There is a growing need for a wide range of ocean data and information in Africa - covering physical, biological, meteorological, geological, and chemical aspects of coastal and marine science. The Global Ocean Science Report, 2020 indicated that although the countries in the region surveyed regularly and collect some amount of the various data types, none has the capacity to generate adequate data for optimal management of its coastal and marine environments. Moreover, in most the countries, data collection is regularly, duplicated and existing datasets not shared, or other relevant sectors and agencies may not be aware of their existence. There is therefore need share data across countries to help mitigate the paucity of data and information.
Multiple reports and consortia have articulated the need for improved access to data and information, to facilitate better understanding and management of the marine environment in the region. More recently, in the regional decade consultations held in January 2021 in Nairobi, data was a key issue in the discussions. Specifically, five issues were raised:
- Need for an improved focus on user driven data;
- Challenges in data sharing related to a lack of common platforms, or incompatible metadata and data formats
- Lack of standardized policies in relation to open access data;
- Technical capacity and resource limitations; and
- Lack of trust between organizations to share data.