Open access and social justice driving African development

“The open access movement is being hailed in Africa as one of many solutions that can contribute to its development, as it opens access to scholarly literature which is critical for development. To fast track a positive development trajectory, Africa needs access to scholarly content to generate new knowledge, which provides solutions, at an exponential rate, to local challenges. Hence, there is growing reliance on freely accessible scholarly content, as well as free and open channels for the dissemination of scholarly information generated from the global south. Driving these free access and open dissemination channels is the social justice principle that researched and published solutions need to be equitably shared. As much as there is strong advocacy for free access, there has to be equal support for inclusive participation by global south researchers in knowledge creation and the free and equitable dissemination of this knowledge.

The open access movement must embrace the social justice elements embedded in the movement and robustly advance the liberation of marginalised voices. These “new voices [need] to find their way into disciplinary conversations, reach new audiences, both academic and public, and impact existing and emerging fields of scholarship and practice in a transformative way” (Roh 2016: 83). Open access services must become mainstream for academic and research institutions in Africa as open access is one of the most significant conduits for inclusive and free access to scholarship for the marginalised and has the mandate and potential to strongly promote unhindered participation in knowledge production.

This conference must challenge the open access movement and its advocates with their social justice principles to usher in equity and equal opportunity and to open the doors for full participation of new African voices in the scholarly communication landscape. There has to be a mind-set shift away from the assumption that the global south will remain ignorant and underdeveloped until it has access to the global north’s knowledge. The creation and dissemination of global south research will convert the one directional flow of information to a facilitated process of equitable knowledge exchange.”

Source: Open access and social justice driving African development