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A Consultative Forum on Open Access for Africa is taking place in Nairobi

UNESCO joined hands with Network of African Science Academies (NASAC), The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Kenya National Academy of Sciences, African Academy of Sciences, and Kenyan Ministry of Education, Sciences to organize a Consultative Forum on Open Access (OA): Towards high level interventions for research and development in Africa. The two-day consultation, which is taking place on 29 and 30 January 2015, brought some 45 high-level policy makers and experts representing 20 countries of Africa.

Speaking at the conference, Dr Indrajit Banerjee, Director of Knowledge Societies Division of UNESCO, highlighted OA and its context within the broader significance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as  the Knowledge Societies framework and highlighted the roles that OA can play to foster four pillars of the knowledge societies.

The representative of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Kenya, expressed the fundamental relevance of OA for Kenya in facilitating the knowledge flow between and among all relevant stakeholders. The representative of the Kenyan National Science Foundation stated the significance of OA to foster the core values of the Constitution of Kenya. Reiterating their commitments to OA, other delegates urged the need of redefining the context of advocacy, networking and capacity development for OA in the continent.

The consultation is being organized:

  • to initiate a dialogue between scientists and policy-makers among stakeholders that will lead to the drafting of the NASAC Project Proposal on an Open Access Initiative for Africa;
  • to support the development of science-based advice on Open Access for Africa by the NASAC, with special input by UNESCO and KNAW - the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences;
  • to establish relationships with organizations keen on Open Access and provide evidence to African policy-makers and other stakeholders in Africa working in the area of Open Access;
  • to bring together researchers, academics, scholars, publishers and librarians responsible for the publishing of research to exchange and share their experiences and research results with regards to Open Access;
  • to discuss the new models of scholarly communication based on open access, and the practical challenges encountered and the solutions that should be adopted;
  • to understand/share the experiences, investment and commitment of countries where successful OA has been implemented;
  • to focus beyond building the project and developing recommendations to policymakers — with an ultimate target audience of the African Union (AU).
  • UNESCO promotes Open Access (OA), with particular emphasis on scientific information (journal articles, conference papers and datasets of various kinds) emanating from publicly funded research. Working with partners, UNESCO works to improve awareness about the benefits of OA among policy makers, researchers and knowledge managers. Through its global network of Field Offices, Institutes and Centers, UNESCO facilitates the development and adoption of OA-enabling policies. In addition, UNESCO engages in global OA debates and cooperates with local, regional and global initiatives in support of OA.

UNESCO’s OA programme pays particular attention to African and other developing countries where, notwithstanding important gains in ICT availability, OA prevalence, both in terms of output and usage, remains low.