Overview of OA in Africa:
Open Access (OA) movement in Africa is growing. Over 300 OA journals are published in sub-Saharan Africa and there are over 40 OA repositories in the region and at least twice as many are planned. African Journals Online and Bioline International support journal publishers in the region. African Journals OnLine (AJOL) is an online service to provide access to African-published research, and increase worldwide knowledge of indigenous scholarship (over 115 journals are OA). And Bioline International is a not-for-profit scholarly publishing cooperative committed to providing OA to quality research journals published in developing countries. It works with about 20 journals from sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, thousands of researchers in the region also publish in international OA journals such as BioMed Central and Public Library of Science (PLoS) journals.
University of Pretoria (South Africa) became the first African University that adopted an OA mandate. Currently there are three other universities with OA policies (mandates) in the region: Covenant University (Nigeria), Strathmore University (Kenya) and University of Johannesburg (South Africa). International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) (Kenya/Ethiopia) adopted a proposal to use an open licence for its published outputs.
OA is on the agenda of most active library consortia in the region and they receive support from international organizations like EIFL and INASP. Another organization, the Irish African Partnership for Research Capacity Building (IAP), brings together universities in Ireland, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda in a high-level partnership to develop a coordinated approach to research capacity building in order to make an effective contribution to the reduction of poverty through its OA repository.
The Scholarly Communication in Africa (SCA) programme – a three-year, IDRC-funded initiative aimed at increasing African universities’ contribution to regional and global knowledge production – has just been launched jointly hosted by the Centre for Educational Technology and the Research Office at the University of Cape Town; four African universities (University of Namibia, the University of Cape Town, University of Mauritius and the University of Botswana) are used as study sites and work in close collaboration with The Southern African Regional Universities' Association (SARUA).
Stellenbosch University provides support (on-site trainings and sharing useful materials online) to new OA repository managers in the region and the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) in partnership with UNESCO Cluster Office in Southern Africa are training OA journal publishers.
Although there have been great strides in OA in the region, more awareness raising, advocacy work as well as capacity building are still needed to introduce OA policies and mandates in the region; convert subscription-based journals into OA journals and launch new OA journals; set up OA repositories, make them sustainable and encourage researchers and students to self-archive.
Despite some hurdles, all major stakeholders – researchers, research managers and policy makers, journal editors and publishers, librarians, practitioners, students and general public- have started to understand the benefits of OA and have started to implement OA projects in the region. In addition, SARUA, representing 64 universities in sub-Saharan Africa, released a research report on Opening Access to Knowledge in Southern Africa, which recommended OA as a potential strategy for the region. It is also very encouraging to see strategic statements like the following which illustrates the importance of OA in the region and the role it can play. “One of the key pillars of the University of Botswana new strategic plan “Strategy for excellence” is “Research Intensification”. OA will help the University of Botswana, Government, and research institutions to achieve this pillar by ensuring online accessibility to public funded research output that can be freely shared by everyone, enhance research quality, and improve visibility of the institution and the nation globally.” - Professor Frank Youngman Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Botswana
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