Tag Archives: Africa

Building capacity of Africa’s library consortia
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Jon Harle reports on the recent library consortia meeting in Addis Ababa about building strong foundations for research to deliver African Union’s ‘Agenda 2063’ Last week’s workshop in Ethiopia wasn’t about libraries. It was about taking a vision of research and higher education – a vision of enabling development, tackling critical problems, improving the delivery of basic and much-needed services, preparing Africa for a changing world – and pulling that down to the detail of skills, of organizational processes and structures, of defining and addressing priorities through the incremental, day-to-day steps through which capacity is developed, services improved and progress made. One of my frustrations after the Senegal African Higher Education Summit in March was that we weren’t discussing the ‘how’ – and realising these ambitions for research and higher education will depend on taking high-level goals and translating them to real and sustained improvements in myriad areas, so that … Continue reading

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Library consortia sharing expertise: A small meeting tackling important issues in Addis Ababa
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Addis Ababa is used to hosting big and important meetings. The African Union and UNECA are both based here. A few weeks ago the UN Financing for Development conference brought several thousand visitors to Addis Ababa. And on Sunday evening President Obama flew in from Kenya. But this week Addis is also playing host to a smaller, quieter event – but an important one nevertheless. Seven library consortia have come together in Addis, hosted by the Consortium for Ethiopian Academic and Research Libraries (CEARL) and facilitated by INASP, to spend five days sharing ideas, learning, and collectively identifying solutions to some of the many challenges they share. But library consortia aren’t just clubs or networks of libraries: they play a key role in enabling a strong and effective research and knowledge system. By enabling their member institutions to collectively purchase online journals and books, consortia are making a critical contribution … Continue reading

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World class universities – or world class systems?
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The idea of ‘world class universities’ grips the higher education sector, driven by several big international rankings. It’s an idea that is no less popular when it comes to many of the countries in which INASP works. But when it comes to research and higher education for development, is it world class universities that we should be pursuing? Different institutions to do different things Goolam Mohamedbhai argues that what African higher education needs is ‘mission differentiation’, namely a range of institutions doing different things. Rather than focusing on creating new universities, governments should instead be supporting existing institutions in different ways – some to become more research-focused, and some to concentrate more on undergraduate education. ‘It would be impossible, and unnecessary, for most staff in all tertiary institutions on the continent to have a PhD’ he argues. In a similar vein, Lynn Meek argues that our emphasis should be on … Continue reading

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Policy dialogues: A space for engagement
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I participated in the first of a series of policy dialogues organised by Zeipnet in Zimbabwe. The aim of these is to bring different sectors of society together to discuss certain policy issues. In this first one, the uncoordinated policies of industry and trade were discussed. These policies were formulated in 2012 and the set targets should be achieved by 2016. They are part of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset). There were more than 50 people at the event and I was surprised to see so many members of the government, and more than 50% of the participants were civil servants. Among them, the director of research of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the director of Insurance and Pensions from the Ministry of Finance, the director of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, the principal director for programmes at the Parliament, the director of the Ministry of … Continue reading

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Promoting Policy Dialogue in Harare
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On Monday 7th July 2014, the Zimbabwe Evidence Informed Policy Network (ZeipNET) hosted the first in a series of Policy Dialogue events. The aim of these Policy Dialogues is to open discussions around key national policy issues, bringing government together with relevant members of the society such as the private sector, journalists, researchers, social leaders, etc. This series will help to bridge the research-policy divide and engage relevant stakeholders in the policy-making process. ZeipNET is part of VakaYiko; a consortium of five organisations involved in building the capacity of policy-makers to recognise, articulate and act on research to shape better policy. The first Policy Dialogue was held in Harare, Zimbabwe and focused on improving trade and industrial policy coordination and dialogue between the government and private sector. Director General of the Standards Association of Zimbabwe, Eve .C Gadzikwa, attended and chaired the Policy Dialogue. We asked her a few questions … Continue reading

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Why the usual figures for knowledge production are just the tip of the iceberg
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This is a joint post written by Jonathan Harle (INASP Senior Programme Manager, Research Access and Availability) and Sioux Cumming (INASP Programme Manager, Journals Online). The other week we came across this infographic posted by the Oxford Internet Institute, showing the geography of academic knowledge. As is instantly clear, Europe and North America dominate the production of academic research, with Latin America, Africa and South Asia barely visible. In fact only Nigeria and South Africa make it onto the map for Africa, while the whole of central and Southern America is reduced to six countries, and while Pakistan is just about visible alongside its larger neighbour India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal (3 countries that INASP works with) are entirely absent. Of course, it’s no surprise that Europe and North America produce so much. Between them they account for some of the world’s leading universities and research institutes and many … Continue reading

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