Namibia

The Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) lists two Open Access repositories in Namibia: DSpace at the University of Namibia Library and Ounongo Repository of the Polytechnic of Namibia.

Polytechnic of Namibia and University of Namibia Library have signed the Budapest Open Access Initiative – a major declaration in support of Open Access.

University of Namibia participates in 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. Jointly hosted by the Centre for Educational Technology and the Research Office at the University of Cape Town, the programme will use four African universities (University of Namibia, the University of Cape Town, University of Mauritius and the University of Botswana) as study sites and work in close collaboration with the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA).

Researchers from Namibia publish articles in international Open Access journals, for example 19 articles have been published with BioMed Central – an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the Open Access publishing model – by researchers from the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, Central Veterinary Laboratory, Ministry of Health and Social Services, University of Namibia and World Health Organization. 30 articles have been published in Public Library of Science (PLoS) Open Access journals: PLoS ONE, PLoS Biology, PLoS Genetics and PLoS Medicine, by researchers from Namibia Institute of Pathology; National Malaria Control Programme, Ministry of Health and Social Services, Old State Hospital Grounds; Ministry of Environment and Tourism; PharmAccess Foundation Namibia; The Rainbow Project; Rare and Endangered Species Trust; and University of Namibia.

Enabling Environment

A centre of excellence in information and communication technology is to be established at the University of Namibia and Telecom Namibia will fund the initiative.

Potential Barriers

The support systems including information communication technology infrastructure and administrative support systems are needed to improve scholarly publishing and dissemination in the country.

Major Projects/Initiatives

Ounongo Repository of the Polytechnic of Namibia has been registered in the ROAR in February 2010. “Ounongo” means "knowledge” in the Oshiwambo and Otjiherero languages. The Open Access institutional repository is administered by the library, with technical assistance from the bureau of computer services, and its aim is to collect, organize, manage, store, preserve, publish and make accessible worldwide the knowledge assets and intellectual output of the Polytechnic's researchers, staff and post-graduate students. The repository content includes research articles, conference papers, theses and gray literature. Users may set up RSS feeds to be alerted to new content.

DSpace at the University of Namibia Library has been registered in ROAR in May 2006. There were also the Digital Collections of the University Library containing articles, learning objects and multimedia and set up using Greenstone software.

University of Namibia participates in 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. Jointly hosted by the Centre for Educational Technology and the Research Office at the University of Cape Town, the programme will use four African universities (University of Namibia, the University of Cape Town, University of Mauritius and the University of Botswana) as study sites and work in close collaboration with the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA).

In approaching the issue of African scholarly publication and communications, the SCA programme operates from the assumption that there is an opportunity to increase the output and quality of academic journals and other forms of scholarly communication produced in Africa, particularly given the possibilities of greater scholarly interaction through new media and the internet affordances made possible through Web 2.0 technologies. Many African universities are currently exploring this terrain with regards to institutional repositories, online journal publishing, and digital archiving. This engagement on the part of institutions with the scholarly communication process is an important component of a larger process of institutional renewal with respect to fostering research output in universities.

The SCA programme is a response to the need to grow the profile and global competitiveness of African research output/communications and is primarily concerned with the dissemination out of universities (and hence the visibility of African research), rather than issues around building research capacity. It will combine action research in selected universities, designed to exploit existing investment in research repositories, with qualitative and quantitative research to address some of the inhibiting factors in an established research culture that prevent effective research dissemination.

Engaging with the potential offered by the use of information and communication technology (including technical publication platforms), new research and publication models, and new intellectual property and licensing systems, it is hoped that the results of this programme’s investigations will provide the groundwork for the development of a more relevant, Afrocentric approach to the funding, recognition and reward of scholarly publication in southern Africa.

(From the UCT Research Office)

The probability that the University of Namibia’s visibility of scholarly research would increase are high, following the introduction of the Scholarly Communication in Africa programme that was launched in June 2011. The action research programme will start with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences as a case study, after which lessons would be learnt and may be rolled out to the rest of the university in future. The programme is aimed at achieving several goals, the most important being to map the status of research dissemination at the above-mentioned universities including the University of Namibia. Other aims are to promote the use of open source platforms to improve access to research findings and improve research dissemination locally and internationally, to build capacity in managing sustainable scholarly communication systems, understand the costs and benefits resulting from Open Access approaches to scholarly communication and enhance interaction with policy makers at various levels, and thus promote solutions that could support the wider visibility of scholarly research.

Acting Vice-Chancellor of Unam, Professor Osmund Mwandemele, said at the programme’s official launch that the visibility of African research nationally and internationally through journal articles and research monographs is quite low and that much of the good work that is taking place at universities is not visible to the general public. “It is my contention that we now have the ICT tools as well as other communication strategies at our disposal which can be used to raise the level of visibility and utilisation of the research output at University of Namibia to address the challenge,” said Professor Mwandemele.

(From Unam research takes on new dimension - by Alvine Kapitako, New Era)

Details of Key Organizations

University of Namibia: Private Bag 13301, 340 Mandume Ndemufayo Ave, Pioneerspark Windhoek, Namibia

The Polytechnic of Namibia, Ounongo Repository: Oretu Kavari (ir(at)polytechnic(dot)edu(dot)na), Administrator; subjectlibrarian(at)polytechnic(dot)edu(dot)na, Telephone: +264-61-207-2326, 264-61-207-2205.

Past and Future OA Related Activities

The Namibia Open Learning Network Trust (NOLNet) organises the Second Open and Distance Learning Conference to be held at the Safari Hotel and Conference Centre, in Windhoek, on October 18-19, 2011. The theme of the conference is “Open educational resources and the opportunity to expand open and distance learning”. The conference is organized by NOLNet in collaboration with UNESCO, the Ministry of Education and the Namibian open and distance learning (ODL) institutions, namely: Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL), National Institute of Educational Development (NIED), Polytechnic of Namibia (PON) and University of Namibia (UNAM). For more information please contact Dr Haaveshe Nekongo-Nielsen.

 

(Modified on December 2013)

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