Open Access Week

October 24 - 30, 2022 | Everywhere

DSpace in Africa: Growing Open Access to Knowledge and Culture

PART ONE: Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana This is the first of a five-part series that looks at Open Access repository development in twelve African countries in celebration of Open Access Week Oct. 24-30, 2011

With thanks to co-authors Iryna Kuchma, Open Access Programme manager, EIFL ( and EIFL-OA country coordinators: Netsanet Animut, Addis Ababa University and Chair of the Consortium of Ethiopian Academic and Research Libraries, Charles Banda, Copperbelt University, Zambia, Aissa Mitha Issak, Universidade Pedagógica, Mozambique, Gloria Kadyamatimba, Chinhoyi University of Technology Library, Zimbabwe, Richard B. Lamptey, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, Fredrick Kiwuwa Lugya, Makerere University Library, Uganda, Reason Baathuli Nfila, University of Botswana Library, Rosemary Otando, University Nairobi, Kenya, Kondwani Wella, Kamuzu College of Nursing, University of Malawi.
Ithaca, NY In Africa and in many countries around the world the need to manage, preserve and create open access to formerly “locked down” knowledge and culture has become apparent. Developing countries have recognized the need to utilize knowledge resources in order to leverage economic development, research and educational opportunities. One example is Kenya Open Data ( which creates greater government transparency by providing open access to original data.

“This site makes public government data accessible to the people of Kenya. High quality national census data, government expenditure, parliamentary proceedings and public service locations are just a taste of what's to come. There's something for everyone: maps to start exploring, interactive charts and tables for a deeper understanding, and raw data for technical users to build their own apps and analyses. Our information is a national asset, and it's time it was shared: this data is key to improving transparency; unlocking social and economic value; and building Government 2.0 in Kenya.”

DSpace has been a player in creating open access to information since it was launched in 2002. This open source, easy-to-use repository application has been instrumental in providing universities and institutions all over the world with a tool for getting resources online and making them accessible. In 2004 there were 9 DSpace instances in Africa. Due the work of DSpace Ambassadors and other community outreach efforts that number has increased to 46 today. For the next five days DuraSpace will offer a glimpse into what’s “in” some DSpace repositories in Africa on each day in celebration of Open Access Week 2011 (


Open Access to institutional research output

The University of Botswana Digital Repository Policy referred to as University of Botswana Research, Innovation and Scholarship Archive (UBRISA,
is in alignment with the research policies and the Research Strategy of the University of Botswana. UBRISA is used to capture, store, preserve and provide open access to institutional research output. It aims to “promote and encourage the dissemination of research findings and increase the visibility of the University of Botswana nationally and internationally in scholarship and knowledge creation, application and exchange” (Digital Repository Policy). The content of the repository covers various forms that include: peer reviewed published articles, pre-prints, monographs, electronic books, book chapters, vetted conference papers, theses and dissertations, other research outputs that are not necessarily meant for publication such as computer programs and artistic works. The policy encourages self archiving by university staff, students and their collaborating researchers.
An example of a peer reviewed published article submission regarding research into cultural trends and preferences can be found in the “Nollywood films and the cultural imperialism hypothesis” article by E. Akpabio and K.  Mustapha-Lambe. The term “Nollywood” refers to digital video productions of Nigeria. The authors reached the conclusion, “…it is apparent that these (American) and other foreign productions no longer have a captive market in Nigeria.”
Further, the University of Botswana has developed guidelines on implementation of e-theses to increase the visibility of its research essays, theses, dissertations for masters’ and PhD degree programs through UBRISA. The guidelines cover issues of intellectual property produced by a student during studies at UB, OA initiative, and roles and responsibilities for submission of the electronic theses/ dissertation, as well as instructions on submission.
The Office of Research and Development (ORD) has implemented a Research Management System (RMS) as a tool to electronically monitor research from proposal to submission of completed papers. The workflows enable easy monitoring of every stage of research including the Library being able to identify completed research for collecting and providing access through the digital repository.
University of Botswana Research, Innovation and Scholarship Archive (UBRISA) has been launched last year as a joint project of Office of Research and Development and University Library.
On August 11, 2011, UBRISA shared their experiences with policy environment, workflows, and ran a training session on using DSpace software for Botswana Library Consortium (BLC) members at the workshop on Open Access platforms/software and repositories at the University of Botswana. DSpace software has been chosen as a national repository solution and BLC FOSS team has been tasked with overseeing the creation of institutional repositories in BLC member country institutions using DSpace FOSS. (More details about the workshop are here:
The Open Access (OA) Sub-Committee of the BLC is organizing a series of events during OA Week from 24-30 October 2011:


Theses and dissertations on the web

Currently there are three Open Access DSpace repositories: Addis Ababa University (; International Livestock Research Institute (, and; the Economic Commission for Africa (
As a pioneer institution in opening access to various information resources and knowledge in the nation, the Addis Ababa University Libraries has been advocating for its institutional repository and Open Access throughout the country since 2004. As part of this effort, the library has made available over 2,500 theses and dissertations submitted to the university to everyone on the web.
Other resources such as a catalogue of livestock-for-development films are available from the International Livestock Research Institute. Featuring over 100 short videos and several documentaries, this collection gives farmers hands-on methods for effectively working with cattle diseases.
The University Library has also been involved in capacity-building projects related to digital library development across the country.
Adama University and Jimma University are also planning Open Access repositories.


Open Access to scholarship and research

The Association of African Universities (AAU), Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH), INASP and EIFL have been spearheading Open Access initiatives among the academic and researcher community in Ghana and Africa as a whole. AAU and CARLIGH have held the first Open Access workshop in 2009. In July 2011, AAU and CARLIGH held another Open Access Institutional Repository Advocacy workshop (with financial support from EIFL) as a follow up to the first one and to affirm the designation of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) institutional repository the national Open Access repository.
Every year, KNUST (Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science and Technology) and the only institution with a live Open Access institutional repository celebrates International Open Access Week during October. Some of the activities will be aired on major radio stations. Activities related to Open Access include: debates, workshops on Open Access Institutional Repository platforms, seminars and many others. During this time, academic and research community at the University and in Ghana gather to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access institutional repositories; share ideas with colleagues; and inspire wider participation in establishing Open Access institutional repositories as a norm in promoting scholarship and research. Currently the awareness of Open Access is growing due to the annual Open Access week activities.
CARLIGH has organized series of workshops Installation and troubleshooting of DSpace repositories in University of Cape Coast, University for Development Studies, University for Education Winneba, Pentecost University.

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