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 contributes to scholarship and to development. However, much of this is not freely available online, and is therefore not globally accessible.

To increase availability 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 funding from the Open Society Foundations (OSF). The workshop, at the University of Nairobi, marked the start of wide-ranging EIFL activities from 2011 to 2013 to raise awareness about OA in Eastern Africa; to support the drafting and adoption of OA policies, and to provide practical training for establishment of OA journals and OA repositories at universities and research institutes. 

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 Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Through this project, we increased the number of institutional OA repositories, but the growth of content in the repositories was slow. 

To encourage deposits, EIFL launched a second project in 2016, also funded by SPIDER, to develop institutional OA policies that would mandate deposit of all research output produced, such as journal articles, theses and dissertations, in institutional OA repositories.

EIFL’s main partners in Eastern Africa are 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).


2010 - 2019


  • Building capacity to develop OA repositories and OA journals;
  • Setting up OA policy development task forces; supporting drafting and adoption of OA policies;
  • Auditing and improving OA institutional repositories; 
  • Organizing OA advocacy meetings and campaigns.


  • 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.

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