Close to thirty institutions receive certificates at Berlin10 Open Access Conference

The Berlin10 Open Access Conference drew to a close on Thursday (8 November) when certificates were handed to 28 African institutions that had signed the Berlin Declaration.

No less than 28 African institutions have since 2010 signed the Berlin Declaration. Signatories were handed certificates at the Berlin10 Open Access Conference. Faith Bhengu from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s library services received the certificate on behalf of her university. Photo: Anton Jordaan

By signing the Declaration, signatories commit themselves to promoting and following the principles of the open access movement.

The Berlin Declaration was drawn up after a meeting in 2003 organised by the Max Planck Society an the European Cultural Heritage Online project. After this meeting a number of international research, scientific and cultural institutions issued and signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

Stellenbosch University (SU) in 2010 became the first African institution to sign the Declaration. Two years later close to thirty African institutions has followed the example set by SU. And this year SU became the first African institution to host the prestigious Berlin Open Access Conference.

“The hosting of this conference will undoubtedly enhance the international recognition of Africa as a significant contributor to the world’s knowledge production,” said Mr Derek Hanekom, Minister of Science and Technology at a gala dinner on Wednesday (7 November).

“Academic libraries, especially those in Africa, have limited access to critical research information. This stifles the growth of African research and its capacity to find solutions to the problems facing the continent. Access barriers sometimes even result in critical, relevant knowledge and research outputs generated in Africa being published in journals overseas. And these journals are not affordable to African academic libraries. This means that Africa is deprived of its own knowledge production, relegating the continent to the status of silent and invisible contributor to research output. Open access can help to remove these financial barriers to access to information and it is one of the most progressive ways of growing and showcasing African research.”

Prof Bernard Schutz, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (at the back) thanked the team from Stellenbosch University and Library Service for the sterling work they did in organising and hosting the Berlin10 Open Access Conference. The SU team is: Ms Ellen Tise, Senior Director, Dr Reggie Raju, Director: Client Services at the Library and Information Service and Ms Ina Smit, Manager of SUNScholar, SU’s Open Access repository, and coordinator of the Berlin 10 conference. Photo: Anton Jordaan.

The conference was attended by over 280 delegates from across the globe. Prof Bernard Schutz, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics at the closing of the conference, handed over gifts to the South African organisers Ms Ellen Tise, Senior Director of the SU’s Library and Information Service, Dr Reggie Raju, Director Client Services at the Library and Information Service and Ms Ina Smit, Manager of SUNScholar (the Open Access repository) and coordinator of the Berlin 10 conference. Schutz thanked them for their hard work in organising an extremely successful conference.

The following institutions received certificates in acknowledgement of their commitment to the principles of open access: