On June 20, 2019, Christine Mwongeli Mutuku has published an article entitled “Engaging a Data Revolution: Open Science Data Hubs and the New Role for Universities in Africa” in Open Information Science.
A Blog Post by Pablo Markin.
In her paper, Christine Mwongeli Mutuku has explored the role of Open Science data hubs at flag-ship African universities in data sharing and preservation, while indicating the reasons for which these institutions are “uniquely placed to play this new role in today’s technological world” (98). This research, thus, draws attention to the contribution of Open Science frameworks to “the generation, preservation and sharing of data and knowledge that can be used in the policy formulation process [in Africa]” (98).
In response to Africa’s data governance needs, Mutuku highlights the importance of “data stewardship as the concern of taking care of data assets that do not belong to the stewards themselves and considers the entire data value chain” (100). This article, thus, reinforces the position of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), according to which data needs to be considered as a public good and universities are recommended to continuously engage “in data collection, curation and sharing” (100). This is illustrated by the “Open Africa Forum by Code for Africa (2018) which aims to be the largest independent repository of open data on the African continent” (102).
Therefore, as Mutuku notes, concerning the promotion of Open Data polices in Africa, the key components of the latter are “securing political commitment, building the evidence base, embedding the [open] data revolution in African countries, financing and sustainability; building capacities and skills, and building partnerships and synergies (UNECA, 2015, p. 10)” (109). At the same time, this researcher also discusses the barriers to the implementation of Open Data policies in Africa, which include “the cultural environment, political constraints, capacity constraints, ethical concerns, [and] issues of [organizational] rigidity and time [limitations]” (110-111), while delineating preconditions for viable Open Science policies in this continent.
By Pablo Markin
Featured Image Credits: Aid for Trade Global Review 2019, July 3, 2019 | © Courtesy of Jay Louvion/World Trade Organization/Flickr.