On April 12, 2021, LA Referencia, RedClara and the three African regional research and education networks - ASREN, WACREN and UbuntuNet Alliance - signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalize their relationship as the two continents seek to ramp up their open science activities. The aim of the collaboration is to advance open science policies, services and infrastructure that reflect the unique needs and conditions of each continent within a framework of international cooperation.
Open science is a global trend focusing on widespread sharing of research results and is transforming the way research is done. As UNESCO works towards global Open Science recommendations, the issue has become more visible and there is a growing recognition that open science will help accelerate progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by increasing the impact of research in society.
There are important local and regional considerations in how open science and open access are approached and it is critical that open science policies, services, and infrastructures are designed and delivered to meet the needs and conditions of the local communities they serve.
“There are so many commonalities and shared experiences across the two continents”, says Yousef Torman, Managing Director, ASREN. “Closer collaboration with LA Referencia, will enable us to learn from their decade-long experience as a regional network, and will help to accelerate our progress towards open science in Africa and support greater discoverability of African and Arabic content.”
The MoU provides a framework for ongoing information sharing between the African Research & Education Networks (RENs), through the LIBSENSE Initiative and LA Referencia / RedCLARA, and the potential adoption of the LA Referencia open source discovery software in Africa. The collaboration is being fostered by COAR, the Confederation of Open Access Repositories, and with support from the pan-European GÉANT network, OpenAIRE and the EU co-funded AfricaConnect3 project.
“Equity and inclusiveness are fundamental values for our communities”, says Bianca Amaro, President of LA Referencia. “Rather than relying on centralized infrastructure and services hosted elsewhere, we aim to work together to build capacity and infrastructure in our regions that will support sustainable open science.”