weekly meetings included
extending the initiative to Ministry of Tertiary Education Research
Science and Technology.
• The drive was for policy development, to help with coordination of
Open Data Open Science initiatives-Botswana
• ‘Open Data’ is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed.
• It emanates from the concept ‘Open Science’ which itself aims to promote
transparency in experimental methodology, observation, and data
• This is to ensure public availability and reusability of scientific data.
• FAIR data principle = Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable.
Botswana held first
ever national forum on
data in October, 2017.
the following gaps:
Need for awareness
and discussion on
Need to highlight the
current data situation
Need for legislative
framework on open
data, for coordination.
What are the data needs/gaps for Botswana
• Policy implementation requires transparency (data), i.e. to
demonstrate that national efforts have impact.
• Data is needed to achieve set targets of the National Development
Plans etc. require data for their monitoring, evaluation & reporting.
• Lack of access to data leads to poor performance i.e. inability to solve
problems. Loss of opportunities.
• Data access enhances efficiency and better coordination.
• Botswana needs a data policy – to meet data needs, coordinate
them better i.e. better data impact for the nation.
Activities on Open Data Open Science
• A national action plan was drawn, on how to effect open data
initiatives nationally. Activities included a National Forum (October
• It was noted that, Botswana needs to consider several aspects
relating to data:
• Data Management & Repositories – what are existing repositories
and whether they meet data protocols & standards. Data capacity
• Data Awareness & Capacity Building – with Botswana pursuing
knowledge economy, it was imperative data use & re-use values were
appreciated. That access and interoperability needed to be built up.
• Coordinated Research Data Cyber-infrastructure: data sharing cuts
down on costs of ‘seeking’ data; NRENs are important infrastructure for
the developing Botswana. It is timeous to take advantage of the BOFINET
infrastructure, for better data sharing using FAIR data principles.
• Data Legislation, Governance & Policy: documentation of existing
legislation on data; highlight existing coordination which enhances data
sharing; and to draft a national policy on open data open science.
• Data for Innovation & Development: connectivity, tariffs; attitudes of
sharing data; benefits of open data e.g. jobs, revenue creation. Data
needs for development & innovations. Data for driving development &
• Key international Partners for hand-holding the national initiatives:
AOSP, CODATA in giving guidance, motivation, expert advice, funding and
for being resource persons.
Botswana National Forum Conclusions
1. Botswana building on her strengths - need to document successes e.g. existing
legislation, guidelines, policies etc. on open data open science. Show benefits of data
sharing e.g. emanating from reduced duplication; jobs made through data; that data is
a resource. Botswana currently seems to have no data sovereignty – e.g. personal
banking data etc. who controls our data (security).
• No data = missed opportunities on benefits of data impact.
2. Priority actions from the forum: Develop capacity in data management and
repositories; Profile types of data within institutions and their possible usage; Illustrate
revenue creation through data; NRENs developed (National Research Education
3. Develop a policy on open data open science: Adopt FAIR data principles for better
access and impact/equity of data; Data for drive knowledge economy initiatives;
develop infrastructure for efficient data access which drives innovations and
economies. Develop policy that would lead to a legislative framework.
Need for partnerships/funding on all these initiatives.
National Priorities and Data
• Vision 2036 – Achieving Prosperity For All
• The kind of Botswana we would have built by 2036 i.e. sustainable
economic development; human & social development; sustainable
environment; governance, peace & security to have been achieved.
• Transformation and Implementation imperatives of V2036 mean:
innovative breakthroughs; multi-stakeholders participation i.e. non-
state actors, private and public. Data metrics is essential to
• Status of innovations, SDGs implementation, national vulnerabilities
(e.g. droughts), successes etc. need data (extent, present, future).
For 2018 and beyond
• National feedback forum conducted in March 2018. High commitment
from national stakeholders to complete the roadmap.
• Implementation to be done through leading entities/institutions.
• A lot of enthusiasm during the forum discussions. A national strategy &
policy as high priority, so as to enable implementation.
• The knowledge economy, which the nation currently pursues, needs a data
• Knowledge economy – through data offers opportunities of interweaving
knowledge systems i.e. indigenous & modern scientific knowledge.
• Data is needed to measure the progress in NDP11, Vision 2036, SDGs.
INTERNATIONAL DATA WEEK 2018
• Botswana is hosting, for the very first time, IDW 2018.
• International Partners at the helm of coordination and capacitation.
• Africa faces many challenges, which need data innovations to be
• There are challenges to do with health & diseases epidemics;
monitoring interventions, storing/protecting records and benefits
associated with impact of data.
• The IDW2018 has included key developing world issues such as
industry, development, research, education, indigenous knowledge.