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H2020

Sci-GaIA Report Summary

Project ID: 654237
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.4.3.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Sci-GaIA (Energising Scientific Endeavour through Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-04-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

In African Communities of Practice (CoPs), international collaboration and the pursuit of scientific endeavour has faced a major barrier with the lack of access to e-Infrastructures and high performance network infrastructure enjoyed by European counterparts. With AfricaConnect, the proposed AfricaConnect2 and the regional developments carried out by both the Regional Education and Research Networks (RRENs) and the National Education and Research Networks (NRENs), this situation is changing rapidly. In the project Teaming-up for exploiting e-Infrastructures' potential to boost RTDI in Africa (eI4Africa) it has been demonstrated clearly that it is possible to develop e-Infrastructure services in Africa. It has also been demonstrated clearly that, as with the rest of the world, easy to use web portals, or Science Gateways, are needed to help CoPs to easily access e-Infrastructure facilities and through these collaborate with CoPs across the world. However, a major problem exists: it is very difficult for non-experts to develop Science Gateways and deploying and supporting e-Infrastructures. Elements of guides and supporting materials exist but these are either written for different audiences or out of date. This present Coordination and Support Action, called Energising Scientific Endeavour through Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa (Sci-GaIA), therefore proposes to bring together these materials into clearly structured guides and educational documents that can be used to train and support representatives of NRENs, CoPs and, importantly, Universities to develop Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa. This will give a sustainable foundation on which African e-Infrastructures can be developed. Importantly, the results of our project will be usable by CoPs in Europe and the rest of the world. To achieve this we bring together a highly experienced team of beneficiaries that have worked between Africa and Europe to advance African e-Infrastructures. The objectives of Sci-GaIA are therefore:

To promote the uptake of Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa and Beyond
• To create Science Gateway and e-Infrastructure development guidelines and materials for NRENs, CoPs and Universities. It will also monitor the successful implementation and uptake of standard-based Science Gateways and related e-Infrastructure services, such as Policy Management Authorities, Identity Federations and Open Access Document and Data Repositories, in Africa as well as ensuring the interoperability and interoperation between the African, the EU and the global e-Infrastructures.
To support new and already emerging CoPs
• To identify, promote and support both web-based and in-person cooperation between application facilities, service providers, and associated end-user communities that can gain in their fields from using the e-Infrastructure tools fostered and promoted by the project. This will also identify innovations and experiences made in the supported user-communities as well as the need for planning, development and coordination of policies, programmes and contents of Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures within these communities and in collaborations with important stakeholders such as NRENs.
To strengthen and expand e-Infrastructure and Science Gateway related services
• To expand and extend activities carried out in past projects in order to consolidate the African e-Infrastructure services and to include the very challenging goal of supporting the creation of an African Open (and Linked) Data Infrastructure, interoperable with and federated to (through the adoption of international standards and guidelines) those being consolidated in the EU and in other regions of the world. Sci-GaIA also aims at exploiting Open Access repositories together with Science Gateways in order to deal with very important topics such as the discoverability, reproducibility and extensibility of science products. All this will make African science and scientists more visible and will allow the extension of the principles of the European Research Area well beyond its southern border.
To train, disseminate, communicate and outreach
• To run training and dissemination events for Science Gateway and e-Infrastructure development and to showcase how CoPs can develop their gateways and infrastructure services, in tight collaboration with NRENs and Universities for long sustainability purposes. To disseminate project outcomes with the intense communication of its achievements and activities across Africa and beyond and with the publication on Open Access journals of the proceedings of User Fora and other important events.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the first reporting period (from May, 1, 2015 to April, 30, 2016) a number of activities have been successfully developed giving a firm foundation on which Sci-GaIA will be successfully delivered.

WP1: Promote the uptake of Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa and Beyond

• The Sci-GaIA e-Infrastructure development guidelines and materials

Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures are key technologies for Open Science. Sci-GaIA started and will continue to create a sustainable foundation of educational materials and procedures for the development and management of Science Gateways and e–Infrastructures in Africa and beyond.

Sci-GaIA created a web-based environment that contains educational materials and modules for Science Gateways, e-Infrastructure and associated ICT application development for Open Science. They will support the online and face-to-face training school as well as a sustainable education legacy (see http://www.sci-gaia.eu/materials/ for the course materials, http://courses.sci-gaia.eu for the Winter School course module and http://www.sci-gaia.eu/winter-school for the Winter School participants and outcomes). D1.1 e-Infrastructure & Science Gateway Development Guide for NRENs and Communities of Practice gives an overview of these outputs.

• The Sci-GaIA Survey to monitor and assess the implementation and uptake of e-Infrastructures services and Science Gateways in Africa
Sci-GaIA launched a survey on current or planned e-Infrastructure Applications (including HPC, Grid, Cloud Computing, Data Repositories, web portals, sensors, etc.) in Africa in order to continue to assess their success and identify the potential needs of news communities. (See http://surveys.sci-gaia.eu).

WP2: Support new and already emerging communities of practice

• The Africa e-Infrastructures Discussion Forum

A discussion forum has been created in response to the need for dialogue and capacity development. The forum hosts discussion topics on technical matters, scientific issues, e-Infrastructure policy and procedure aspects, as well as debate around and practice of Open Access and Open Science. The forum is actively moderated but also community-driven collaboration activities of several communities of practice . The forum has been integrated into most other services that Sci-GaIA is promoting and is an important part of the e-Infrastructure landscape. (See http://discourse.sci-gaia.eu).

• Supporting Established and Emerging Communities of Practice and promote the use of Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures to support Open Science

The AfricaGrid Science Gateway (see http://sgw.africa-grid.org/) hosts several applications which demonstrate how communities of practice may engage in Open Science workflows. Communities which Sci-GaIA supports include Bioinformatics, Life Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Pharmacology, Community/Public Health, Weather Information Management, and Electrical SmartGrids. Investigations are also underway for Open Labs and Challenge Driven Education with a number of African partners. Some of this work has resulted in joint funding applications to EU, SIDA, and World Bank between EU and African partners. Positive engagement has been made with pan-African scientific collaborations such as the H3Africa project.

Sci-GaIA is helping Communities of Practice (CoP) to support Open Scientific practices by identifying advanced ICT development and training needs, as well as developing a number of targeted demonstrators. The Africa Grid Science Gateway hosts several of these demonstrators. CoP areas that Sci-GaIA is working includes Bioinformatics, Life Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Pharmacology, Community/Public Health, Weather Information Management, and Electrical SmartGrids. Investigations are also underway for Open Labs and Challenge Driven Education with a number of African partners. Some of this work has resulted in joint funding applications to EU, SIDA, and World Bank between EU and African partners. (See http://sgw.africa-grid.org/). The specific CoPs are detailed in the report. D2.1 A comprehensive framework for accreditation and pedagogical support process formalization reports on how Universities can further support this work.

WP3: Strengthen and expand Science Gateway and e-Infrastructure related services

• The Sci-GaIA Open Access Repository

In addressing aspects of Open Science such as discoverability, reproducibility and re-usability of scholarly digital objects, Sci-GaIA runs a standards-compliant demonstrator repository. The repository is fully-functional – indeed is the project’s digital repository and objects are issued DataCite DOIs. The project has made it reproducibly deployable (cloned) using a template virtual machine. This could increase the number of standards-compliant repositories in Africa and make science which is “made in Africa” more visible, more re-producible and more re-usable. D3.1 Guidelines to setup and configure an appliance for the deployment of standard compliant Open Access Repositories details the specific processes involved. An introductory briefing has also been created .

WP4: Training, dissemination, communication and outreach

• The Sci-GaIA outreach activities: workshop, training, communication and dissemination.

Sci-GaIA delivered two of the three workshops dedicated to e-Infrastructures and Science Gateways with respect to Open Science aimed at strengthening collaboration among African and European scientists, supporting African Communities of Practice, engaging key local community stakeholders and reaching African policy makers. The first event was held in conjunction with UbuntuNet Connect 2015 in Maputo, Mozambique (November 2015) and the second event was held in conjunction with the WACREN Conference 2016 in Dakar, Senegal (March 2016) . The first of two training events, the Sci-GaIA Winter School, was also delivered in April 2016. Sci-GaIA also led brainstorming sessions in International Collaboration (ICT 2015 with TANDEM and MAGIC, November 2015 (Lisbon, Portugal)) and Practitioner and Academic Collaboration (Simulation Workshop 2016, April 2016 (Stratford, UK)).

Communication and dissemination tools and materials have been created including a graphical identity, a project factsheet and a brochure, a poster and a roll-up banner. In addition, the first three issues of the Sci-GaIA e-Newsletter were disseminated to over 6600 key European and African stakeholders in the field which are included in the project database. The Sci-GaIA project was also promoted through other tools, mainly through Twitter and LinkedIn. A Dissemination and Exploitation Plan and Communication Chart (D4.1) detailing communication and dissemination channels, tools and target audience was created at Month 2. Additionally, a set of resources has been developed to help people understand the relevance of Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures to themselves (see http://www.sci-gaia.eu/engagement/).

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Sci-GaIA is expected to have a substantial impact on the scientific and technological collaboration between Europe and Africa in several domains and on important topics such as e-Infrastructure creation and operation and extension of the ERA beyond the southern border of Europe. The adoption of the Science Gateway paradigm and the exploitation of standards such as SAML for authentication, SAGA for the interface of applications to the various e-Infrastructures’ middleware, and OCCI/CDMI for Cloud computing/storage access, will allow users to seamlessly access and use Grid, Cloud and local HPC services, both in Europe and Africa providing easiness to collaborate within all scientific disciplines across distances.

Furthermore, Sci-GaIA will make African (as well as European) research and researchers more “visible” worldwide and will contribute to the nowadays key topic of discoverability, reproducibility and extensibility of science products (also by the so-called “citizen scientist”). Moreover, worldwide standards (such as Semantic Web’s, Linked Data’s, OAI-PMH, etc.) and widely accepted guidelines defined in Europe (such as those of EUDAT and OpenAIRE) on Open Access and Data Preservation will be promoted in order to achieve a better interoperation and interoperability of e-Infrastructures, including especially Open Data Infrastructures. Last but now least, Sci-GaIA will contribute to the creation of didactic materials that will eventually be included in official curricula that will be usable in Africa, Europe and beyond.

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