Unlocking Data Access in Africa: UbuntuNet Alliance’s Presence at Open Repositories 2023

UbuntuNet Alliance showcased its commitment to advancing open science at the Open Repositories 2023 conference held in Cape Town, South Africa from 12th to 15th June, 2023. Represented by their Business Development Officer, Harold Bowa, UbuntuNet Alliance actively participated in panel discussions and engaged with prominent practitioners in the field of open science.

Harold Bowa joined a distinguished panel organized by DataCite, UbuntuNet Alliance’s service partner, under whom the organization operates the DataCite consortium for Eastern and Southern Africa. The panel’s focus was on “Unlocking repositories through persistent identifiers: supporting data access worldwide.” The session aimed to share insights and discuss the adoption of persistent identifiers (PIDs) in Africa, including progress made, challenges faced, and recommendations for the future.

The panel featured practitioners from ORCID, another partner of UbuntuNet Alliance, renowned for their work in establishing unique researcher identifiers. Additionally, representatives from Eko-Konnect, the Nigerian NREN, and TENET, UbuntuNet Alliance’s South African member NREN, enriched the discussion with their expertise. Collaboratively, they explored the importance of PIDs in facilitating seamless data access and interoperability, especially in the context of African repositories.

Harold Bowa, drawing upon his experience within the UbuntuNet Alliance DataCite consortium, highlighted the consortium’s efforts in assigning Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to content held by repositories in Eastern and Southern Africa. He shared the journey since the consortium’s launch in June 2021, revealing progress with over 20,640 DOIs assigned to two repositories. Even though this is just a drop in the ocean, it represents a good start. The audience responded positively to the entire panel, sparking discussions and generating valuable recommendations for further PID adoption in the region.

Beyond the panel discussion, the Open Repositories conference provided UbuntuNet Alliance with exceptional networking opportunities alongside leading practitioners in open science. The conference’s strong emphasis on digital repository systems aligns perfectly with the direction African universities must embrace in the digital age. Engagements with colleagues in this field and private sector players seeking to expand their operations in Africa fostered valuable connections that hold the potential for fruitful collaborations.

Moreover, the conference served as a platform to raise awareness about UbuntuNet-Connect 2023, UbuntuNet Alliance’s annual community research and education conference. With a significant presence of librarians in attendance, UbuntuNet Alliance seized the opportunity to promote UbuntuNet-Connect and highlight its relevance to librarians and other special interest groups passionate about open science.

UbuntuNet Alliance expresses gratitude to the organizers of the Open Repositories 2023 conference for providing an inspiring environment to exchange knowledge, explore collaborations, and drive the adoption of PIDs in African repositories. With a renewed commitment to open science and a growing network of partnerships, UbuntuNet Alliance remains dedicated to advancing research and education in Eastern and Southern Africa, propelling the continent’s universities into the forefront of the digital era.

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