In Uganda, there has been a positive and steady though slow response towards Open Access among the different stakeholders. Librarians, academia and researchers are instrumental in leading the Open Access movement through participation in Open Access journal publishing initiatives and supporting Open Access repositories. Makerere University Library became the first library in Uganda to set up an institutional repository called Uganda Scholarly Digital Library (USDL). Launched as a science repository but later changed to cover other disciplines, USDL has a total of 1,600 full text articles, reports, posters, and other scholarly materials.

There are currently four Open Access journals indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Researchers from Nigeria publish articles in international Open Access journals, for example 410 articles have been published with BioMed Central – an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the Open Access publishing model. 349 articles have been published in Public Library of Science (PLoS) Open Access journals.

Enabling Environment:

Through Open Access organizations and groups like Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (David Bukenya, dbukenya(at), EIFL-OA (Fredrick Kiwuwa Lugya, flugya(at) and support from partners like INASP, EIFL, Sida Sarec, and Carnegie Corporation of New York, academic and research libraries in Uganda have started to show interest in having their own institutional repositories. However, implementation has been limited by lack of policy at institution level and poor ICT infrastructure. The Open Access initiative has been further strengthened through partnerships such as the Irish African Partnership for Research Capacity Building and the Database of African Theses and Dissertations (DATAD). Through its Open Access repository, the Irish African Partnership for Research Capacity Building (IAP) brings together universities of Ireland, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda in a unique, high-level partnership to develop a coordinated approach to research capacity building in order to make an effective contribution to the reduction of poverty. With the support of the Association of African Universities (AAU) DATAD aims at improving the management and access to African scholarly work (theses and dissertations) thus putting Africa’s research output onto the mainstream of world knowledge.

Potential Barriers:

The potential barrier to Open Access movement in Uganda has been attributed to lack of Open Access policies and awareness among the stakeholders. Others include: poor ICT infrastructure, lack of policy to recognize Open Access publications in promotion and tenure evaluation, lack of skilled staff to manage Open Access projects and to maintain the standards of quality assurance and good scientific practice. There is a scepticism of the researchers towards Open Access who therefore fail to make their materials available in Open Access (through self-archiving in Open Access repositories or publishing in Open Access journals).

Major Projects/Initiatives:

There are currently four Open Access (OA) journals indexed in DOAJ:

  • African Health Sciences - an internationally refereed journal publishing articles on research, clinical practice, public health policy, planning, implementation and evaluation, in the health and related sciences relevant to Africa and the tropics. The journals is abstracted by MEDLINE, Index.Medicus and PUBMED.
  • East and Central African Journal of Surgery published by the Association of Surgeons of East Africa and College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa.
  • Health Policy and Development's mission is to widen access to relevant, scientifically rigorous and practically oriented information on public health policy, politics, planning and management, by publishing original articles and contributions from within and from outside Uganda that will stimulate debate, sharpen critical thinking and analysis and contribute to greater effectiveness of health policy making and management.
  • Pan African Medical Journal (PAMJ) is currently tracked by AIM, AJOL, EBSCO, Scopus, Embase, IC, HINARI, CABI, PubMed Central, PubMed/Medline, Ulrichsweb. In 2011 PAMJ announced the results of the 1st Authors Survey: the main drivers for submission include no author charges, PubMed indexation, and quality of published articles; authors are enthusiastic about online submission system, article review and processing, communication with the editorial office and speed of PDF publication. PAMJ achieved a lot in three years: more than 1200 manuscripts received from more than 132 countries, more than 200 articles published in 2 years and more than 4000 visitors from more than 100 countries per month, and is gaining status as an attractive venue for medical and public health publications on the continent.
  • Bioline International – an aggregator that provides a free platform for journals (maanaged by the Reference Center on Environmental Information, Brazil, and Bioline International at the University of Toronto at Scarborough, Department of Social Sciences) – hosts four OA journals: African Health Sciences, East and Central African Journal of Surgery and Health Policy and Development (listed above) and African Crop Science Journal.
  • The African Crop Science Journal was established with the primary objective of providing a forum for presentation and review of research results on tropical crop science that can be readily accessed by researchers and development leaders in Africa and other developing countries, and all those concerned with agricultural development issues in the region. Watch video, conducted by Leslie Chan (Bioline International) in which Dr. Paul Nampala explains the benefits of Open Access for African Crop Science Journal and discusses the challenges and opportunities of scholarly publishing in Africa.
  • Makerere University Library became the 1st library in Uganda to set up an institutional repository Uganda Scholarly Digital Library.

National and Institutional Level Policies/Mandates:

Aiming at enabling the Open Access environment, Makerere University is in the process of signing the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. Over 300 leading international research, scientific, and cultural institutions from around the world have signed the declaration. 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.”

Makerere University is also in the process of joining BioMed Central Foundation Membership to support Open Access in scholarly publishing, and help ensure the most widespread dissemination of the research published by faculty.

In October 24-28, 2011, academic libraries will join the rest of the world to celebrate International Open Access Week. Advocacy activities involving students, librarians, university staff and community, policy makers and opinion leaders are planned. Details of the activities will posted on the library web page.

However, there is a need for the Uganda government to initiate Open Access policies at national level as well as providing support.

Details of Key Organizations:

African Health Sciences, Makerere University Medical School, Editor: James K. Tumwine, Associate Editor: Michael Kawooya, University Medical School, P. O. Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda, Tel.: 256(41)530021, Fax: 256(41)530022, pic(at)

Makerere University Medical School, Ag. Head Ms. Rachel Nakalembe, Tel: +256 (0)414-534149, acooklib(at), acooklib(at)

Makerere University College of Health Sciences, College Principle, Prof. Sewankambo Nelson, P.O. Box 7062, Kampala Uganda, Tel: 256-414-530020; (Gen) +256-414-532631/4, Fax: +256-414-541068, New Mulago Hospital Complex, sewankam(at)

East and Central African Journal of Surgery, Editor in Chief: I. Kakande, P.O. Box 7051, Kampala, Uganda, Fax: 532591, editor_ecajs(at), igkakande(at)

Association of Surgeons of East Africa and College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa, Mr C A Samkange Vice President, College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA_ASEA) Director, Institute of Continuing Health Education, University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences.

The Health Policy and Development Journal, Dr. Maurizio Murru, Visiting Senior Lecturer, Department of Health Sciences, Uganda Martyrs University, P.O. Box 5498, Kampala – Uganda, East Africa, Tel.: (+256) 038 410611 or (+256) 0481 21895/6, Fax : (+256) 038 410100, umu(at)

Uganda Martyrs University, Ms. Nannozi Judith, Tel.: +256(0)782844157, jnannozi(at), jssempebwa(at)

Pan African Medical Journal, African Field Epidemiology Network, Raoul Kamadjeu, Managing editor of the Pan African Medical Journal, Tel.: +250 417 700650, editor(at)

African Crop Science Journal, Editor-in-Chief: J. S. Tenywa, Associate Editor: M.A. Bekunda, Scientific Editor: M.P. Nampala, Department of Crop Science, Makerere University, P. O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda, Tel.: 256 414 540464 or 256 772 487404 or 256 772 468919, acss(at), acsj(at)

Past and Future OA Related Activities:

Africa Portal is an online Open Access library collection of over 3,000 books, journals, and digital documents on African policy issues. This is an initiative by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Makerere University (MAK), and the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA).

In 2009 the National Book Trust of Uganda (NABOTU) – a non-profit making umbrella organization founded in 1997 to promote a reading culture in Uganda, made up of member associations and institutions of authors, publishers, booksellers, printers, librarians, literature teachers, and all those committed to the promotion of a reading culture – announced the results of commercial publishers experiment with Open Access. NABUTU explored ways through which content providers such as commercial publishers could make available online some of their content under a flexible license such as Creative Commons and looked at what business models would guarantee income streams for the publishers to grow a body of freely accessible content. NABOTU set up a publishing experiment at the beginning of 2009 attracting a commercial publisher and an NGO. The two have now published some of their books on the Internet, available for free downloading, sharing and reading. Fountain Publishers Ltd has three titles under a Creative Commons license including: Genocide by Denial, Handbook on Decentralization in Uganda and Funding and Implementing Universal Access. FEMRITE has two fiction titles including: The Invisible Weevil and Farming Ashes. Early reports from the two organizations show that the books have been well received in Uganda and abroad. The books have been downloaded many times in different countries including Uganda. The companies are optimistic about the potential of the Internet for business expansion. NABOTU is currently tracking the impact of the free downloads on sales figures for each of the titles to ascertain the viability of a free access business model. NABOTU is optimistic that a free business model making accessible learning materials required by students is perhaps the best way for boosting educational quality.

Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU) provides low bandwidth and plans to have single IP address for universities and research organizations, linking the national ICT backbone to the Sea Optical Fiber Cable by the Ministry of ICT.


(Modified on December 2013)

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