Friday, 24 August 2012

[Open Access] Spotlight on Nairobi

  Next week a couple of interesting Open Access-related events will take place in Nairobi - making the Open Access spotlight (partly) shift away from Europe, North America and the developed countries into Kenya. It's not the first time interesting Open Access-related events happen in Kenya - a very successful BioMed Central-organised 1st Open Access Africa (OAA) Conference took place in Nairobi in Nov 2010.

Prior to briefly describing these activities, it may be useful for introductory purposes to have a look at this interesting map featured above - courtesy of Benjamin Hennig and his Social and Spatial Inequalities Research Group at the University of Sheffield, UK, based upon data kindly supplied by SPARC. The map shows a ponderated image of the world countries according to the number of Open Access dissemination activities they organised during the Open Access Week event in 2010 (the picture actually remained very much the same for OAW2011). When we look at the current geographical distribution of Open Access repositories worlwide at the OpenDOAR directory, there is a massive bias towards the developed world. However, when we check which countries are doing better in terms of promoting Open Access and establishing their own repository networks, we see both India and Kenya at the top three. In physics terminology, in order to properly describe a situation, you should both account for the actual value and the gradient of such value, gradient meaning its rate of change. So even if values may presently not look too encouraging, they will eventually change as a result of persistent efforts to drive such change.

The abovementioned Open Access activities to be held next week at two Kenyan universities in Nairobi are two good examples for those drivers for change. Kenyatta University will be hosting an Open Access workshop for raising institutional awareness of its Open Access Repository Project. This will be achieved by running different sessions along the 1-week Open Access advocacy seminar for all involved stakeholders within the University: Library and ICT Staff, Researchers from various disciplines and the Kenyatta University Management Board. Also next week, the University of Nairobi will be holding a one day workshop for the University Management Board on Open Access and institutional repositories, paying especial attention to the policy strand. This event is part of the EIFL-funded Project “Knowledge without boundaries: Advocacy campaign in Kenya for OA and institutional repositories”.

Maybe a bit more attention could be paid to Open Access advances in developing countries (even if stakeholders such as BMC and OKFN are already doing it, as well as UNESCO, IFLA and of course EIFL), since it may best serve those countries where severe restrictions to research information apply. Internet connectivity conditions permitting -still a pending issue in most African contries despite recent improvement- there will be some further reporting next week from Nairobi.

No comments: