The growth of the African continental publishing platform
The open access (OA) movement has been growing across the world albeit not at the anticipated pace. As much as this philanthropic movement advances the open sharing of scholarship, the movement has evolved with a strong bias towards the global north. A typical example is the lauded transformative agreements. This transformative agreement strategy is developed through a global north lens which unfortunately entrenches the Global North-Global South knowledge divide: the publishing strategy unintendedly entrenches the marginalization of research voices from Africa and most of the global south.
Poynder (2019) asserts that since the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative, the OA movement has had unintended consequences that would include the marginalization of research voices from the Global South. He goes on to say that the Global South needs to develop its own alternative strategy. To open channels for the distribution of African scholarship, the University of Cape Town (UCT) has launched a new continental platform for publication of open access journals, monographs and textbooks. UCT draws from the view that the OA movement in Africa must have a transformative world view of OA which is driven by social justice imperatives and equity principles for inclusion resulting in growth and development of society: hence this publishing platform.
This alternative publishing stream is viewed as transformational in that it challenges the traditional Global North dominated publishing landscape. In so doing, the continental platform addresses the issue of the marginalization of African research voices and research and provides one of many solutions to the existing inequality in the publishing landscape. In the African context, library publishing addresses more than the financial barriers, it is a social justice driven service that supports the de-northernization of the publishing landscape, that is, making provision for the sharing of African scholarship; it addresses the issue of inclusivity and brings balance to knowledge dissemination.
The ultimate goal of the continental platform is to transform access and distribution of scholarship for the growth and development of Africa’s research agenda; and, to nurture and grow a culture of civil society accessing and manipulating scholarly content for economic and social emancipation. Further, the African research landscape needs to be transformed to address local research imperatives while contributing to bridging the ‘research-exchange divide’.
It is anticipated that the platform will bridge the prevailing skills shortage and poor information technology infrastructure in Africa resulting in the advancement in publication of journals and books. The University of Cape Town (UCT) Libraries, in collaboration with its central Information and Communication Technology Services, developed the platform using a tenant model. In conceptualising this model, each participating institution will retain its unique identity, that is, the look and feel will be prescribed by the institution.
The Association of African Universities, in collaboration with the UCT, will be hosting a webinar on 9 September 2021 from 1030am to 1230pm GMT.
To learn more about the platform, here is the link to the webinar https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYtc-yprzopGNydd_r9n1pnSevwjC3Eb6cX