Given the current frailties of African data, a foundation of ACEIR’s work in each node is getting the data right. This requires frontier data scholarship and holds great possibilities for capacity development across the continent.
A key partner in this endeavour is DataFirst, based at the University of Cape Town. DataFirst has over 20 years’ experience in the curation and dissemination of data and is the only data service on the continent to have achieved the CoreTrustSeal certification as a trusted repository. Over the last decade DataFirst has also developed a specific competence in the assessment of data quality issues and in the harmonisation of data. Read more
Creating a data repository
In 2019, work commenced to support ACEIR partners and its network to create their own data hubs. Leading this undertaking is Prof. Martin Wittenberg and colleagues at DataFirst.
This entails providing access – on the DataFirst data portal – to the datasets specifically useful for the ACEIR research, and sourcing new datasets that are not yet public to add to the portal. Harmonised versions of existing data series will also be created by DataFirst to enable ACEIR’s comparative research. Online metadata will be created to document datasets in this collection properly.
The South Africa node is assisted by DataFirst with data quality assessments and the harmonisation of the South African data series, and the harmonisation of South African sub-national data.
Lastly, DataFirst will provide source code and data quality guides for the datasets, and facilitate training workshops at the Centre, its nodes, and within the broader African network.
Expanding partnerships for data capacity building
Drawing on DataFirst’s extensive track record on the African continent in training and capacity building in data curation and setting up dissemination portals, ACEIR strives to assist the establishment of a data centre for the research community in each node country. Given this group’s excellent established linkages to international centres of excellence and strong research interactions with groups within ARUA universities, plans are underway to consolidate and broaden the ARUA network by providing leading representatives from the African groups with the capacity to build strong national data centres to contribute to ACEIR’s collective analysis and research. Read more
Collaborating with national statistical offices
A central aspect of the ACEIR theory of change to contribute to evidence-informed policymaking is that each node enjoys very good working relations with their respective countries’ national statistical offices. These NSOs participate as researchers in ACEIR and as trainees in ACEIR capacity building programmes. There is particular interest from these agencies for capacity building in spatial mapping and analysis. Read more
Not just about data
While growing researchers’ capacity and putting in place the required data are essential to ACEIR’s success, it is not just about data. The country contexts also bring to the fore inequality dynamics that require novel analysis and will bring fresh theoretical extensions and challenges into the contemporary international literature on inequality in developing countries.
Established in 2018, ACEIR is one of the 13 centres of excellence of the African Research Universities Alliance.