In spite of the wide variety of research endeavors and production of information and knowledge in the country, the Ethiopian research and academic community predominantly has been at the receiving end of research-based information for quite some time. This was due to lack of proper infrastructure and means of communicating such research results generated locally. Consequently, Open Access is a relatively recent movement in Ethiopia. However, the proliferation of professional journals and ICT infrastructure in the country has given a kick start to the research and academic communities' ability to access information and knowledge freely or at a lower cost. The support to such local movement by many global efforts such as INASP through the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERII) further increased the local capacities.
Researchers from Ethiopia publish articles in international Open Access journals, for example 189 articles have been published with BioMed Central – an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the Open Access publishing model – and among them are highly accessed (most viewed) articles published by researchers from Adama Hospital, Addis Ababa University, Addis Continental Institute of Public Health, Amhara Regional Health Bureau, Arba Minch Hospital, Armauer Hansen Research Institute, Bahir Dar University, The Carter Center, Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute, Debub University, Ethiopian Public Health Association, Federal Ministry of Health, Fayya Development Association, Jimma University, FAO, Haramaya University, Hawassa University, ICAP International Ethiopia, Malaria Consortium Ethiopia, Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa, Malaria Control Program, Mekelle University, Ministry of Defense, Oromia Regional Health Bureau, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Regional Health Bureau (Awassa), Tigray Regional Health Bureau, University of Gondar, WHO and Wollega University.
The Ethiopian Government has embarked upon an ambitious effort to expand higher learning institutions throughout the country. Following the recently established, about 31, academic and research institutions, the number of research-based postgraduate programmes has also increased. This in turn means an increase in local research output and knowledge production as well as demand for a low cost or free access information and knowledge. In an effort to develop institutional repositories and enable wide access to their research collections, quite a number of institutions are already embarked on digitization of their unique paper copy of research outputs. In addition, the ICT infrastructure and expertise of these institutions have been improving to support the envisaged increased access to local and indigenous research results.
The following are some of the challenges to implement various Open Access and related projects:
- low internet bandwidth which affects remote input to the collection as well as public access from local workstations;
- finance to acquire heavy duty scanners for creating digital copies of the print collection and strong capacity servers for storage and accessibility;
- lack of clear institutional and national policy on Open Access (open scholarship).
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The introduction of a new national open access policy requiring public higher education institutions in Ethiopia to ensure that publicly-funded research is deposited in a national repository and that all research complies with international data standards has been welcomed by the sector. The new policy introduced by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Ethiopia last month mandates free access to all published articles, theses, dissertations and data resulting from publicly-funded research, leading to transformation of research and education. In a blog for Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), a librarian based at Addis Ababa University, Dr Solomon Mekonnen Tekle, said the new policy encourages open science practices by including ‘openness’ as one of the criteria for assessment and evaluation of research proposals on 31st October, 2019.
The new national open access policy adopted by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Ethiopia (MOSHE) will transform research and education in our country. The policy came into effect immediately. It mandates open access to all published articles, theses, dissertations and data resulting from publicly-funded research conducted by staff and students at universities that are run by the Ministry - that is over 47 universities located across Ethiopia.
- Addis Ababa University (AAU), P.O.Box 1176, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tel.: +251-11-1231071: faculties and institutes of the AAU work together to implement a Digital Projects Excellence Centre which deals with digitization, metadata, preservation and accessibility of unique resources. Some of the current and planned projects include: digitization of thesis and dissertations, Ethiopian Journals Online, digitization of ancient manuscripts and digitization of museum collections.
- Mekelle University, Mekelle, Tel.: +251344404005, ccm(at)mu.edu. Some of the current and planned projects include: digitization of thesis and dissertations; preservation of Geez’ manuscripts through digital library technology.
- African Union (AU) Commission, Addis Ababa, MolefeC(at)africa-union.org. Some of the current and planned projects include: digitization of the AU records and documents.
- The following two universities are also planning projects on digitization and Open Access repositories: Adama University, Adama, bizu_tege(at)yahoo.com, and Jimma University, Addis Ababa, MolefeC(at)africa-union.org.
- The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, Yemane Berhane, Editor-in-Chief, Tikur Anbessa Hospital, P.O. Box 32812, Addis Ababa, Tel.: :+251 1 513628, Fax: +251 1 517701, editorejhd(at)yahoo.com. Key success factors include: increased submission and rejection rate that significantly improved quality and readability of the journal, increased visibility (due to Open Access) that helped the journal to become the main source of scholarly public health information.
- Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Ethiopia, Prof. B.S. Chandravanshi, Editor-in-Chief, Chemical Society of Ethiopia, P.O.Box 32934, Addis Ababa, Tel.: 251-011-1234293/94, Fax: 251-011-1234296, bcse(at)chem.aau.edu.et, cse(at)chem.aau.edu.et, csechem(at)yahoo.com.
- Ethiopian Journal of Education and Sciences, Professor Kassahun Melesse, Jimma University, Faculty of Education, P.O.B. 378 Jimma, Tel.: +251 471 12 81 45, Fax: +251 471 11 22 14, kassahunml(at)yahoo.com
- The Ethiopian Journal of Environmental Studies and Management, Dr O.A. Ajala, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Bahir Dar University, Bahir, Tel.: +251-911572166, ejesmbd(at)yahoo.com.
- Momona Ethiopian Journal of Science, Dr. Tadesse Dejenie, Editor-in-Chief, Mekelle University, College of Natural and Computational Sciences, P.O. Box. 3037, Mekelle, Tel.: +2510344407500, Fax: +25134409304, taddej2002(at)gmail.com.
- Journal of Business and Administrative Studies, Dr. Mulugeta Abebe, Editor-in-Chief, Addis Ababa University, St. Mary's University College, P. O. Box 1211 or 18490, Addis Ababa, Tel.: +251-1-911-630455, Fax: +251-1-115-538000, mulugirumw(at)yahoo.com.
- Mizan Law Review, Elias Nour, St. Mary’s University College, Faculty of Law, P.O.Box 18490, Addis Ababa, Tel.: 251-911-184056, Fax: 251 115 538000, elstebek(at)gmail.com.
- The Ethiopian Veterinary Journal, Prof Getachew Abebe, Editor-in-Chief, Food and Agriculture Organization, P. O. Box 5536, Addis Ababa, Tel.: 251 (0) 0911 407260, Fax: 251 (0)1 5515266, Getachew.Abebe(at)fao.org.
Events and Programs
27 November, 2014: EIFL together with AAUL, the Vice President Office for Research and Technology Transfer of AAU and CEARL co-hosted an OA policy workshop to advocate the need for institutional OA policy and encourage University officials to articulate one for Addis Ababa University.
20 March, 2014: Launch of Ethiopian Journals Online; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
31 August, 2010: "The need to change the status quo: towards an open access scholarly communication model for Ethiopia" by Getaneh Agegn Alemu posted on Blog www.openaccessweek.org
The first UNESCO sponsored Electronic Thesis and Dissertations workshop took place in Addis Ababa University in 2004.
On December 22, 2008, Addis Ababa University Libraries and EIFL organised a workshop Open Access (OA): How to improve accessibility, visibility and impact of your research outputs for librarians and researchers from Addis Ababa and neighbouring towns.
Felix N. Ubogu, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, in his presentation at the 1st International Conference on African Digital Libraries and Archives, 1–3 July 2009, UNCC, Addis Ababa, provided a few key recommendations from the Association of African Universities Advocacy for Institutional Repositories (IR) seminar:
- There must be strong documented institutional policies to support the establishment and maintenance of the OA IRs.
- Stakeholders (Heads of Institutions and administrators, relevant committees, faculty and researchers, library personnel, IT Department and personnel, students) must be sensitized to the importance of OA IRs.
- Libraries and academia should work together to ensure well populated IRs with high quality content.
- Government through institutions should make available funding for infrastructure and facilities and to build the capacity of personnel to establish and run IRs successfully.
- To ensure a community of users to support each other, a common IR software should be considered for members of a consortium.
- Institutions should have a Copyright Policy and provide a toolkit/guidelines for authors concerning archiving of their papers in IRs.
And the recent workshop as a pre-event of the Second Session of the Committee on Development Information (CODIST II) said OA technologies could benefit Africa. The workshop “Promoting Innovation Development and Diffusion in Africa through OA Publishing” was held in May 2011 at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa and attended by more than 50 participants, including librarians from the UN, the African Union and Universities across Africa, as well as knowledge management experts and scientific officers. Delegates examined ways to improve knowledge sharing in Africa and to remove existing barriers. Participants recommended that Member States should adopt appropriate OA policies and that the ECA should take the leadership in these activities. “OA is a new way of publishing and of sharing information in the 21st century”, said Irene Onyancha, ECA’s Chief Librarian. “Everyone has a role to play in knowledge development and content sharing and everyone can make an impact”, she added (from BizTechAfrica news).
30 April, 2015: EIFL announced a new eight-month project that will support Ethiopian universities in developing open access policies and launching open research data services.
The "Sharing best practices of Addis Ababa University (AAU) on open access to other institutions in the country, sustaining current OA projects and a workshop on open research data" project aims to increase the visibility and the impact of Ethiopian research outputs. The project is to be implemented by AAU Libraries and will include the adoption of an AAU OA policy and the promotion of AAU OA publishing platform "Ethiopian Journals online (EJOL)", with the main goal that more journals will join EJOL in the coming years.
June 2013- August 2014: "Open Access in Ethiopia" project was supported by EIFL and run by AAUL in partnership with CEARL. Key achievements:
- Open access publishing platform EJOL has been set up and launched to publish open access journals using OJS.
- An OA policy draft has been developed that includes open access publishing provisions.
- Over 150 journal editors and publishers, researchers and students, research administrators and policy makers attended the project events on open access publishing.
A workshop on open research data for AAU and selected members of the Consortium of Ethiopian Academic and Research Libraries (CEARL) will also be conducted to train researchers, research administrators and librarians on the importance of making research data openly available, discussing open research data policies in universities and best practices in data sharing.
Professional journals which are published by local societies and research institutions have already given themselves up to be part of the initiative launched by INASP called African Journals Online (AJOL). Currently there are 18 journals from Ethiopia hosted at the AJOL platform and eight of them are Open Access journals: The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Ethiopia, The Ethiopian Journal of Education and Sciences, The Ethiopian Journal of Environmental Studies and Management, Momona Ethiopian Journal of Science, Journal of Business and Administrative Studies, Mizan Law Review and The Ethiopian Veterinary Journal. There is an on-going discussion within the Addis Ababa University to launch Ethiopian Journals Online.
As a pioneer institution in opening access to various information resources and knowledge in the nation, the Addis Ababa University Libraries has been advocating institutional repository and Open Access throughout the country since 2004. As part of this effort, the library has made available over 2,500 thesis and dissertations submitted to the university for everyone on the web.
The Library also created a collection of out of copyright electronic books in the area of engineering and technology which will soon be available for public use.
The University Library has also been involved in capacity and infrastructure building projects related to digital library development across the country. In this regard, experts from the library have developed the Amharic interface for creating digital library collection in Amharic using Greenstone digital library software. There are also other initiatives to translate this digital library management software to other local languages such as Tigrigna and Oromigna.
The Economic Commission for Africa launched an Open Access institutional repository in May 2010 as a milestone in the access and diffusion of unique and authentic economic and social information on Africa to ensure a systematic collection, management, preservation and dissemination of its intellectual outputs.
In June, Ethiopia adopted a national open access policy for higher education institutions. EIFL guest blogger, Dr Solomon Mekonnen Tekle, librarian at Addis Ababa University Library, and EIFL Open Access Coordinator in Ethiopia, celebrates the adoption of the policy.
- Callaby, R., C. Pendarovski, A. Jennings, S. T. Mwangi, I. Van Wyk, M. Mbole-Kariuki, H. Kiara, P. G. Toye, S. Kemp, O. Hanotte, J. A. W. Coetzer, I. G. Handel, M. E. J. Woolhouse, and B. M. de Clare Bronsvoort. 2020. “IDEAL, the Infectious Diseases of East African Livestock Project Open Access Database and Biobank.” Scientific Data 7(1). doi: 10.1038/s41597-020-0559-7.
- Duan, Z., Y. Tuo, J. Liu, H. Gao, X. Song, Z. Zhang, L. Yang, and D. F. Mekonnen. 2019. “Hydrological Evaluation of Open-Access Precipitation and Air Temperature Datasets Using SWAT in a Poorly Gauged Basin in Ethiopia.” Journal of Hydrology 569:612–26. doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.12.026.
- Gaffney, J., R. Tibebu, R. Bart, G. Beyene, D. Girma, N. A. Kane, E. S. Mace, T. Mockler, T. E. Nickson, N. Taylor, and G. Zastrow-Hayes. 2020. “Open Access to Genetic Sequence Data Maximizes Value to Scientists, Farmers, and Society.” Global Food Security 26. doi: 10.1016/j.gfs.2020.100411.
- Gemechu, M. G., T. A. Huluka, F. van Steenbergen, Y. C. Wakjira, S. Chevalking, and S. W. Bastiaanssen. 2020. “Analysis of Spatio -Temporal Variability of Water Productivity in Ethiopian Sugar Estates: Using Open Access Remote Sensing Source.” Annals of GIS 26(4):395–405. doi: 10.1080/19475683.2020.1812716.
- Lancker, K., A. L. Deppenmeier, T. Demissie, and J. O. Schmidt. 2019. “Climate Change Adaptation and the Role of Fuel Subsidies: An Empirical Bio-Economic Modeling Study for an Artisanal Open-Access Fishery.” PLoS ONE 14(8). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220433.
- Mammo, Y., and P. Ngulube. 2015. “Academics’ Use and Attitude towards Open Access in Selected Higher Learning Institutions of Ethiopia.” Information Development 31(1):13–26. doi: 10.1177/0266666913500977.
- Teklewold, H., A. Mekonnen, T. Gebrehiwot, and M. Bezabih. 2020. “Open Access Post-Harvest Grazing and Farmers’ Preferences for Forage Production Incentives in Ethiopia.” Land Use Policy 96. doi: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.104685.
- Trimarsanto, H., E. D. Benavente, R. Noviyanti, R. A. S. Utami, L. Trianty, Z. Pava, S. Getachew, J. Y. Kim, Y. K. Goo, S. Wangchuck, Y. Liu, Q. Gao, S. Dowd, Q. Cheng, T. G. Clark, R. N. Price, and S. Auburn. 2017. “VivaxGEN: An Open Access Platform for Comparative Analysis of Short Tandem Repeat Genotyping Data in Plasmodium Vivax Populations.” PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 11(3). doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005465.
- Upashe, S. P., T. Tekelab, and J. Mekonnen. 2015. “Open Access Assessment of Knowledge and Practice of Menstrual Hygiene among High School Girls in Western Ethiopia.” BMC Women’s Health 15(1). doi: 10.1186/s12905-015-0245-7.