Open access in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

Opening research from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to the world

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Health workers and researchers at Embu General Provincial Hospital in eastern Kenya work online using open access research.
Health workers and researchers at Embu General Provincial Hospital in eastern Kenya are now using open access research to help more patients.


Researchers in Eastern Africa are producing important research that can contribute to development and scholarship. However, much of this is not freely available online, and is therefore not globally accessible.

To increase accessibility and visibility of research from Eastern Africa, EIFL began advocating for open access (OA) in the region in 2010, when we supported the first-ever OA workshop in Kenya, with support from the Open Society Foundations (OSF).

Since then, EIFL has worked with a variety of local stakeholders to raise awareness, support OA policy work and provide practical training to promote and establish OA journals and OA repositories at institutions of higher learning.

In 2013 we received funding from SPIDER (the Swedish Programme for ICT in Developing Regions DSV, Department of Computer and System Sciences, Stockholm University), to expand our OA work in the region to include two more countries - Tanzania and Uganda - in two major projects.

The first project (2013 to 2014), titled  ‘OA in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda’, increased the number of OA repositories from just seven in 2013 to 31 by 2014 (with another 29 under construction).

However, although the number of repositories had increased, growth of content in the repositories was slow. To encourage deposits, EIFL launched a second project in 2016, titled ‘OA policies in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda’. This project works with 16 research intensive universities in the three countries to develop institutional OA policies that will increase content in the new institutional repositories.

In both projects, EIFL’s main partners have been our partner library consortia, the Kenya Library & Information Services Consortium (KLISC), the Consortium for Tanzania Universities and Research Libraries (COTUL) and the Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL).


February 2013 - March 2019


  • Building in-country capacity to develop OA repositories and OA journals;
  • Setting up institutional OA repositories;
  • Converting subscription-based journals into OA;
  • Building OA policy development capacity and setting up policy development task forces;
  • Developing and drafting OA policies;
  • Auditing and improving OA institutional repositories; and
  • Organizing OA advocacy meetings and campaigns.
It is opening up our research. Making it available to others. The research we do is supposed to be for the public good. We are being funded by public institutions, donors, and I think it is good to be able to share.
Prof Lucy W. Irungu, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Production and Extension at the University of Nairobi


  • Increased understanding of OA amongst faculty, students and research administrators.
  • Increased the number of institutional OA repositories in the three countries to a total of 68 by 2016 (from just seven in 2013).
  • Increased the amount of OA digital content from the region: the amount of content available in institutional OA repositories has increased by over 300% since 2013.
  • 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 OA policies implemented by institutions in the region by eight, from three in 2013 to 11 in 2017. The eight new policies are being implemented by:  
    • Kenya - University of Embu; Kenyatta University; Kirinyaga University; and Pwani University;
    • Tanzania - Muhimbili University of Health (MUHAS) and the Consortium on Allied Sciences and Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation (CCIAMP - a project of five institutions in Tanzania and Norway);
    • Uganda - Uganda Christian University, and Regional University Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), a consortium of 66 universities in 26 countries in Africa. RUFORUM is coordinated by a Secretariat hosted by Makerere University in Kampala.
  • Improved university web rankings in Africa (existence of OA repositories, and quantity and quality of content, contribute to global web rankings of universities): in 2017, the Ranking Web of Universities placed University of Nairobi (Kenya) 8th, Makerere University (Uganda) 11th, and Dar es Salaam University (Tanzania) 33rd in Africa.
  • Increase in the number of OA journals in the region. One new OA journal was launched, and 13 more OA journals and five institutional OA publishing platforms are being set up.
  • Increased OA advocacy capacity: over 20 national and institutional OA advocacy groups (including researchers, students, librarians and research managers) have implemented campaigns to promote OA, OA policies and use of OA content.


Until the end of the project in March 2019, EIFL continued to contribute to OA policy development in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to make more digital content available. Updates on our progress and achievements to come.


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