Africa’s first ever IDW peps up minister

“It is such a delight for me to be welcoming the ‘world’ to this momentous occasion to talk about data,” said the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Mr Ngaka Ngaka, at the start of the 2018 International Data Week (IDW) that the University of Botswana is hosting in Gaborone on Monday.

Indeed, hosting the conference has been an honour for both the University and Botswana especially that it is the first ever to be held on African soil and the second such after Denver, USA about two years ago.

UB is hosting this year’s event on behalf of a consortia of key stakeholder institutions that have come together to drive Open Data Open Science movement.

The consortia includes the Committee on Data (CODATA) of the International Science Council (ISC) and the ISC World Data System (ISC-WDS), the Research Data Alliance and the African Open Science Platform as well as the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology. The theme of the event is Digital Frontiers of Global Science.

It brought together more than 820 participants representing 66 countries. Botswana was represented by over 250 participants. Overall, the conference brought together professionals, researchers, policy makers, industry leaders, youth, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector to share knowledge and best practices in innovation and data management.

Mr Ngaka was upbeat that Botswana’s hosting of the conference demonstrated her commitment to benefit from the transformation precipitated by data revolution. He observed that it was through data driven research and innovation that knowledge-based economies which Botswana aspires would be built for the benefit of societies.

“Data is now the new global currency and the world is fast moving into the reality of Big Data,” he said, adding “data is also central to all our global and national partnerships. Data, thus builds inclusive societies.”

As if not to be outdone, Mrs Hilary Hanahoe, Research Data Alliance Secretary General, would summarise her experience thus: “Over two years ago, this week was more than a dream. A concrete desire to hold the second edition of International Data Week here in Gaborone.”

To Mrs Hanahoe, the 2018 IDW was a dream that had been brought to realisation by many people, but was excited that from the outset Botswana Government supported the idea.

She said to have over 820 data professionals and researchers from all disciplines from across the globe, representing 66 countries to discuss and find solutions for the many, many data challenges that the world was currently facing, was an amazing success.

“Botswana shows its leadership and determination in this field nationally, regionally and globally. In the wonderful backdrop of Gaborone. We are immensely grateful to the Government of Botswana, particularly Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, for their generous support, Said Mrs Hanahoe gratefully.

She could not also help thanking the University of Botswana for hosting the conference. She particularly thanked Dean of the Faculty Science Professor Julius Atlhopheng, Head of Department of Computer Science, Dr. Audrey Masizana and HPC Project Coordinator, Dr. Tshiamo Motshegwa, who are members of the University of Botswana IDW Programme Committee and their members of staff for making this happen.

“Our local hosts, the University of Botswana on behalf of the Botswana Open Data Open Science Forum have been instrumental in the achievement of this complex event, the presence of over 250 participants from Botswana is an indication of their tireless efforts and dedication to the event not just internationally but locally too,” reckoned Mrs Hanahoe.

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