Open access to knowledge will boost Africa’s development - University World News
"In December last year, The Economist published a special report titled “Africa rising”. The sub-heading of the story was very interesting. Reversing its decision a decade before to label Africa “the hopeless continent”, the magazine now called us “the hopeful continent”. But was that correct? Isn’t Africa still at the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index? Isn’t Africa’s research output still less than 1% of the global total? Yes, these things are true. But what is also true is that Africans are doing something about it... Since October 2010, when Stellenbosch University became the first African higher education institution to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, the number of signatories on the continent has grown to 28 – in just two years... Open access can help Africa to address its developmental challenges by moving the continent from the periphery of knowledge production to the centre... Also speaking at Berlin 10 Derek Hanekom, South Africa’s minister of science and technology, cited the example of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – 'one of the biggest science projects the world has ever seen, and Africa was selected to host it. Through the SKA, scientists from all over the world will collaborate in trying to unravel the mysteries of our universe. Information will need to be shared around the clock between Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas. Open access literature will be key to the success of this project,' he said. Clearly, times are changing, and along with it, the publishing landscape... Stellenbosch University has adopted hope as its guiding academic concept. This is captured in our Hope Project. We follow a science-for-society approach, using knowledge production, transfer and application to address major societal challenges... Our first step was to establish an open access repository. It is called SUNScholar, and it can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection ... Secondly, Stellenbosch University has established a comprehensive service for hosting and publishing open access academic journals online. It is called SUNJournals, and all titles on the platform are freely available to anyone via the internet. A total of 18 titles – most of which are accredited by South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training – have already joined... Thirdly, we have created an Open Access Fund to encourage the university’s researchers to publish in open access journals... Libraries the world over are increasingly adopting the role of publisher. According to a report by Purdue University Libraries in the US, libraries have over the past five years begun to expand their role in the scholarly publishing value chain by offering a greater range of pre-publication and editorial support services. We want Africa to be part of this global trend. That is why Stellenbosch’s Library and Information Service has developed two new open access platforms that will help us achieve this goal – the African Open Access Repository Initiative, and the African Open Access Journal Initiative..."