Open Access in Kenya

EIFL contributes to open access in Kenya

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Participants in the first-ever workshop on open access in Kenya, organized by EIFL and KLISC at the University of Nairobi in 2010.

EIFL began advocating for open access in Kenya in 2010 when, with our partner, the Kenya Libraries and Information Services Consortium (KLISC), we organized the first-ever open access workshop in the country, at the University of Nairobi. 

The workshop was funded by the Open Society Foundations (OSF). It attracted researchers, students, university administrators, journal editors and librarians from institutions across the country. This was the first encounter with open access for many of the workshop participants, and back at their institutions, they began raising awareness about open access, and initiating open access policy and repository development processes. 

From 2011 to 2013, working with KLISC, EIFL provided small grants to support national and institutional open access advocacy and awareness raising campaigns, drafting of open access policies and establishment of open access repositories at institutions across Kenya. The projects were partly funded by Kenyan partner institutions - universities and government research institutions. These projects resulted in the adoption of open access policies at four institutions, and establishment of open access repositories at 10 institutions.

Between 2013 and 2021, EIFL received funding from SPIDER (the Swedish Programme for ICT in Developing Regions DSV, Department of Computer and System Sciences, Stockholm University), for three projects to work with KLISC to expand open access in Kenya.

“Open access has made me more visible to my fellow researchers and also to funding bodies that are looking for people working in my area. I have been able to build new relationships. People see my work and they want to collaborate.” - Professor Mary Abukutsa-Onyango, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology




  • Raising awareness about open access at Kenyan academic and research institutions, through workshops and campaigns.
  • Organizing open access advocacy meetings with leadership and management of government research institutes and universities.
  • Setting up open access policy development task forces; supporting drafting and adoption of open access policies.
  • Building technical capacity to develop and launch open access repositories and open access journals.
  • Auditing and improving open access institutional repositories.


Increased number of open access policies

  • 21 Kenyan universities adopted open access policies, and many more have drafted policies. The policies mandate deposit of all research output, including journal articles, theses and dissertations, in open access repositories. 

Increased availability and visibility of Kenyan research output

  • 60 universities established institutional open access repositories. The University of Nairobi has the largest repository in Africa: by 2022 it had over 109,000 publications.
  • Most of the repositories have been registered with OpenDOAR (the Directory of Open Access Repositories) and ROAR (the Registry of Open Access Repositories), exposing content to different aggregators and search engines.
  • The amount of research published in open access in Kenya increased year on year.  By 2020, more than half of Kenyan research output was published in open access, according to COKI (Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative) Open Access Dashboard
  • Four universities launched open access journals portals: University of Nairobi, with 23 journals, Kenyatta University, with five journals, Jomo Kenyatta University and Technical University of Mombasa with the Multidisciplinary journal.
  • Chuka University set up an open access journal publishing platform in 2021 and will be publishing its Journal of Environmental Sustainability Advancement Research (JESAR) in open access. 

Built technical capacity to manage and maintain repositories

  • Librarians, who are repository managers, and librarians and IT officers, who are repository administrators, have been trained in topics, such as DSpace repository set-up and enhancements, policy administration, metadata standards and managing submissions workflows.
  • Existing repositories have been improved 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. 
  • Adapted interfaces improve the user experience on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
  • KLISC is providing open access repository services that offer on-demand support for repository managers and administrators.