The Association for the Promotion of Open Science in Haiti and Africa (APSOHA) is a non-profit organization working for the visibility and circulation of knowledge that is produced by local universities and is relevant for local populations. Our strategy is to empower researchers through cognitive justice and and the commons. To do this, we are using the tools of Open Science, Open Access, Open Data and collaborative work; we are also promoting Open Educational Resources, free software and open licences. Our work is embedded in values of openness, sharing, and solidarity. These activities and values that we have been advocating for since the creation of APSOHA are also aligned with OpenCon mission’s.
APSOHA at OpenCon2016
Satellites Events in Cameroon and Niger
Last year, there were two satellite events organized by APSOHA members: one in Cameroon and the other in Niger. OpenCon 2016 Niamey was organized by Hamissou Rhissa Achafert on the theme: " Réflexions autour d'une politique du libre accès à l'information scientifique et technique au Niger ". This was a successful event where the state of Open Access in Niger was analyzed, an Open Access policy for Niger was outlined, and recommendations were made for the adoption of Open Access. During the 9th International Open Access Week, Prudence Nkolo organized OpenCon Yaoundé 2016 on the theme: Quelle action en faveur de l'Open Access au Cameroun?
The Meeting at Washington
Supported by a travel scholarship, I had the privilege to participate in OpenCon 2016 in Washington, DC. The objective of my participation was twofold: first, I wanted to meet people, learn from them and discover what happening everywhere else in the world. On this line, the different presentations proposed to us have been very enriching, thanks to the shared experiences and know-how that each presenter had developed in his context.
Secondly, the opportunity was given to me to share our SOHA experience, with the rest of the participants, and to improve our practices and ideas. I did it by leading two unconference sessions, the first was on the Panafrican-Institutional Repository (PAIR) and the second on Hacking School Textbooks in Cameroon. This meeting allowed me to learn useful lessons for the continuation of APSOHA activities, especially with respect to platforms for the free dissemination of knowledge, best practices of sharing and networking. In short, the lessons I learned at the OpenCon enabled me to overcome certain barriers that I thought were impassable.
Our achievements since OpenCon 2016
From OpenCon to GOSH
Thanks to the remarks, advice and lessons I received at OpenCon 2016, I improved the design of the Parakou Open Access Box and the Pan-African Institutional Repository. It came out a poster that I presented to GOSH 2017 and that is accessible on the platform F1000.
The Pan-African Institutional Repository
The Pan-African Institutional repository, developed in part at OpenCon 2016, will:
Facilitate accessibility of African scientific works;
Allow the generation of publication lists per researcher, for evaluation committees
Offers member universities a showcase for their scientific work without investing in their own archive if they do not wish or cannot
Be interdependent with the open archives of the universities that will decide to invest to create a specific one
Ensure the visibility on the web of all archived work, in a more inclusive "open scientific conversation".
OpenCon provides an appropriate framework for actions in favour of free circulation and dissemination of knowledge, and APSOHA intends to continue to benefit from this framework.
Applications to attend OpenCon 2017 in Berlin this November close on August 1st. Visit opencon2017.org/apply to submit your application today!
Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou is currently the International President of APSOHA, the Association for the Promotion of Open Science in Haiti and Africa. PhD student in public communication at Université Laval, his thesis focuses on the maker mouvement and free culture in sub-Saharan Africa. With a Bachelors Degree in Biochemistry, and a Master in Didactics of sciences, Thomas Mboa is also passionate of Biohacking.