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Open Data Day 2019: open science events in Benin and Cameroon

- March 21, 2019 in benin, cameroon, Open Data Day, open data day 2019, Open Science

This report is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2019. On Saturday 2nd March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. AfricArxiv and APSOHA received funding through the mini-grant scheme by the Frictionless Data for Reproducible Research project, to organise events under the Open Science theme. This is a joint report produced by Justin Sègbédji Ahinon and Yves Valery Obame: their biographies are included at the bottom of this post.

Open Data Day 2019 Cotonou, Benin

On Saturday, March 9, 2019, Open Data Day Cotonou took place at the Blolab in Cotonou, jointly organized by AfricArxiv and the Waziup Iot Clubs. Open Data Day is an annual celebration of open data around the world. The main organizer of this event on a global scale is Open Knowledge International, a global non-profit organization whose purpose is to foster and encourage the use of open data to solve societal problems. Open Data Day is in 2019 at its ninth edition, and the themes selected this year are:
  • Open science
  • Monitoring the flow of public funds
  • Open mapping
  • Data for equal development
For the Cotonou edition, the main theme chosen for the discussions was that of open science. The main objective is to raise public awareness of the importance of open science and open data for Benin and Francophone Africa in general and of open access publishing. With about twenty participants and three speakers, many topics related to open in general were discussed. These include open science in Francophone Africa, open educational resources, open data and citizenship. The various speakers during the day were people who were experts in open science and open data, which made the discussions all the more interesting and at the same time stimulated public participation.   These are the themes of the different discussions of the day as well as their speakers:
  • Open Science: Introduction, State of Play and Participation in Francophone Africa
    • Justin Sègbédji Ahinon: WordPress developer, co-founder of AfricArxiv
  • Open Data Promotion in Benin: what is the role of citizens?
    • Maurice Thantan: Web Journalist, President of the Association of Bloggers of Benin
  • Open Educational Resources and Use Cases
    • Franck Kouyami: Systems and Networks Engineer, Technical Officer of the Cotonou Francophone Digital Campus and Chair of the Benin Internet Governance Forum
  • Round table: #OpenScience, #CivicTech, State of play in Francophone Africa
    • Justin Ahinon, Maurice Thantan, Franck Kouyami

Open Data Day 2019 Yaoundé, Cameroon

In fellowship with international actors for Openness, The Cameroon Laboratory for Research on Contemporary Societies (CERESC) in partnership with APSOHA and the OER-Cameroon Association, organized a conference on “Discovering infinite wealth of open data in scientific research” with the objectives of: sensitizing researchers at the University of Yaoundé I to adopt best practices of open research data; sensitize and socialize the Cameroonian scientific community to the concept of Open Data. Open Data, which was at the center of the exchanges, are data to which the access is completely public and free of right, in the same way as their exploitation and reuse. In Cameroon, Open Science and its components (open data, open access, open education …) is not yet widespread and renowned in academic circles because of weak communication and a lack of activities related to open science. Cameroonian researchers and students are therefore not always well informed of the opportunities and benefits they can derive from embracing this movement. The celebration of Open Data Day 2019 was therefore a good opportunity to continue to sensitize the research community of State Universities in general and those of the University of Yaoundé I in particular of the importance to adhere to this worldwide movement. The focus of this day’s work was sharing the experience of the National Institute of Statistics (INS), a government agency that hosts a project and Open Data database. This sharing of experience, through hands-on access to this database, allowed over 80 participants to see the benefits of open data to researchers. The majority of participants was not even aware of the existence of such a database available and opens for their research and that they themselves could supply. Challenges for the implementation of open data in academia in Cameroon remain numerous: the indifference of decision-makers, the absence of openness-friendly research policies, the glaring lack of digital infrastructures, the lack of literacy among decision-makers and researchers are a few. The very rich exchanges between participants and speakers of this conference made it possible to take the measure of these difficulties and gravities and the measures to face them. The flagship resolutions at the end of the work were to build, with external partners, an open access digital database portal for research, and to draft an Open Science policy for the University of Yaoundé I. The complete report is available at www.ceresc.org

Biographies

Justin Sègbédji Ahinon is a WordPress developer with a background in applied statistics. He is strongly interested in open access issues in Africa as well as in the dissemination of knowledge and the means by which it is carried out on the continent. He is a fellow and recently a mentor of the Open Leaders program of the Mozilla Foundation. Yves Valery Obame is a teacher in the Government Teacher’s Training College (GTTC) in Cameroon, member of Cameroon Laboratory for Research on Contemporary Societies (CERESC) of the University of Yaoundé I and a Ph. D candidate in Sociology. Founder of OER-Cameroon (@oer_cameroon), an open movement devoted to raising awareness and promoting the use of open educational resources in Higher and Secondary Education in Cameroon. He discovered the open perspectives (Access, Education, Data, Science) quite recently but its vision and objectives are in line with this work of awareness, through his teachings, that he leads and shares with his students in Cameroon and developing countries on the need for equal, justice and free access to knowledge. He is equally involved, with APSOHA, in advocacy work in the academic milieu.