Wednesday, March 20, 2013

UNECA launches ASKIA initiative

ASKIA portal
Various initiatives to enhance the visibility and to improve access to digital content from and on Africa are under way across the continent. On 14 March 2013, I witnessed the launch of one such initiative, the Access to Scientific and Socio-economic Information in Africa (ASKIA), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Mr. Makane Faye, Officer-in-Charge of the Knowledge Services and Library Services Section at the United Nations Economic Commission (UNECA), launched ASKIA at the plenary session of the Third Session of the Committee on Development Information, Science and Technology (CODIST-III).
According to Faye, the ASKIA initiative defines a framework for bringing together a variety of scientific and socio-economic information for the African community, including scientists, researchers, students, economists and policy makers, over an interactive online portal. The initiative, which responds to the recommendations made at various CODIST meetings and conference across Africa by African experts from the fields of information and libraries and policy makers, will focus on the following:
  •  ASKIA online portal: which will serve as a one-stop access point to all knowledge from/on Africa;
  • ASKIA Federated Search Engine: which will facilitate collation and discovery of knowledge  from/on Africa through a single search;
  • Geo-data repository: a repository of maps from Africa;
  • Knowledge hub: which will provide value added services through knowledge contextualization;
  • Capacity building: focusing on enhancing capacities of institutions in UNECA member states through partnerships.
ASKIA’s goal is to strengthen online knowledge discovery and access by tapping into global scientific and socio-economic knowledge on and from Africa.
ASKIA is also an implementation programme of the African Virtual Library and Information Network, which unanimously endorsed by an expert group meeting convened by UNECA at the second meeting of the Committee on Development Information (CODI-II) in September 2001.

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