Published Versions 2 Vol 2 (1) : 246–256 2020
FAIR Practices in Africa
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Abstract & Keywords
Abstract: This article investigates expansion of the Internet of FAIR Data and Services (IFDS) to Africa, through the three GO FAIR pillars: GO CHANGE, GO BUILD and GO TRAIN. Introduction of the IFDS in Africa has a focus on digital health. Two examples of introducing FAIR are compared: a regional initiative for digital health by governments in the East Africa Community (EAC) and an initiative by a local health provider (Solidarmed) in collaboration with Great Zimbabwe University in Zimbabwe. The obstacles to introducing FAIR are identified as underrepresentation of data from Africa in IFDS at this moment, the lack of explicit recognition of situational context of research in FAIR at present and the lack of acceptability of FAIR as a foreign and European invention which affects acceptance. It is envisaged that FAIR has an important contribution to solve fragmentation in digital health in Africa, and that any obstacles concerning African participation, context relevance and acceptance of IFDS need to be removed. This will require involvement of African researchers and ICT-developers so that it is driven by local ownership. Assessment of ecological validity in FAIR principles would ensure that the context specificity of research is reflected in the FAIR principles. This will help enhance the acceptance of the FAIR Guidelines in Africa and will help strengthen digital health research and services.
Keywords: FAIR data; Health; Digital Health; digital health in Africa; GO FAIR; Implementation Network
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Article and author information
Cite As
M. Van Reisen, M. Stokmans, M. Mawere, M. Basajja, A. O. Ong’ayo, P. Nakazibwe, C. Kirkpatrick & K. Chindoza. FAIR Practices in Africa. Data Intelligence 2(2020), 246–256. doi: 10.1162/dint_a_00047
Mirjam van Reisen
M. van Reisen ( guided the content of this article based on her research onthe applicability of FAIR in Africa and the East Africa Community, providing feedback to other co-authors,final reviewing and editing of the article.
Mirjam van Reisen is Professor International Relations, Innovation and Care at Tilburg Universityand Professor Computing for Society at Leiden Centre for Data Science, at the University of Leiden.Van Reisen is Research Leader of the Globalization, Accessibility, Innovation and Care (GAIC)network. Van Reisen is the Coordinator of the Go-FAIR Implementation Network Africa. Van Reisenis a member of the Dutch Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) and Chair of theDevelopment Assistance Committee (COS). Van Reisen leads the oganisation EEPA in Brussels. Sheis a member of the Board of Philips Foundation and the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation.Van Reisen received the Golden Image Award in 2012 by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Mia Stokmans
M. Stokmans ( provided the theoreticalunderpinning of the article together with M. Mawere ( who contributedlargely on provisions of case studies in Zimbabwe, including examples and critiques from this perspective.
Mia Stokmans is an Associate Professor at Tilburg University, Tilburg School of Humanities andDigital Sciences. She holds a Master of Science in Economic Psychology as well as ResearchMethods from Tilburg University and a PhD in Consumer Decision Making from Delft Universityof Technology. Stokmans is a member of the Research Network Globalisation, Accessibility,Innovation and Care. Her fields are the role of attitudes and emotions in human decision making,social processes for behavioral change and mixed method approaches to research.
Munyaradzi Mawere
M. Stokmans ( provided the theoreticalunderpinning of the article together with M. Mawere ( who contributedlargely on provisions of case studies in Zimbabwe, including examples and critiques from this perspective.
Munyaradzi Mawere is Professor and Research Chair at Great Zimbabwe University’s SimonMuzenda School of Arts, Culture and Heritage Studies. He holds a PhD in Social Anthropologyfrom the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He also holds three Masters Degrees in the areasof Philosophy, Social Anthropology and Development Studies. Mawere has participated in a widerange of research projects which include Culture and Heritage Sustainability in North-westZimbabwe, Environmental Conservation in Southeastern Zimbabwe, and Health Services Utilisationin Masvingo, among many others. Mawere is an internationally renowned researcher and author,with over 75 books to his credit.
Mariam Basajja
M. Basajja ( carried out the literature review analysis of the data and reviewed and edited the article.
Mariam Basajja Mariam Basajja is currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Science at Leiden University Netherlands.Her topic is on “Designing a FAIR Data Point for Digital Health in Uganda”. Her main focus is onhow data-integration through FAIR data supports overcoming lack of sustainability of Digital HealthSolutions in Uganda. She holds a Master’s degree in Advanced Computing Machine Learning, DataMining and High Performance Computing from University of Bristol, UK. She also has a Bachelor’sdegree in Applied Computer Technology with a concentration of Software Engineering. Mariam isalso a member of the African Women In IT Africa (AfricanWIT) Group whose aim is to acceleratethe progress of the African Women in the field of Information Technology.
Antony Otieno Ong’ayo
A. Ong’ayo ( contributed in the writing of several paragraphs withregards to the applicability of FAIR in the African context as well as feedback on other paragraphs.
Antony Otieno Ong’ayo is an academic Researcher at the International Institute of Social Studiesof Erasmus University in The Hague. He holds a Bachelor degree in Political Science, a Masterdegree in Political Science (Politics and development) from the University of Stockholm, respectivelyand a PhD in Humanities (International Development) from Tilburg University. He is an associateresearcher with Globalization, Accessibility, Innovation and Care (GAIC) and member of theImplementation network Go-FAIR Africa. His research interests are in the areas of politics ofdevelopment, migration and development, digital citizenship and governance.
Primrose Nakazibwe
A. Ong’ayo ( contributed in the writing of several paragraphs withregards to the applicability of FAIR in the African context as well as feedback on other paragraphs.
Primrose Nakazibwe holds a PhD from Tilburg University, Netherlands where she defended herthesis titled Gender and Commodity Chain Analysis. She holds a Master’s (MA) and a Bachelor’sin Development Studies from Mbarara University of Science and Technology. She is a seniorlecturer, Mbarara University of Science and Technology in the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Trainingand Research, and senior lecturer at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Ndejje University, Uganda. Sheis a founding head of Department for Gender and Women Health Degree program at MbararaUniversity of Science and Technology.
Christine Kirkpatrick
Christine Kirkpatrick oversees the San Diego Supercomputer Center’s (SDSC) Research DataServices division, which manages infrastructure, networking, and services for research projects ofregional and national scope. Kirkpatrick is a recognized expert in the implementation of researchcomputing services, with an emphasis on data science workloads, as well as operationalcyberinfrastructure (CI) at scale. Kirkpatrick founded and hosts the US GO FAIR Office at SDSC, isthe Executive Director of the US National Data Service (NDS), and Co-PI and Deputy Director ofthe West Big Data Innovation Hub (WBDIH). She co-chairs the All (Big Data) Hub InfrastructureWorking Group and is co-PI of the Open Storage Network. Kirkpatrick received her master’s degreefrom the Jacobs School of Engineering at University of California San Diego. She serves on theTechnical Advisory Board (TAB) for the Research Data Alliance (RDA), and the external AdvisoryBoards for the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Hub and EOSC Nordic.
Kudakwashe Chindoza
K. Chindoza ( reviewed and edited the article contributingtechnical understanding of the FAIR framework in Zimbabwe and its potential in an African context andworked on citations.
Kudakwashe Chindoza holds a Master of Commerce degree in Information Systems fromGreat Zimbabwe University (2015) and a BSc Information Systems Honours degree from MidlandsState University (2006), in Zimbabwe. He is currently a lecturer at Great Zimbabwe Universityin Zimbabwe. His research interests are ICTs for Sustainable Development, Digital HealthcareData Management, Interoperability of Heterogeneous Systems, and Governance of Web BasedTechnologies.
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