Lesotho

The National University of Lesotho Library has signed the Budapest Open Access Initiative – a major declaration in support of Open Access. And Prof. Mafa M. Sejanamane, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho, has signed the second major declaration in support of Open Access: Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and the Humanities. The Declaration builds on the significant progress of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, calling for Open Access to knowledge in the humanities as well as in the sciences. It also moves beyond the scope of primary literature, indicating, “Open Access contributions include original scientific research results, raw data and metadata, source materials, digital representations of pictorial and graphical materials and scholarly multimedia material.” Signatories commit to the principle of Open Access as well as to pursuing solutions that advance the internet “as an emerging functional medium for distributing knowledge.” In 2011 the National University of Lesotho has established the first institutional repository in the country.

Researchers from Lesotho publish articles in international Open Access journals, for example five articles (all of them highly accessed) have been published with BioMed Central – an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the Open Access publishing model – by researchers from Médecins Sans Frontières, National AIDS Commission, National University of Lesotho, The Matrix Support Group, Scott Hospital (Morija), UNDP, and HIV/AIDS Practice, United States Peace Corps.

PLoS ONE – an international, peer-reviewed, OA journal published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS) – published 7 articles by researchers from Médecins Sans Frontières, Morija.

Enabling Environment

Government support

The Parliament of Lesotho together with parliamentarians from 27 African countries (representing over 50% of the continent’s governments) as well as the Pan African Parliament, the East African Legislative Assembly, ECOWAS and the SADC Parliamentary Forum have signed the Kigali Declaration in March 2009. They recalled their governments’ commitment to the World Summit on the Information Society, considered the critical role of information in development, and highlighted a significant role that parliaments must play in promoting an equitable information society, through the enactment of legislation that supports transparency, accountability and openness. They underscored the need for information exchange, and agreed upon establishing a repository of policy, legislation, and regulations of each country in the areas of Information and Communications Technologies, in line with the African Information Society Initiative (AISI).

In September 2011 Lesotho Legal Information Institute was launched (LesothoLII), described as an internet based law reporting facility. In his keynote speech at the launching, Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla said the launching of LesothoLII is a birth of a new tool that will change the way justice has been delivered. He said the country has been empowered to publish its own judgements, legislation, bills, government gazettes, inquiry reports, green and white papers and a lot of other legal information for free access by broader members of the community. The Lesotho Legal Information Institute has been supported and funded by the African Legal Information Institute that has also been the force behind the creation national law reporting facilities across the continent.

Science and technology has officially been identified as a priority area for higher education in the country. And the value of higher education is noted in both the National Indicative Plan and Country Strategy Paper (2008-2013) as well as the Poverty Reduction Strategy (2005) (MCRI Report).

Internet Access

The Prime Minister of Lesotho, on his return from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) conference held in Geneva in October 2009, applauded the objectives of the gathering, which encouraged internet connectivity in all the countries of the world. He announced that in Lesotho, while the target date for full connectivity was 2015, they intended to achieve that goal by 2012.

Potential Barriers

There are 21 tertiary-level public institutions and 15 private tertiary institutions and the National University of Lesotho, established in 1975, is the only university in the country.

Lack of national laws and policies enabling public access to information

Open Access to information is often seen as too a technical issue and therefore has often been removed from policy discussions. Lack of an enabling environment, appropriate legislative and policy tools slow down Open Access developments in the country.

Lack of capacities and poor ICT infrastructure

Many organizations still lack capacities to provide Open Access to research results – they lack IT support and infrastructure. Non-digital materials need to be digitized and it is difficult to get funding for digitization.

Major Projects/Initiatives

With the support from the UNESCO Cluster Office for Southern Africa, Lesotho for the first time will celebrate International Open Access Week from the 24 to 30th October 2011. Celebrations intend to sensitize the community that comprises academics, students, librarians, researchers, policy makers and ICT professionals and others who have a role to play in making knowledge freely available. The National University of Lesotho Library as the host and organiser of the event, will show-case its achievements in the Open Access endeavours, show experience with other relevant libraries to set up a network of sustainable Open Access projects in the country.

Details of Key Organizations

The National University of Lesotho Library: its mission is to make accessible to learners, lecturers, researchers and the entire learning community, a dynamic information resource in order to give a practical meaning to the University’s purpose as a repository of knowledge and a centre of excellence. The library now has a digital library whereby different collections of past examination papers, journals, theses and any other important documents can be accessed online. Contact: Dr Matseliso Moshoeshoe-Chadzingwa, Librarian, mamahlape[at]gmail.com.

Lesotho Library Consortium (LELICO) that is comprised of the following institutions: High Court, Lesotho College of Education, Lesotho Planned Parenthood, Lesotho Institute of Public Administration Management, Lesotho Highlands Development Authority, Lerotholi Polytechnic, National Assembly, National University of Lesotho with its branches, National Health Training Centre, Central Bank of Lesotho, Lesotho National Library with four branches serving as public libraries in four districts, Centre of Accounting Studies, Institute of Development Management, Lesotho Agricultural College and Agricultural Research. Contact: Dr Matseliso M. Moshoeshoe-Chadzingwa, Librarian, mamahlape[at]gmail.com.

See Is Open Access to information through libraries on the agenda at the African Union when it comes to assessing countries’ development under the African Peer Review Mechanisms? – asks Matseliso M. (Tseli) Moshoeshoe-Chadzingwa, National University of Lesotho and LELICO, EIFL country coordinator in Lesotho and EIFL Advisory Board member, in her paper presented at the 76th IFLA General Conference and Assembly, 10-15 August 2010, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Past and Future OA Related Activities

Open Access and Institutional Repository: New Models for Scholarly Communication workshop was organized by EIFL on 24-25 April 2007 at State Library, Maseru.

Journal editors from Lesotho attended “Regional Workshop on the Benefits of Open Access for Research Dissemination, Usage, Visibility and Impact”, in November 2010, and identified several needs as priorities in scholarly journal publishing. These were: increasing scholarly publishing in developing countries; building capacity to grow Open Access in this region; analysing the cost and benefits of publishing a journal and subsequent business models for journals; identifying possible publishing platforms; and creating regional alliances to deliver and scale up scholarly publishing.

As a follow-up, the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), in collaboration with UNESCO, presented a workshop on Open Access publishing on 18 and 19 August 2011 in Pretoria (South Africa) for journal editors from Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland. Open Access publishing aims to provide universal, unrestricted and free access to full-text scholarly materials via the Internet. During this two-day workshop, the focus was on presentations by external editors sharing their experiences in: challenges and problems facing journal editors today; issues to consider in becoming an Open Access journal ; estimating the resource requirements for operating the journal and developing a business plan; and developing a business model for a journal. The second day included an introduction and overview of Open Journal Systems (OJS) and a demonstration of the OJS and its features; adopting and switching over to OJS: key decisions, troubleshooting, and implementations of different publishing solutions.

 

 

(Modified on December 2013)

Back to top