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Energising Scientific Endeavour through Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Sci-GaIA (Energising Scientific Endeavour through Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2017-04-30

In African Communities of Practice international collaboration and the pursuit of scientific endeavour has faced a major barrier with the lack of access to e-Infrastructures and network infrastructures enjoyed by European counterparts. With AfricaConnect first and now with 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. It has been demonstrated clearly that it is possible to develop e-Infrastructure services in Africa. It was also shown that easy-to-use web portals, or Science Gateways , enable Communities of Practice (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, deploy and operate e-Infrastructure services. Elements of guides and supporting material exist, but these are either written for different audiences, or out of date.

This Coordination and Support Action called “Energising Scientific Endeavour through Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa” (Sci-GaIA) therefore brings together these materials into clearly structured guides and educational documents that can be used to train and support representatives of NRENs, Communities of Practice and, importantly, Universities to develop Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa. This has created a sustainable foundation on which African e-Infrastructures can be developed. Importantly, the results of the project are usable by Communities of Practice in Africa, Europe and the rest of the world. To achieve this, we have brought together a highly experienced team that have worked between Africa and Europe in African e-Infrastructures.

What can Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures actually do for African Communities of Practice? These are key technologies in Open Science. Open Science as a core principle in making African Science more visible across the world. The FOSTER project (Facilitate Open Science Training for European Research) defines Open Science as “… the practice of science in such a way that others can collaborate and contribute, where research data, lab notes and other research processes are freely available, under terms that enable reuse, redistribution and reproduction of the research and its underlying data and methods.” The OECD has identified Open Science as being extremely important in the development of emerging economies. In our project we have embraced the principles of Open Science to attempt make African Science more visible to the rest of the world.

Sci-GaIA initially set out to create sustainable training to support scientific endeavour through Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures in Africa. To better motivate and to establish a clearer route to impact, the project shifted focus to embrace Open Science to better open up scientific achievements in Africa across the world. Overall, the Sci-GaIA project has made thousands of people made aware of Science Gateways, e-Infrastructures and Open Science and has created a sustainable ecosystem of Open Science compliant, Open Innovation capable and Open Education based collaboration across Africa. It has addressed a number of UN Sustainable Development Goals effectively addressed: (3) Good Health and Well-being, (4) Quality Education, (9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, (11) Sustainable Cities and Communities, (13) Climate Action and (17) Partnerships for the Goals. Overall the project has made effective impacts on African health and public health and, consequently, on the quality and duration of life. To get started with the Sci-GaIA project, and to understand its impact, see http://www.sci-gaia.eu/engagement/. Note all deliverables are available from http://www.sci-gaia.eu/deliverables/.
The main results of the Sci-GaIA project are:

• The Sci-GaIA e-Infrastructure development guidelines and materials
• The Sci-GaIA Survey to monitor and assess the implementation and uptake of e-Infrastructures services and Science Gateways in Africa
• A Sentinel to ensure the interoperability and interoperation between the African, the EU and the global e-Infrastructures
• The Africa e-Infrastructures Discussion Forum
• Supporting Established and Emerging Communities of Practice and promote the use of Science Gateways and e-Infrastructures to support Open Science
• Supporting African communities of practice by mobilizing universities as development resources
• The Sci-GaIA Open Science Platform
• Innovative training through the Sci-GaIA Hackfests
• Successful dissemination throughout the project
• During the second year of the project, WP4 has created a new brochure , a new roll-up banner and more than 100 videos! All media are gathered in the webpage http://www.sci-gaia.eu/media/.
• In the two years of the project, the Sci-GaIA website has been visited by 13,132 visitors coming from 157 different countries of the world (they were 72 at the end of the first year).
• Six more workshops than the three originally planned were organised, and two of them have been held in countries not belonging to the consortium, namely Ethiopia and Kenya.
• The Sci-GaIA “User Forum & Final Event”, codenamed “Sci-GaIA Festival of Open Science” was held on March 23-24, 2017 at the CSIR International Convention Centre (CICC), Pretoria, South Africa. The event was hosted by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a member of the Sci-GaIA consortium. The event was organised on two consecutive days. The first day was devoted to a scientific workshop especially targeting the users and early adopters of the Sci-GaIA Open Science Platform, while the second day was aimed to present the final outcomes of the Sci-GaIA project and discuss the present and future of e-Infrastructure and Open Science in Africa.
The impact of the project are therefore:

• The creation of the Open Science Platform, a DevOps-compliant public research e-Infrastructure (both Grid and Cloud based) for projects and applications, and supporting training and educational materials.
• The creation of e-Research Hackfests that uses effective challenge-driven education to train, innovate and create new services, applications and developers.
• The creation of 35 Champions who have has supported 24 Communities of Practice, created 7 new Science Gateways, multiple new services and 5 new Open Data Repositories.
• A thriving developer community that interacts through the African e-Infrastructures Discussion Forum, a web forum where people (users, stakeholders, decision makers) can freely discuss e-Infrastructure and Open Science related topics.
• A catalog of services for different types of “customers” that includes 19 new federated services and 30 new applications.
• A survey analysing trends in Science Gateway and e-Infrastructure development in Africa.
• An approach to ensuring interoperability and interoperation between African, EU and global e-Infrastructures of our Open Science Platform via an e-Infrastructure Sentinel.
• The successful creation of 100 dissemination and communication media, publications, many different Sci-GaIA events and the exciting Sci-GaIA Festival of Open Science that combined a Champions conference (the User Forum Conference) and a Final Project day that celebrated the project’s achievements.
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