Provision of cloud computing facilities that provide networked computation, data access and analysis tools for African Science
Promoting and realising, together with partners, the creation of a federated African network of existing and new facilities, with a research cloud offering state-of-the-art computing in centralised environments, complemented by distributed device nodes at the edge of the network, to provide flexible and economically efficient computational capacity, data stewardship and networking services to users. The AOSP is advocating and promoting the further development and coordination of Educational and Research Networks, planning to accelerate and coordinate the participation in the global ecosystem for Open and FAIR data and working with others to promote and deliver an African Open Science Cloud providing more seamless access to data and computing capacity.
Provision of software tools, experience-based advice on research data management and on open science policies and practice.
The principles, policies, practices and data and publication tools that have been found to be of value in maintaining an Open Science environment have been collated during the Platform pilot phase, and will be maintained by engagement with the CODATA network of expertise as international experience evolves. Adaptation to African needs, where necessary, will be managed through a ‘Tools Network’ which will also organise regional meetings to create awareness of available tools. The national fora currently being created will also be a communication route for the maintenance of best practice in national systems.
Create and sustain high level, internationally competitive research capacity in data analytics and artificial intelligence in support of platform science priorities.
This will provide a fundamental resource for the Platform in ensuring that researchers have access to novel, state-of-the-art data analytic tools, and particularly of AI, which are making dramatic advances in the productive use of data resources.
Create an African Artificial Intelligence and Data Science Institute with a thee-fold function: to be an innovative centre for cutting-edge research on data analytics and artificial intelligence, that is strongly connected to the best international work in the domain;
- to develop data scientists and data engineers able provide the data analytic and AI skills needed to support data intensive applications in both public and private sectors and to provide a source of talent for data science research;
- to provide support in the application of appropriate analytic techniques to platform users and to priority research challenges (see Strand 4).
Consideration is being given to a structure based on a number of dispersed centres, but co-located or associated with existing bodies in cognate areas (e.g. mathematics/computer science etc.) to ensure that each centre has a significant critical mass.
Programmes of data-intensive research that place African scientists at the international forefront in the application of data technologies to major research domains, as a fundamental resource for a modern society.
Programmes will be developed that stimulate intra-African collaboration, identified as a priority in the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024, in major data-intensive programmes in science areas where Africa is data-asset rich, where domain scientists are active, which are important to African states, and that have the potential to attract collaboration with the best scientific institutions world-wide. It would be a potentially powerful route to the development of the African research base and of the much-needed intra-African collaboration identified by the strategy. The examples of such programmes as shown in the text box below would also provide essential underpinnings for several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A major initiative of the Committee on Data (CODATA) of the International Science Council (ISC) to integrate diverse data relating to a complex phenomenon could provide a novel multidisciplinary data backbone for many such programmes. The current absence of such an integrative capacity to characterise complexity undermines attempts to define pathways to global sustainability.
Create understanding, awareness and capacity in citizens and professionals in dealing with a data- and information-intensive world.
A Network for Education and Skills in Data and Information will be created. It will have three foci:
- Children are growing into an increasingly complex world of data and information. The capacity to negotiate that complexity and to avoid its pitfalls is increasingly important for individual well-being and for development of the judgments required of responsible citizens. There is potential in this for collaboration with the IBM Digital- Nation Africa programme.
- In collaboration with other partners (International Centre for Theoretical Physics – ICTP; Research Data Alliance - RDA) CODATA delivers training workshops in data science, which have well-developed curricula. It is important that universities increasingly take over this role by providing data science education as an integral part of bachelor’s programmes as well as at more advanced levels for researchers and research trainees.
- Short courses for professionals. There is an increasing demand for in-service short courses in data science and management for professionals from a wide variety of sectors. Such courses will build on the existing CODATA curriculum and could be a significant source of income that would contribute to self-sustenance of the Network.
Develop a community where access to data, information and scientific expertise is enabled and where scientists are engaged in cross-societal collaborations that jointly frame and jointly seek solutions to significant problems.
Create a Network for Open Science Access and Dialogue and an access portal that stimulates and supports engagement and joint action between scientists and stakeholders in business, government, NGOs, community groups and citizens, for the purposes of open innovation, public policy and data diplomacy. It is important that the network adapts to the needs of the communities involved, and is managed to do so.