Africa: Breaking Down The Academic Paywalls, In Africa Too

Julie Blussé | allAfrica | April 5, 2013

Across Africa, academics and researchers face financial barriers that keep them from accessing the same knowledge their peers elsewhere in the world can afford.

But some young Africans are fighting to change this. Open access publishing is their weapon of choice.

While participating in the 2011 campaign to pass Kenya's Cancer Bill, Daniel Munyambu Mutonga, a medical student at the University of Nairobi, hit a wall - a paywall. To convince the public of the bill's importance, he needed the latest statistics and research on breast cancer in Kenya. The articles were a click away. But, he recalls, he "just couldn't get to that information. It wasn't published in accessible journals."

The reason for non-access? His library couldn't afford the expensive medical journals in which the articles were published. Adding to his frustration, Mutonga realized that the research he needed had probably been published by a Kenyan, maybe even a colleague down the hall. Yet for him, the findings were invisible.