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GO FAIR Implementation Network Africa launched in Leiden

On 22 August, the GO-FAIR IN Africa was launched: an implementation network under the GO FAIR efforts to train, build and change the next generation of the Internet of FAIR Data and Services (IFDS).

The IFDS aims to create a machine- and human readable network on top of the current internet. In order to prepare the current internet for a machine-readable next generation, FAIR proposes an extremely light set of principles to make sure that data are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable. Data are enriched with human and machine-readable metadata. Connection of digital data will prepare the way for almost infinite applications.

Global implementation of FAIR is necessary

The European Commission has been driving the development through the European Open Science Cloud and adopted its implementation plan in August 2019. The adoption of FAIR-Data by the European Commission has been critical for the kick-start of the IFDS. The implementation is supported by the GO FAIR International Support & Coordination Office (GFISCO) International, which is based in Leiden.

In a recent study on implementation of the FAIR principles, it was found that the majority of implementation is taking place in Europe, with the United States in second place. The study argued that it was important and necessary to step up implementation in Non-Western regions. In order to be relevant, the IFDS must have a global implementation.

Data science in African context

Responding to the concerns, the African region has proposed an African Implementation network – launched on the 22nd of August in Leiden in the presence of the leadership of African universities. The GO FAIR IN Africa is supported by African universities in South, East and West Africa. The meeting discussed the importance of data science for African science, the need to train capacities in this area and to ensure that what is built is adapted to African context and is adopted and embraced by African scholars and the public.

A lot of work will need to be done in order to achieve the involvement of African science institutions and application developers. It will be especially challenging to ensure that data is owned and appropriated within the African governance and contextual realities and that its use will contribute to the common good.

Collaboration with Leiden University

Kampala International University (KIU) from Uganda and Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) have established collaboration with Leiden University (Leiden Centre of Data Science, GO FAIR and LIACS). The focus is on capacity building through joint PhD research to establish FAIR data points and data centres in Africa. These will help boost connected science and data-relevant services, such as digital heath.

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