In recent months, a number of events in Africa have focussed on open access and access to the internet in the developing world. It is exciting to see this clear commitment to creating an infrastructure for access to the internet throughout Africa, and to open access.
Eve Gray writes on her blog, Gray Area, about a one-day workshop for delegates from the African Academies of Science on ‘Promoting Access to and use of Digital Knowledge Resources in Countries with Developing and Transitional Economies: The Role of Science Academies in Africa’. Held in Pretoria, South Africa in May 2007, the workshop was organised by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the US National Academy of Science (NAS). Gray writes “In discussion, there was consensus that, in the African context, what was needed was the creation of a stable of high-quality open access journals and other publications with a regional and national focus, to raise the profile of African scholarship. In South Africa, government funding should be available to support such an initiative and this was likely to be needed in other countries…. The workshop ended with proposals for a vigorous programme for the promotion of ICT connectivity in Africa and for a forward-looking, active and open approach to the development of African research publication.”
Gray also notes that details of the Frontiers of Knowledge Forum hosted by the University of Cape Town last November are now available online. The inaugural meeting of the African University Leaders, the Frontiers of Knowledge event brought together Vice-Chancellors of fifteen African Universities to discuss the role of higher education in promoting economic growth in Africa. Gray writes “The Forum took an aggressive line on the need for connectivity and broadband access in African universities as a basic requirement for national advancement – rather than a luxury. There was general agreement on the need to grow the level of African research output and to disseminate it better. In the in the final recommendations, the recommendation for the management of African knowledge contains an implicit endorsement of open access:
African higher education institutions can play a leadership role in developing new institutions and business models for knowledge dissemination at the African and global levels. Some of the existing North American and European institutions can act as barriers to realizing the potential of African knowledge, and are under severe pressure themselves from the advance of open source and open access approaches.”
The July/August issue of the eIFL.net Newsletter reports that an Open Access and Institutional repository workshop was held on the 12-13 June 2007 at the University of Ghana, Accra. The workshop was presented by the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH), under the leadership of Helena Asamoah-Hassan, eIFL country coordinator. For more on open access developments, read the current issue.