The continent of Africa is looking to beef up its data-collecting and storing capabilities, as was announced this week at the annual conference of the The Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) in Cape Town. A preview of the World Data Centre on Biodiversity and Human Health in Africa—which is set to open next year—was on preview at the meeting.
Data on Africa is currently primarily dispersed in countries outside the continent, but "the new centre aims to collect all this data into a single, online, resource that could be useful for African policymakers," SciDev.net reports.
Focusing on topics such as astronomy, geomagnetism, and solar activity, the Centre will allow researchers to layer subsets of data to understand how environmental trends relate to one another, such as climate change and malaria.
Because the field of data collection and management is still under-developed in the continent, policies to protect information have not yet been conceived and implemented. "There is a fear of what the data will be used for. We don't have data policies in Africa, and it's one of the things we need to look into," said Daisy Selematsela, executive director of the Pretoria's Knowledge Management & Evaluation Directorate at South Africa's National Research Foundation.