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Africa and Latin America agree to closer collaboration around open science

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April 12, 2021 - Today, 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.”

Matthews Mtumbuka, CEO of the UbuntuNet Alliance says: “The promotion of digital repositories, open access and open science is very important to UbuntuNet Alliance and its NREN members. Researchers and the public across the region are in dire need of services that increase the visibility of local research and this collaboration will go a long way in helping this. We as UbuntuNet Alliance are ready to play our role to achieve our joint vision and common goals.”

“WACREN has been leading the LIBSENSE initiative, which brings together research and education (REN) networks, librarians and other stakeholders to increase capacity and strengthen infrastructure for open science”, says Dr. Boubakar Barry, CEO of WACREN. This collaboration with LA Referencia/RedCLARA will increase our momentum and present new possibilities for REN services in support of open science”

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About LA Referencia

The Federated Network of Institutional Repositories of Scientific Publications, or simply LA Referencia, is the Latin American network of open access repositories. LA Referencia is integrated by government representatives of public science and technology agencies of the member countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Panama, Peru and Uruguay, together with RedCLARA.

LA Referencia was born through the Cooperation Agreement, signed in Buenos Aires in 2012, which reflects the political will to offer in open access the scientific production of Latin America as a regional public good with emphasis on the results financed with public funds. Through its services, it supports national Open Access strategies in Latin America, sharing and giving visibility to the scientific production generated in institutions of higher education and scientific research.

About LIBSENSE

The LIBSENSE initiative, which was launched in 2017, has been building a community of practice for open science and progressing the adoption of open science services and infrastructures in Africa. LIBSENSE is led by the West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) in collaboration with sister regional African RENs (ASREN and UbuntuNet Alliance). Other participating partners include several national RENs, libraries, library associations, universities and research communities in Africa, in conjunction with COAR, EIFL, University of Sheffield, National Institute of Informatics (Japan), GEANT, and OpenAIRE.

About RedCLARA

RedCLARA is the Latin American Research and Education Network, regional leader and promotor of collaboration and development in education, science and innovation, by means of its e-infrastructure and services tailored for its community needs. RedCLARA provides regional interconnections and connections to the world through its international links and promotes the development of tools, services and research projects to empower regional scientific and educational development and the collaboration within Latin American R&E institutions and of Latin America and the rest of the world with an important focus on less developed regions.

About ASREN

ASREN, the Arab States Research and Education Network, is a non-profit international organisation, registered in Germany, and operates under the umbrella of the League of Arab States. ASREN is the association of the Arab region National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), as well as their strategic partners that aim to implement, manage and extend sustainable Pan-Arab e-Infrastructures dedicated for the research and education communities and to boost scientific research and cooperation in member countries through the provision of world-class e-Infrastructures and e-services. The goal is to connect Arab institutions among themselves and to the globe through high-speed data-communications networks; boost pan-Arab collaborative research and education projects and activities; and contribute to promote scientific research, innovation and education across the Arab region.

About WACREN

WACREN is the West and Central African Research and Education Network. It focuses on availing affordable high-speed network, providing digital services, promoting collaboration, and enhancing the capacity of the research and education (R&E) community to enable it to make a real impact on people and socio-economic development of the West Central African region. WACREN undertakes these through various projects and programmes supported by the European Commission and other partners. The regional REN collaborates with its 16 RENs at the national level to help the R&E community discover, use, and share knowledge and resources with their colleagues worldwide to help solve everyday health, environmental, and socio-economic problems in our region and beyond. More than two million members of the R&E community in our region have been impacted through the various projects and programmes since WACREN’s establishment in 2010. 

About Ubuntunet Alliance

UbuntuNet Alliance is the regional Research and Education Networking organisation for Eastern and Southern Africa. It plans, builds and operates UbuntuNet, the regional high-speed internet network dedicated to research and education in Eastern and Southern Africa. UbuntuNet Alliance also promotes and supports the integration of advanced ICT services and tools in research, teaching and learning, taking advantage of the opportunities that come with the Internet. The Alliance was established in the latter half of 2005 by five established and emerging National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), namely MAREN (Malawi), MoRENet, (Mozambique), KENET (Kenya), RwEdNet (Rwanda) and TENET (South Africa). The Membership region of the Alliance spans across Eastern and Southern Africa, covering 26 countries. Currently, 17 countries have joined the Alliance and are at different stages of development. The Alliance is incorporated as a Trust in Malawi and registered and recognized as an International Organization with its secretariat in Lilongwe, Malawi and a technical hub in Kampala, Uganda.