Dr Doreen Nchang: "Redesigning Open Access and research communication in Francophone Africa: academic librarians, the game changers"

Event date: 
Thursday 24 February
Dr Doreen Nchang

An IASH Work-in-Progress seminar, delivered by Dr Doreen Nchang (British Council-IASH Fellow for ‘Decolonising Digital’ 2021-22; University of Cape Town):

Redesigning Open Access and research communication in Francophone Africa: academic librarians, the game changers

There has never been such a heightened dependency on technology for such a wide range of activities at such a global scale. Debates about scholarly open access (OA) are reaching fever pitch in the context of digitization, decolonization, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2021 kickoff of Europe’s OA initiative known as Plan S (Meagher, 2021). How can the future of knowledge production and dissemination be collectively re-imagined? Climbing the academic ladder is dependent on a number of things including publication, mentorship and networking. Such opportunities for African scholars in general and female scholars in particularly are lagging behind and slowing down scholarly progress. The OA movement has called attention to ways in which financial barriers to participation in scholarly discourse inhibit the growth of knowledge and perpetuate global inequities (MoChridhe, 2019). There is need to explore a more concerted and reflective efforts at destabilising and destroying structural systems of oppression that reproduce hierarchies of racialized, gendered and classed power (Langa & Kiguwa (2016) in higher education in general and OA scholarly communication in particular.

Francophone sub-Saharan Africa has a declining scholarly publication rate when compared to other countries, both developed and developing. Despite the promising potential of OA to improve scholarly communication, this mode of publishing is not yet wide spread in developing countries when compared to developed countries (Moller 2006; Papin-Ramchan and Dawe 2006; Wang and Su 2006).

What will it take for primary research on decolonizing knowledge production and dissemination (OA) to take place in Africa by African academics? Do we need new theories or integration of new and existing theories? What do academic researchers and librarians know and what are they saying about Open access and institutional repositories? What is hindering the adoption and use of open access in Francophone Africa and what strategies can be used to strengthen OA initiative, its adoption and the possibilities to decolonize the digital landscape in sub-Saharan French Africa.

The British Council engagement in Africa is already known and being felt by the different countries and communities across Africa. But what about its mutually- beneficial relationships in these countries? All these need to be addressed for the maximum exploitation of open access opportunities to improve scholarly communication in Francophone Africa.


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