Already at the beginning of the SASSCAL initiative, it became apparent that the southern African region was in dire need of a data centre that would ensure that information and the resources crucial to research and decision making processes are readily available.
Towards the end of 2014, the OADC/KE (Open Access Data Centre / Knowledge Exchange) materialised with the first two staff members being appointed at the Namibia National Node. Since then, every National Node of SASSCAL has employed OADC/KE colleagues and has established the infrastructure necessary to house data management systems and the relevant tools to develop products and provide services to its stakeholders.
As the SASSCAL 1.0 Research Portfolio is nearing its conclusion at the end of October 2017, the OADC/KE is facing a challenging workplan. The way forward for the Centre was discussed from 22 to 24 May 2017 in Johannesburg during a workshop where experts from the industry, research organisations, service providers from various relevant IT and technical sectors, institutions of higher education and governmental departments shared their knowledge and experience from engagements in the southern African region. Experts from the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research), SAEON (South African Environmental Observation Network), PinkMatter, University of Jena, University of Hamburg, University of the Free State, the Zambia Research and Education Network as well as from the National Science and Technology Council contributed towards the future design of the OADC/KE. The deliberations were supported by the presence of SASSCAL’s Executive Director, Dr Jane Olwoch, the SASSCAL Management Team as well as a representative of the Project Management Agency (DLR-PT), Dr Olaf Pollmann.
At the workshop, it was resolved that the OADC/KE will be responsible for putting in place an online data management system to host, safeguard and make available data and products that result from the SASSCAL Research Portfolio. In addition, it is expected that the OADC/KE will facilitate the creation of products and services that will result from the knowledge gained from the research tasks. The OADC/KE will also engage in partnerships with collaborating research institutions, initiatives and projects to create a larger impact in the region.