The National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa will host the African Open Science Platform (AOSP) Project Office for the next 3 to 5 years. Supported by South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), key institutions in Africa, and the International Science Council (ISC), the AOSP (Science for the Future, the Future of Science) makes the case for bold action to mobilise the scientific community in Africa in responding to the challenges of the digital revolution. The new paradigm of Open Science is a powerful driver for scientific research and scholarship and its application to social, economic and global environmental priorities.
The AOSP Advisory Council, following a competitive process, awarded the NRF this significant opportunity to further establish and formalise a Continental platform. With a strong emphasis on African unity as a nuanced and dedicated focus, the NRF and the DSI recognise the significant potential of the AOSP as a means to create an inclusive and integrated culture of collaboration on the Continent in the service of democratising information and knowledge across social boundaries for the achievement of common goals and objectives.
The AOSP was initiated through a pilot phase supported by the DSI, and managed by the NRF and the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) during 2017-2019, with partners including the International Science Council (ISC), and its Committee on Data (CODATA). Outputs included the collective development of a draft roadmap for Open Science on the Continent, and four open science frameworks that informed the first consultative stakeholder meeting, held during 2-3 September 2019 in Alexandria, Egypt, to design the implementation phase of the AOSP. Coordinated by the Chairperson of the AOSP Advisory Council, Dr Khotso Mokhele, the Strategic Plan for the AOSP was launched during South Africa’s Science Forum in December 2018. The AOSP aims to build a critical mass of high-calibre open science research on the Continent, and will ensure that its projects are aligned with existing programmes and opportunities within regional and national research systems.
In collaboration with numerous key institutional and national initiatives, including Governments, Science Granting Councils, research infrastructure platforms, universities, and public and private research institutions, workstreams of the formalised platform will include the development of a legislatively compliant governance framework; the co-creation of a sustainable long-term funding model; and formalisation of the AOSP Operating Model.
The CEO of the NRF, Dr Molapo Qhobela, stated that: “The NRF is delighted to contribute to and support this strategic endeavour with a number of national and international partners. To excel in the new data dispensation, commitment and investment are required for Open Data policies, enabling Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure, and commitment to the necessary human capacity development”.
The AOSP Project Office, based at the NRF in Pretoria, South Africa, with selected staff appointments, will be launched during 2020.