The Genesis of Africa University Network

The Genesis of African University Network


The Globalization, Accessibility, Innovation, and Care (GAIC) research network was established with the aim of ensuring access to health care in low-income and rural communities and post-conflict areas as well as vulnerable people. Researchers at GAIC has since been engaged in broad-spectrum area to reach the community. Basing our engagement on research, with design in practices in Africa and capacity building, the African University Network (AUN) emerged.

Main Initiatives

Cognizant of the importance of data science and its relevance in fighting pandemic the Virus Outbreak Data Network (VODAN)-Africa was established as a platform to enable access to critical data needed from Africa to fight the novel COVID-19. In an effort to reach community of youth and women to develop employment skills, the Development Innovation Skills Hub (DISH) was created as an e-learning platform to contribute to stability, peace and resilience. The FAIR (Findability Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability) guiding principles have also been adopted in the management of data among our researchers.


There is a lack of capacity on FAIR data production and management since it is an emerging concept. Creating a good data stewardship program requires development of new skill sets even for those that already have format education. This entails the need for further funding and engament of multiple stakeholders. In VODAN-Africa, the design practice followed is human-centered. The health workforce is not only the beneficiary of the developed system but also owner and contributes to the product. The following FAIR-ORL governance framework has been established.


The principles of engagement we follow are Ownership, Localization and compliance to the Regulatory framework. The main pillars are the FAIR guiding principles, Ownership, Localization and compliance with the Regulatory frameworks of each of the partnering institutions – while making sure we comply with GDPR and other global standards as well. We have made sure data is federated, stays in residence, is secure, and is available for data visiting.

The Genesis of Africa University Network

Priority Actions

  1. Establishment of African University Network on FAIR ethical quality data to create and use AI-ready data.
  2. Creating a FAIR Digital Health Information system – Harnessing the value from VODAN Africa and scale-up of best practices.
  3. Strengthening the Datastewardship program – empowering communities and fostering innovation through the DISH platform and the lessons gained from it through the support from NUFFIC.

Key Findings

  1. Developed DISH and VODAN-A MVP Software Platforms.
  2. Deployed VODAN-A MVP in 88 health facilities across 9 African countries.
  3. Enrolled >10,000 students in 6 countries via 9 partners, and 15 courses.
  4. 9 PhD students engaged in Research and Development activities.
  5. Globalization and Partnerships with African Universities.

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