31-03-2020Webinar on the role of data to address COVID-19


The AERAP Africa-Europe science data platform convened a webinar on 31 March 2020. The meeting explored synergies between radio astronomy scientists and digital medicine researchers to study how computational data science can aid the fight against COVID-19, in particular with Africa.

The AERAP platform is composed of data scientists from Africa and the European Union, drawn from academia, industry and government bodies. The objective of the platform is to create a partnership to advance functional science capacity building in both continents to build a unique data science capacity and capability to address shared global challenges. In so doing, AERAP works to support the implementation of AU and EU policy objectives: Horizon Europe and NDICI are examples.

 The principal speaker on 31 March was Prof of Pathology Kurt Zatloukal, from the Medical University of Graz, in Austria. He summarised the vital role the data plays in addressing the current COVID-19 crisis. In particular, when data comes from patients, we need to understand the different levels of patient disease responses. Also, data is required from different parts of the world to conduct meaningful analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence and its outputs, including for epidemiological science.  The discussion focused on access to computing power, the need for capacity building that provides the open and shared resource to address global challenges generally but in particular COVID-19.


Radioastronomy has been an historical driver for data-driven science and distributed computing that benefits many disciplines including biology and medical sciences. The radio astronomy community agreed to explore how data-enabled science astronomers are advancing and how computer resource reallocation can contribute to improved health outcomes.

While the COVID-19 situation is tragic, it does crystallise the need for genuinely international collaboration, supported by an enabling policy and regulatory environment. AERAP is committed to furthering networks and demonstrating how data sciences can support policy objectives in Europe and Africa.

The Africa-EU AERAP platform will organise a “COVID–19 and data sciences seminar” Webinar on 2 July 2020.  

 The Webinar will start the process of building the basis for a coherent strategic approach towards digital cooperation and capacity building between Africa and Europe. It will bring together different fields of application for data-driven science, amongst others radio-astronomy, digital health, precision agriculture and advanced forms of digital communication to build a common platform for a wide variety of digital applications for Africa defined by Africans, working on solutions in close cooperation with Europe.

The Webinar will also discuss the role of key stakeholders in the process,  including Civil Society and the private sector to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.

The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory has been put in charge of efforts to ensure the country has enough respiratory ventilators to weather the Covid-19 pandemic.

A 4 April statement from SARAO said that it has been mandated by the Department of Trade and Industry to “manage the national effort required for local design, development, production, and procurement” of ventilators.

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