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[NAIROBI] A new network linking researchers and practitioners from the global South is expected to enhance openness and collaboration in science as a tool for development.
The Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network (OCSDNet), which was officially launched in Kenya on 23 October 2014, aims to make the production and dissemination of scientific evidence inclusive and publicly accessible.

“This collaborative network has the potential to empower communities through openness, democracy and autonomy to create better livelihoods and open societies that lead to better decision-making.”
Simon Carter, International Development Research Centre

Lidia Brito, a professor of wood science at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, roots for increased South-South scientific collaboration.
“More than ever, scientific communities have to work together to address development challenges beyond their borders,” explains Brito, who is also the director for science policies and capacity building of UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Sector and one of five OCSDNet advisors.
Brito believes that open and collaborative science is also a way of promoting joint knowledge production that is very relevant for the younger generation of researchers, especially those who focus on information and communication technology (ICT)-related policies.
OCSDNet is coordinated by iHub — a technology incubator based in Kenya — and the University of Toronto Scarborough in Canada with support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) to achieve a better understanding of collaborative science and build a community of open science practitioners and leaders.
Simon Carter, director of IDRC regional office for Sub-Saharan Africa, commends the initiative: “This collaborative network has the potential to empower communities through openness, democracy and autonomy to create better livelihoods and open societies that lead to better decision-making.”
A group of 14 applicants from Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Middle East and Asia with diverse disciplinary backgrounds on open and collaborative science attended an OCSDNet proposal development workshop as part   of the launch. The applicants represented 11 countries including Costa Rica, Kenya, Lebanon, Tanzania and Uganda.
According to the network, they were selected from 90 applications in response to calls for concept notes on case studies that describe the linkages between open science and development. Each applicant would be expected to carry out a two-year project that is to begin in January 2015.
Josiah Mugambi, iHub’s executive director, said that the network is important because it directly links iHub’s existing research work by looking at the role of citizens in the scientific process, including data collection and verification.
Among the proposals was a study on ICT and governance in East Africa that explores various ways in which ICT tools can successfully facilitate or hinder two-way interaction between government and citizens towards effective public service delivery.
One of the participants, Josique Lorenzo, from the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Centre in Costa Rica, says she has learnt a lot from the other 13 projects that have been proposed by her peers.
“I work in the field of natural resources management, and one thing that strikes me about knowledge as a resource is that it does not deplete from using it,” said Lorenzo, during the launch. “Knowledge tends to grow when shared…”
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.