The momentum to embrace Open Access initiatives in Africa has been building up and many libraries have established institutional repositories. According to the World Repository Map, there are currently 3,045 Open Access repositories internationally. As indicated by institutional OA Policy registries such as ROARMAP and MELIBEA, six of these repositories are found in Kenya – at Strathmore University, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, International Livestock Research Institute, Rift Valley Institute (Sudan Open Archive), University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University.

As of June 2021, Directory of OA Journals (DOAJ) lists seven Open Access journals: African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Journal of Applied Biosciences, Pachyderm: Journal of the African Elephant, African Rhino and Asian Rhino Specialist Groups, KCA Journal of Business Management, World Applied Programming, Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya and Journal  of Language, Technology & Entrepreneurship in Africa. AJOL also hosts an East African Orthopaedic Journal, Kenya Orthopaedic Association.

Researchers from Kenya publish articles in international Open Access journals, for example, in 2013, over 500 articles have been published with BioMed Central – an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the Open Access publishing model. And 614 articles have been published in Public Library of Science (PLoS) Open Access journals. 

Watch an interview (conducted by Leslie Chan of Bioline International) with Prof. Mary Abukutsa-Onyango of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, discussing the challenges she faced when trying to publish her original research on African Indigenous Vegetables in "international" journals, the importance of Open Access journals in Africa in ensuring that important research relevant to the continent are being published, read, and applied, and the implications of Open Access for development in African countries.

The following are some of the benefits that Kenya will derive from embracing Open Access: preserving the intellectual output and memory of the country; increasing visibility of the country and the institutions; increasing profile of researchers, scholars and the academic community of the country; improving the rating of research institutions in Kenya Internationally; and promoting Open Access to scholarly research as a public good.

Enabling Environment

The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, to which Kenya is a party, explicitly recognizes the necessity of a right to information. The Charter provides that, “every individual shall have the right to receive information.”

In addition, Kenya has a commitment to the UN Principles on Freedom of Information enacted in 2000. Act 19, which Kenya has ratified, imposes a positive obligation on States to ensure access to information, particularly with regards to Government-held information by Government in all types of storage and retrieval systems.

Under the 2010 Kenyan Constitution, the Bill of Rights enshrines the right to information. Article 35 states that an individual has a right to access State-held information. It further imposes a duty on the State to publish and publicize any important information affecting the nation.

Kenya Open Data website was launched by President Mwai Kibaki under which government agencies provide Open Access (OA) to public information.

Kenya Law Reports: Kenyan legal fraternity has begun an initiative known as OA to Public Legal Information to provide access to public legal information (the Laws of Kenya, the Parliamentary Hansard, Legal notices, Gazette notices, Bills of Parliament and public historical government records dating back to 1906).

This is an indication of an enabling environment though implementation and reinforcement to ensure this is cascaded down to all Kenyan institutions. 

In 2009, INASP funded two Kenya Libraries and Information Services Consortium (KLISC) members to attend an OA workshop in South Africa, and later a one week attachment at the University of Pretoria, after which they began rigorous training in OA institutional repositories (IRs) to sensitise KLISC members. OA workshops and conferences have been conducted with KLISC members through the support of EIFL and INASP. About 35 of 75 KLISC member institutions have participated in these workshops and conferences and about 30 of those who participated have established or are in process of establishing institutional repositories. And Kenyan authors have also begun to publish in OA journals.

The OA initiative has been embraced in Kenya but to a small extent. Dedication and commitment, financial and moral support from the government, government institutions, academic and research organizations are of paramount importance.

Potential Barriers for Further Adoption

Progress in capitalising on OA initiatives to enhance accessibility and visibility of research outputs has been slow. The following are barriers to OA developments in the country.

Policy Issues and Quality Control

Lack of government framework and policy regulations to guide institutions make researchers unwilling to share research information online. For radical improvement it would be necessary to have more backing from the government, preferably to the extent of developing a country-wide OA policy so that institutions can gain government support. The government should be at the forefront to initiate OA projects and to provide an enabling environment. Kenya should be obliged to sign OA Declarations to facilitate implementation of OA projects.

Lack of Facilities/Infrastructure

There is need to implement ICT infrastructure: high bandwidth and better Internet connection. Institutions need to put their priorities right and ensure they have adequate equipment. However most institutions can not afford to purchase the necessary equipment.

Lack of technical expertise/inadequate staffing

This involves IR Administrators/Managers to coordinate and manage the system; Digitisation specialists for digital preservation issues; and ICT staff to monitor and upgrade the system. Hence there is a need for capacity building.

Lack of Commitments

Institutions need to introduce OA mandates to their funded research outputs. Libraries can show their commitment by launching OA IRs, helping faculty to deposit their research outputs, sensitising staff on the need to embrace OA initiatives and demonstrating benefits of OA to the academic community.


Both government and donor agencies need to support research and ICT infrastructure to ensure sustainability. Other International Organizations may offer support in capacity building to institutions that are still grappling to embrace the OA concept.

Lack of Sensitisation

This involves lack of advocacy and poor sensitisation approaches due to lack of resources. Many researchers in public institutions have yet to come to terms with e-communication processes in research, including e-publishing and OA initiatives. The adoption rate of OA concept by academics and authors has been very low, hence the need to sensitise research and academic communities on OA initiatives. Most researchers and academic staff do not know what OA entails and so may not support the initiative.

Other barriers include lack of high level management support, lack of funding, fear of exposure of intellectual work that will be rated globally, lack of prioritising OA IR in library activities, and fear of plagiarism.


  • Increased understanding of OA amongst faculty, librarians, research administrators, researchers and students.
  • Increased the amount of research published in OA in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by 300% from 2013 - 2019. During the second SPIDER-supported project, 2016 - 2019: 
    • In Kenya, the number of items available in 20 institutional OA repositories increased by four times, to 32,500;
    • In Tanzania, the number of items available in 17 institutional OA repositories doubled, to just under 19,000. 
    • In Uganda, the number of items in 11 institutional OA repositories more than doubled, to just under 12,000.
  • Increased the number of institutional OA repositories in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to a total of 92, from just seven in 2013. The University of Nairobi has the largest repository in Africa: by 2019 it had over 88,000 records.
  • Led to improvements in 23 existing OA repositories. 
  • Enhanced and improved workflows of the national OA repository set up by the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), which harvests content from institutional repositories.
  • Increased visibility of research, for example, there have been almost six million downloads from the University of Nairobi Digital Repository since 2013.
  • Increased the number of institutional OA policies being implemented in the region to 31, from just three in 2013. The policies mandate deposit of all research output produced, such as journal articles, theses and dissertations, in institutional OA repositories.:
    • In Kenya, 19 universities adopted OA policies
    • In Tanzania, seven universities and institutions adopted OA policies
    • In Uganda, five universities adopted OA policies
  • By March 2019, another 17 universities and institutions in the three countries had drafted OA policies that were in the final stages of approval. 
  • Built capacity of librarians, who are repository managers, and librarians and IT officers, who are repository administrators, in a wide range of topics (such as DSpace repository set-up and enhancements, policy administration, metadata standards and managing submissions workflows) in over 100 training events.
  • Strengthened relationships between IT personnel and library teams.
  • Improved existing repositories to increase visibility and discoverability of content, enhance user experiences, and ensure that back-up procedures and disaster recovery plans are in place. 
    • Repositories enabled persistent identifiers, which play a key role in discoverability, accessibility and reproducibility of research. 
    • They enabled OAI-PMH, which allows communication between servers globally and interoperability with other repositories to exchange metadata of content. 
    • Repositories registered with one of the two OA repositories registries, Directory of Open Access Repository (DOAR) and the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR). These registries are used to expose OA content to different aggregators and search engines.
    • Adapted interfaces to improve the user experience on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.
    • Built a base for ongoing support: the three library consortia (KLISC, CUUL and COTUL) are providing OA repository services that offer on-demand support for repository managers and administrators.

National and Institutional Level Policies/Mandates

As of June 2021, ROARMAP indicates 15 institutional OA policies; however, there still exists the need for the establishment and implementation of a national OA Policy.

In February 2011 the Strathmore University adopted an OA policy – a Harvard-style OA mandate – to show the commitment towards disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible. Each University member grants to the Vice Chancellor and Academic council of Strathmore University permission to make available his/her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles. Each Faculty member will provide an e-copy of the final version of the article at no charge to the appropriate representative of the Vice Chancellor’s Office in an appropriate format (such as PDF) specified by the Vice Chancellor’s Office no later than the date of its publication. The Vice Chancellor’s Office may make the article available to the public in an OA IR.

International Research Institute (ILRI) aims to make as many research products as possible open through OA IR Mahider. In December 2010 the Management Committee adopted a proposal for the institute to use an ‘open’ license for its published outputs. The aim is to encourage maximum uptake and re-use of ILRI’s research. Under this proposal, ILRI retains copyright over each output. It also explicitly encourages wide non-commercial re-use of each output, subject to full attribution of ILRI and the author(s), and use of an equally open license for any derivative output (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License). By default, this license applies to the following categories of outputs: ILRI published reports and publications (print and digital); ILRI photographs; ILRI powerpoints; ILRI posters and ILRI video and films. (From ILRI news)

Events and Programs

  • Increased number of OA policies in Kenya -numbers of institutions adopted OA policies have increased by over 100%
  • Improved OA repositories in Kenya that help better discovery and use of digital content
  • Growth in numbers of items deposited in repositories and published in OA platform 
  • High levels of usage noted from the statistics (5.7 downloads in a year eg. UoNrepository)
  • Contributed to the excellent performance of the Universities WebometricRankings 
  • Contributed to visibility of researchers - citation 
  • Kenya is ranked as one the African countries with the highest number of policies and repositories and can only compete with South Africa (Over 12 OA policies adopted and additional 25 repositories established and enhanced since the beginning of the Eifl projects, making a total of 29 repositories 
  • Increased number of repositories on intranet expected online after the project (15 on intranet/not registered)
  • Ten policies in draft form expected to be approved and others approved but not registered
  • Kenya Library and Information Services Consortium (KLISC) was established in 2004 and currently has membership of about 75 institutions. Their objectives are as follows: to share information resources in stock; to facilitate capacity building in libraries and information centres in Kenya; to share procurement costs of information resources; to promote the use of ICTs in information management; to promote development of local content; to enhance dissemination of information for research and national development. KLISC collaborates with several national and international organizations in the implementation of its programmes. Members benefit in various ways both at institutional and individual levels from this collaboration. Their contact is University of Nairobi Library libraryhelp(at)
  • KLISC has recently conducted a study to assess the extent to which institutional repositories (IR) have been established to capture local content among member instituion, the role of KLISC in supporting the establishment, and the challenges and intervention measures. Of the 35 questionnaires distributed to respondents, 26 returned completed questionnaires, an impressive response rate of 74%, an indication of significant interest in developing IRs. The results indicated that 17 (65%) institutions have embraced or are in the process of establishing IRs in their institutions, while 9 (35%) have not established IRs. The respondents were asked to indicate the kind of content deposited in their IRs and response shows high preference for theses and dissertations. 
  • The respondents were asked to indicate if they have IR policies in place. Of the authorities responding, just 6 (23%) claimed to have a policy, while 20 (77%) claimed they had no policy. This is worrying that so few institutions recognize the need for formulation of IR policies to regulate good practice in the development of IR. Without a policy the project will definitely not succeed. It is encouraging that though 20 (77%) claimed they did not have a policy in place, a number noted that it was under development.
  • The respondents were asked to give their opinion on how much the high level management in their institution understands the importance of IR. Majority of 11 (42%) felt the management know little, 7 (27%) indicted fairly well. Of the remaining, 2 (8%) declined to answer, and 6 (23%) indicated very well. Among those indicated very well, 4 (70%) were from private universities and research institutions. The result generally indicates that top level management understands little about the importance of IR.
  • The results confirmed that there is a lot KLISC can do to support the IR projects. This may involve sharing costs in purchasing relevant equipment for member institutions. There is also need to facilitate sensitization for authors, researchers and the high level management of institutions.
  • (From Rosemary M. Otando. ETD2011 Paper Building Institutional Repositories in KLISC Member Institutions in Kenya: Current Status and Emerging
  • challenges).
  • Kenya Agricultural Information Network's (KAINET) role is to make public domain agricultural information and knowledge in Kenya truly accessible to all and to build a common and freely accessible information system through partnership in the generation, collection, processing, archival, and dissemination of agricultural information on common standards.
  • Kenya Education Network Trust (KENET) is a National Research and Education Network that promotes the use of ICT in Teaching, Learning and Research in Higher Education Institutions in Kenya. KENET aims to interconnect all the Universities, Tertiary and Research Institutions in Kenya by setting up a cost effective and sustainable private network with high speed access to the global Internet. KENET also share learning and teaching resources by collaboration in Research and Development of Educational content.
  • The Kenya Information Preservation Society (KIPS) developed a database containing 12,343 records of theses and dissertations undertaken in Kenya.

Past and Future OA Related Activities

29-30 January, 2015: "Consultative Forum on Open Access (OA): Towards High-Level Interventions for Research and Development in Africa"; Nairobi, Kenya.

10 May, 2014: "Medical Students Association of Kenya (MSAKE) Open Access Workshop"

"Publishing in Open Access Journals: International, National and Institutional Perspectives", University of Nairobi, Kenya, August 29, 2012.

"Curbing Plagiarism: Is Open Access the Cause or the Cure?" University of Nairobi, Kenya, August 29, 2012.

Institutions with OA IRs still on development stage include: JKUAT (policy issues), Egerton University (policy issues), St. Paul university (customization, policy issues), University of Eastern Africa, Baraton (customization) and Daystar (policy issues).

Institutions that have implemented IRs but are still on Local Area Network are as follows: University of Nairobi (108 items); Kenyatta University (Past Papers); College of Insurance, KMFRI (Advanced stage – 400 items), Kabarak (Advanced stage – 3000 items), Agha Khan University (80 Items), Marist International (55 items), Moi University (Advanced stage), KCA (103 items), ICIPE (21 Items), Inoorero, KEMRI and KEMU.

Association of African Universities (AAU) supports the Database of African Thesis and Dissertations (DATAD), a project to build regional database for theses and dissertations. DATAD programme improves management and access to African scholarly work. Kenyatta University is a member of DATAD. A Workshop on ‘Database of African Theses and Dissertations (DATAD) supported by AAU took place on 11 – 12 July 2007 at Kenyatta University.

INASP: OA Week is an opportunity to broaden awareness and understanding of OA to research. Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology is one of the institutions in Kenya that has benefited financially from INAP to host OA Week. So far several institutions have applied for grants to take part in the OA Week scheduled in October 2011. INASP has also supported Publishing in OA Journals, a project that has offered opportunity to many Kenyan authors to publish online.

EIFL has supported capacity building to launch OA IRs. EIFL has co-organized a number of projects such as OA and the Evolving Scholarly Communication Environment, February 17 – 19, 2010, University of Nairobi – a workshop organised by Bioline International, EIFL and Kenya Libraries and Information Services Consortium; and Benefits of OA for Research Dissemination, Usage, Visibility and Impact workshop, August 30, 2010, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. EIFL has also facilitated African Digital Libraries Support Network project (formerly Southern African Greenstone Support Network) to build capacities in FOSS implementation to build digital libraries.

OA Africa 2010 was a Conference at Kenyatta University sponsored by BioMed Central in 2010.

Open Science and Open Data Related Events

June 2015: KALRO (KAINET) Open Data and Open Science in Agriculture Workshop

This workshop was organized by the Kenya Agricultural and Information Network (KAINet) partner institutions Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Ministry of Agriculture (MoA-AIRC), Kenya Forestry and Research Institute (KEFRI),  Jomo Kenya University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The event provided a forum for stakeholders in agricultural research organizations in Kenya to share knowledge and propose strategies on improving the visibility and access to agricultural sciences and technical content.

The forum highlighted several Kenyan initiatives already in place to support open science and to foster processes to improved access to agricultural data. Advocacy on an institutional and governmental level was a key recommendation and the KAINet secretariat and member institutions are focused on driving this forward.

The outcome focuses (FAO Country Programming Framework for Kenya 2013-2017):

  • Knowledge generation through the use of innovative approaches;
  • Knowledge capture focusing on data collection and management;
  • Knowledge sharing through use of efficient and effective methodologies and technologies;
  • Knowledge application focusing on adaptive knowledge application and evidence based decision support.

August 2014: International Workshop on Open Data for Science and Sustainability in Developing Countries (OpenDataSSDC)

The workshop presented a special opportunity to present the accomplishments in improving access to and use of research data and in reducing the digital divide since the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), held in Geneva 2003 and Tunis 2005. The workshop also included a training session for young scientists in good data management practices.


  • 25 June, 2014: "Open access in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania- making research more relevant to the world" by Iryna Kuchma published on
  • 9 April, 2014: "Open access: academic publishing and its implications for knowledge equity in Kenya" by Duncan Mwangangi Matheka et. al. published in Globalization and Health 2014, 10:26
  • 4 June, 2013: "Open access in Africa- changes and challenges: Elsevier's director of access relations writes about his work with the African Academy of Science in Kenya" by David Tempest posted on
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  • Di Salvo, I., M. Mwoka, T. Kwaga, P. A. Rukundo, D. S. Ernest, L. A. Osaheni, K. John, K. Shafik, and A. M. de Sousa. 2015. “Open Access, Open Education Resources and Open Data in Uganda.” Pan African Medical Journal 21. doi: 10.11604/pamj.2015.21.129.6325.
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