Researchers call for more open access to knowledge

Researchers from across the continent and beyond have called for governments and universities to introduce policies to guarantee open access to scientific knowledge in Africa.

Delegates in Senegal’s capital Dakar, at the Fourth Conference on Electronic Publishing held by the pan-African Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa or CODESRIA, adopted the ‘Déclaration de Dakar’ demanding the lifting of constraints that hinder access to scientific information in Africa, reported AllAfrica.

According to Ebrima Sall, executive secretary of CODESRIA, the Dakar declaration set out the main economic challenges and technological obstacles that still made access difficult on the continent – including the high cost of subscriptions to scientific publications, which meant few African universities could have first-hand reference to those sources.

“The ideal is to ensure that the information we produce can be accessible to others. Above all, that relies on having an international movement with the people who formulate policy, to take measures that make it easier to access scientific information,” said Sall.

Senegal’s Culture and Communication Minister Mbagnick Ndiaye underlined the Dakar declaration’s emphasis on the state’s role but also the responsibility of those in research institutions, AllAfrica reported.

He said the meeting – attended by about 60 representatives of 16 countries from Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe – had provided an opportunity to specify the role and place that scientific information must occupy in countries’ development.

The researchers called on governments and universities to adopt policies that should translate their wishes into concrete actions.

Sall said the Dakar declaration would serve as a guide to action. “To start with, it brings together a number of principles we hope to share with other researchers. It also serves to raise awareness not only of the university community but also [among] decision-makers.”

CODESRIA and its partners would operate at the level of the African Union and universities in Africa and other countries in the global South, as it hoped for the support and participation of countries including those in Latin America and Asia.

* This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.