Open source collaboration across continents

Ground breaking south-south collaboration when Bolivian Open source Research Information Management system will be used and further developed in Tanzania.

One of the benefits and the strong points of open source software is that it encourages and enables collaboration, not only on the level of software but also at the level of development and implementation. In this particular case, it became the vehicle for a bottom up, South-South collaboration between universities on two different continents.

Through the bilateral collaboration with Sida and with coordination from SPIDER Universidad Mayor de San Andres (UMSA) in La Paz in Bolivia developed a Research Information Management System, (RIMS) that enables management of research in a systematic way, tracking the progress of academic work and courses and management of the research funding and grants.

Intercontinental Open Source Collaboration

Between UMSA and UDSM


with support from SPIDER

Connected to make practice of digital principle #7

Programming Languages Differ

Structuring and Programming the RIMs – experiences with different programming languages required a hands-on approach from Angela and Victor.

Modeling and Controlling

The structure and parameters of the RIMs, how to model and Control the system.

Every programmer speaks code

While there were multiple languages in the group, switching between English, Swedish, Swahili and Spanish the team was united by the technical terminology of Java PHP and other programming languages that recognise no national boundaries.

Exploring the RIMS

Already during the training sessions where Victor from UMSA explained various aspects of the RIMs, the team from UDSM began to explore the system and the ways to adapt it to UDSM’s context.

System expansion

The benefit of open source is that you rely on the collective body of work for all involved in the development of the system.

A look back

at what the day has accomplished, and what remains to be done

A job well done!

This system was presented at the Sida partner meeting for bilateral university collaboration in Stockholm in May 2016 and representatives of University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) from Tanzania quickly realised that they did not need to develop a similar system, the tool had already been developed in Bolivia.

The strength of open source is that it is freely available to use and modify but it also requires a lot of know-how and modification at the outset to adjust the software to the needs of each new user. To ensure that UDSM got the best out of this opportunity, the UMSA partners agreed to travel to UDSM for a five day training to carry out the initial capacity building and customisation of the system to the needs of Tanzania.

Both universities will use this system and develop additional modules and features as needed, these will be shared in a common open repository that anyone can use and or modify as needed.

With long-term strategic bilateral collaboration and with the support of organisations such as SPIDER, international development in tertiary education can avoid duplication and foster collaboration across national borders and continents. The developed tools are freely available to other universities around the world.

The team that made the knowledge transfer happen in March 2017

(from right to left) David Silva Parra (SPIDER, Project Coordinator for Bolivia Bi-lateral Program, David also acted as the interpreter), Angela Vargas Hinojosa (Systems Developer UMSA, together with Victor developed the RIMs) Victor Paco Flores (Systems Developer, UMSA), Danny Livingtsone (System Administrator, UDSM), Dr. Tarimo (ICT Manager, UDSM), Rashid Bakari (System Admin, UDSM), Ally Bitebo (System Admin, UDSM), Noela Jonathan (Administrator, UDSM), Caroline Wamala Larsson (Programme manager research, SPIDER), Acklan Majaliwa (System Admin, UDSM), Morry Kijonjo (Administrator, UDSM), Shukrani Manya (UDSM-Sida Programme Coordinator).

Photos: SPIDER

UMSA - Universidad Mayor de San Andrés

The bi-lateral project at Universidad Mayor de San Andrés

UDSM - University of Dar es Salaam

The bilateral project at University of Dar es Salaam