The International Data Week 2023 witnessed a pivotal moment with the introduction of the Africa PID Alliance (APA). Presented by Joy Owango of TCC Africa, APA confronts the digital research challenges in Africa, presenting innovative solutions to enhance accessibility.
In celebration of data, innovation and collaboration, a diverse global community of data scientists, researchers, industry leaders, and policymakers gathered at the International Data Week 2023 (IDW 2023), held from October 23–26 in Salzburg, Austria. IDW 2023, organized under the overarching theme of " A Festival of Data,", not only served as a meeting ground for visionaries shaping the future of global data science but also facilitated discussions on the latest advancements, challenges, and opportunities in the dynamic landscape of data. Among the notable presentations was Joy Owango, the executive director of TCC Africa, who introduced the Africa PID Alliance (APA)—a transformative project addressing the pressing need for Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) specific to the African context.
Digitizing research outputs is a significant challenge in Africa, limiting access to valuable knowledge and hindering the dissemination of indigenous knowledge, cultural heritage, and patent data. Currently, only 10% of African patents are globally accessible, showcasing the need to develop solutions that enhance accessibility and promote equity.
In her presentation, Ms. Owango highlighted APA’s mission to secure the future of African innovation, indigenous knowledge, and cultural heritage. The Africa PID Alliance (APA), under the umbrella of the Open Infrastructure Program of the Training Centre in Communication (TCC Africa), aims to provide persistent identifiers for often overlooked areas, such as indigenous knowledge, cultural heritage, and patent data, to make this information accessible globally. Through a dedicated infrastructure hosted in Africa, APA seeks to collate and disseminate knowledge, benefiting African researchers and innovators.
To address the challenges posed by the lack of digitization of research outputs and promote its mission, APA seeks to employ a multilinear approach. This approach focuses on establishing a robust Digital Object Identifier Container (DOCID) system as a foundational element of the APA's infrastructure. DOCID, proposed as a hybrid digital object identification model, serves as a centralized hub for connecting diverse digital objects, from indigenous knowledge to patent data, providing a structured and accessible platform for consolidating information and promoting equity in the dissemination of knowledge. Partnerships and collaborations also factor majorly in this approach, to ensure that APA's initiatives integrate seamlessly into the broader scholarly ecosystem.
You can access Joy Owango’s presentation here, starting from minute 27:42- 42:26: RDA BO 6 PID IG Equity and Inclusion universal access to PIDs
What became evident from the presentations and discussions at the International Data Week 2023, is a shared commitment to dismantling barriers in global research. As the global community continues to strive for open science, collaboration, and inclusivity, initiatives like the Africa PID Alliance (APA) represent a significant step forward in promoting equity, accessibility, and preservation of African knowledge and heritage on a global scale. These initiatives play a crucial role in addressing disparities within the African scholarly landscape, fostering a more interconnected and inclusive future.
The Africa PID Alliance is an Open Infrastructure project of the Training Centre on Communication (TCC Africa). The programme is dedicated to focus on the three neglected areas; African Innovation, Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Heritage.
The programme focuses on infrastructural development, policy and advocacy, and capacity strengthening. They aim to establish a sustainable scholarly infrastructure system with persistent identifiers, engage policymakers for favorable legal frameworks, and support policy actors in data mining processes. Their capacity strengthening involves training programs and collaborations to empower a competent workforce. The alliance's project, Invest in Open Research (IOR) from Africa, supports infrastructure, capacity building, seed funding, and policy advocacy. A percentage of the revenue from Africa PID Alliance is allocated to IOR as part of their fundraising strategy.
These focus areas are aligned with the programme's objectives to overcome these challenges of digitizing research output by creating Persistent, Accessible, Affordable Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) in Africa. This initiative is crucial for advancing research accessibility and preserving cultural heritage.