While African research universities often have better commercial journal database access than their counterparts in the West, what of public access to African-focused research? Great to hear an African voice on this, as Africa starts to buckle up for growth and international access. Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr. of Nigeria says that there is an…

“overwhelming call for the accessibility of African research [about Africa, but that this] has stretched traditional archiving methods.”

With a substantial increase in population and wealth now happening on the continent, he asks if there is now an opportunity…

“for archiving and digitising African-focused research [in order to] make African research accessible on a global scale.”

Let’s hope so. Although the author also suggests a commercial option, seemingly more in terms of access to contemporary and commercial data…

“monetising the whole process through a subscription model for online hosting of knowledge resources – books, research papers, journals, dissertations, and reports to investors, product and policy developers. [With African researchers getting] “a revenue share for each download”.

That might work for useful locally-created data — one might get the article or substantial data summary for free, anywhere in the world. But if you’re outside Africa then you’d buy the data download direct from the researcher, and in affluent nations your university would require you do that as part of your ethics code as a researcher. Though I’m not sure a commercial pay-per-download model would be useful for things like folklore, the arts, oral history and natural history, which might be better funded by a big pan-African consortium of nations, philanthropists and donors. And thus kept freely available.

Advertisements