Open access and social justice driving African development

“The open access movement is being hailed in Africa as one of many solutions that can contribute to its development, as it opens access to scholarly literature which is critical for development. To fast track a positive development trajectory, Africa needs access to scholarly content to generate new knowledge, which provides solutions, at an exponential rate, to local challenges. Hence, there is growing reliance on freely accessible scholarly content, as well as free and open channels for the dissemination of scholarly information generated from the global south. Driving these free access and open dissemination channels is the social justice principle that researched and published solutions need to be equitably shared. As much as there is strong advocacy for free access, there has to be equal support for inclusive participation by global south researchers in knowledge creation and the free and equitable dissemination of this knowledge.

The open access movement must embrace the social justice elements embedded in the movement and robustly advance the liberation of marginalised voices. These “new voices [need] to find their way into disciplinary conversations, reach new audiences, both academic and public, and impact existing and emerging fields of scholarship and practice in a transformative way” (Roh 2016: 83). Open access services must become mainstream for academic and research institutions in Africa as open access is one of the most significant conduits for inclusive and free access to scholarship for the marginalised and has the mandate and potential to strongly promote unhindered participation in knowledge production.

This conference must challenge the open access movement and its advocates with their social justice principles to usher in equity and equal opportunity and to open the doors for full participation of new African voices in the scholarly communication landscape. There has to be a mind-set shift away from the assumption that the global south will remain ignorant and underdeveloped until it has access to the global north’s knowledge. The creation and dissemination of global south research will convert the one directional flow of information to a facilitated process of equitable knowledge exchange.”

Home – LIBSENSE – WACREN Spaces

“From November 2018 – April 2019, LIBSENSE conducted workshops in each of the three major regions in Africa bringing the library and NREN communities together to define a shared agenda for progressing open science and open access in these regions. Each workshop, which contributed to priority setting in each region, also built upon the outcomes of preceding discussions.

To date, there have already been several concrete outcomes of the LIBSENSE initiative, including:

Terms of Reference for NREN-Library collaboration in African countries
Metadata guidelines for repositories

Plans for a regional repository hosting service

National and institutional policy templates

LIBSENSE will continue to assist countries and regions in Africa to undertake new activities and act as a forum for information exchange across the continent and amongst the different stakeholder communities….”

Improving Zimbabwe’s capacities to effectively use open data on malnutrition

The need to provide better access to timely and accurate data for policy makers, farmers and the private sector to inform agriculture and nutrition interventions and activities, has been widely acknowledged as part of the solution to ending malnutrition.

It is with this in mind that the Zimbabwe Evidence Informed Policy Network, with support from the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), implemented a 2-day workshop on open data for nutrition and agriculture. Held on 11-12 March 2019 in Harare, Zimbabwe, the objective of the workshop was to develop the skills and knowledge of agriculture and nutrition stakeholders to understand what open data is, the value and benefits of open data, and the intellectual and copyright issues around it….”

Improving Zimbabwe’s capacities to effectively use open data on malnutrition

The need to provide better access to timely and accurate data for policy makers, farmers and the private sector to inform agriculture and nutrition interventions and activities, has been widely acknowledged as part of the solution to ending malnutrition.

It is with this in mind that the Zimbabwe Evidence Informed Policy Network, with support from the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), implemented a 2-day workshop on open data for nutrition and agriculture. Held on 11-12 March 2019 in Harare, Zimbabwe, the objective of the workshop was to develop the skills and knowledge of agriculture and nutrition stakeholders to understand what open data is, the value and benefits of open data, and the intellectual and copyright issues around it….”

Open Science in Research and Innovation for Development

“The Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa (SGCI) is a 5-year Initiative which aims to strengthen the capacities of Science Granting Councils (SGCs) in sub-Saharan Africa in order to support research and evidence-based policies that will contribute to economic and social development. The Initiative is jointly funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The SGCI theme on Networking Africa’s SGCs is being implemented by the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) in partnership with The Scinnovent Centre.

The SGCI convenes Annual Forums (AFs) that brings together the Initiative’s participating Science Granting Councils (SGCs) from 15 African countries1 and other key stakeholders around the world to deliberate and develop interventions in strategic areas of interest to the Councils and the wider science, technology and innovation (STI) community. To facilitate sharing of lessons and good practices, the SGCI commissions a state-of-the-art paper on topics/themes of interest for Africa’s development. The selected theme for the 2019 Annual Forum is tagged “Open Science in Research and Innovation for Development”. This document provides guidelines on the concept for a research paper to be commissioned on the topic ahead of the Annual Forum scheduled for 11-15 November 2019 in Tanzania….”

Understanding the Impact of OER: Achievements and Challenges – UNESCO IITE

The publication “Understanding the Impact of OER: Achievements and Challenges” is the result of partnership between the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE) and OER Africa, an initiative established by Saide.

It critically reviews the growth of open educational resources (OER) and its potential impact on education systems around the world; and points at some significant achievements as well as key challenges hindering the growth and potential of OER that need to be addressed.

The publication summarizes the conclusions of a series of country case studies conducted by experts from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Germany, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Slovenia, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom. It seeks to shed light on such important issues as the economic and pedagogical value of investing in OER; the role of OER in fostering diversity, inclusion, and in purposively pursuing quality improvement and innovation; and, finally, the extent to which these important issues are being researched.

The publication is addressed to decision-makers, educators and innovators, and is aimed to stimulate the debate about the impact of OER and encourage governments to engage with OER in ways that drive defined pedagogical improvements, while encouraging equity and diversity in global knowledge networks….”

“Open Access” and the Fate of Knowledge from Africa: A Theoretical Discussion on JSTOR

Abstract:  Open Access, is often understood as referring to the free circulation of research outputs from and to all parts of the planet. It is argued that this definition is deceptive because it ignores the fact that the imposition of the epistemological paradigm of the hegemonic culture on the indigenous people of Africa translates to the partial destruction of their epistemological paradigm. The thesis that this author defends is that Open Access ought to be preceded by the “open production of knowledge.” This is necessary so that the research that becomes freely available globally through Open Access genuinely reflects the diversity of its knowledges and producers

African Principles for Open Access in Scholarly Communication – AfricArXiv

“1) Academic Research and knowledge from and about Africa should be freely available to all who wish to access, use or reuse it while at the same time being protected from misuse and misappropriation.

2) African scientists and scientists working on African topics and/or territory will make their research achievements including underlying datasets available in a digital Open Access repository or journal and an explicit Open Access license is applied.

3) African research output should be made available in the principle common language of the global science community as well as in one or more local African languages – at least in summary.

4) It is important to take into consideration in the discussions indigenous and traditional knowledge in its various forms.

5) It is necessary to respect the diverse dynamics of knowledge generation and circulation by discipline and geographical area.

6) It is necessary to recognise, respect and acknowledge the regional diversity of African scientific journals, institutional repositories and academic systems.

7) African Open Access policies and initiatives promote Open Scholarship, Open Source and Open Standards for interoperability purposes.

8) Multi-stakeholder mechanisms for collaboration and cooperation should be established to ensure equal participation across the African continent.

9) Economic investment in Open Access is consistent with its benefit to societies on the African continent – therefore institutions and governments in Africa provide the enabling environment, infrastructure and capacity building required to support Open Access

10) African Open Access stakeholders and actors keep up close dialogues with representatives from all world regions, namely Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania….”

African Principles for Open Access in Scholarly Communication – AfricArXiv

“1) Academic Research and knowledge from and about Africa should be freely available to all who wish to access, use or reuse it while at the same time being protected from misuse and misappropriation.

2) African scientists and scientists working on African topics and/or territory will make their research achievements including underlying datasets available in a digital Open Access repository or journal and an explicit Open Access license is applied.

3) African research output should be made available in the principle common language of the global science community as well as in one or more local African languages – at least in summary.

4) It is important to take into consideration in the discussions indigenous and traditional knowledge in its various forms.

5) It is necessary to respect the diverse dynamics of knowledge generation and circulation by discipline and geographical area.

6) It is necessary to recognise, respect and acknowledge the regional diversity of African scientific journals, institutional repositories and academic systems.

7) African Open Access policies and initiatives promote Open Scholarship, Open Source and Open Standards for interoperability purposes.

8) Multi-stakeholder mechanisms for collaboration and cooperation should be established to ensure equal participation across the African continent.

9) Economic investment in Open Access is consistent with its benefit to societies on the African continent – therefore institutions and governments in Africa provide the enabling environment, infrastructure and capacity building required to support Open Access

10) African Open Access stakeholders and actors keep up close dialogues with representatives from all world regions, namely Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania….”

São Paulo Statement on Open Access | National Research Foundation

The representatives of African Open Science Platform, AmeLICA, cOAlition S, OA2020, and SciELO – five of the major worldwide Open Access initiatives – met on 01 May 2019 during the annual meeting of the Global Research Council (GRC) in Sao Paulo. They are united in their common mission of making knowledge available and accessible wherever it can have the greatest impact and help solve humanity’s challenges regardless of where it was produced.

The combined effect of the five initiatives has generated a new momentum in the push towards universal, full and immediate Open Access.

The Five Initiatives jointly state that:

  • They consider that scholarly and scientific knowledge is a global public good. When generated by public funds, free access to it is a universal right.
  • They share one common ultimate objective: providing universal, unrestricted, and immediate Open Access to scholarly information, including use and re-use by humans and machines.
  • They share the belief that this common goal can be achieved through a variety of approaches.
  • They will pursue points of alignment among their approaches and ways to co-operate towards reaching the shared objective.
  • They seek an active dialogue with all stakeholders, including researchers, research funders, universities, libraries, publishers, learned societies, governments, and citizens to take into account the diversity of the global scholarly community….”