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AfricArXiv: the pan-African Open Scholarly Repository

Overview document and roadmap - Version 1.0 (September 25, 2020)

Published onSep 25, 2020
AfricArXiv: the pan-African Open Scholarly Repository

Ahinon, J. S., Arafat, H., Ahmad, U., Achampong, J., Aldirdiri, O., Ayodele, O. T., … Havemann, J. (2020, September 25). AfricArXiv – the pan-African Open Scholarly Repository.

AfricArXiv is a community-led digital archive for African research working towards building an Africa-owned open scholarly repository; a knowledge commons of African scholarly works. We are partnering with established scholarly repository services to provide a platform for African scientists of any discipline to present their research findings and connect with other researchers – on the African continent and globally. 

It is our aim to promote discoverability of African research output according to 

To contextualize the above to the African scholarly community we have postulated 

10 African Principles for Open Access in Scholarly Communication: 


A decentrally managed pan-African preprint repository platform that serves as a multidisciplinary, credible, reliable and viable archive of research works from and about Africa and is interoperable, accessible and shareable across platforms, inside and outside the African continent, while being owned, i.e. hosted and curated, by African scholarly institutions on the continent.

For details, go to


Establishing an independent and open research repository and interoperable source of contributions for and from researchers as well as innovators working on pan-Africa advancement with the goal to increase discoverability of African researchers’ output and for all scientists who work in an African context.


  • Increasing discoverability of African research output

  • Making text, data and information on online digital scholarly platforms searchable and discoverable 

  • Showcasing African research output

  • Promoting submissions to African journals

  • Disseminating African knowledge and expertise

  • Enabling research exchange inside the continent

  • Fostering cross-continental collaboration

  • Highlighting research of local and regional relevance

  • Filling the gaps where institutional repository systems are missing and working towards text and data repository interoperability 

  • Transferring knowledge accumulated by Africans in the diaspora back to the continent

Target groups

  • Early and Mid Career Researchers for reputation building by archiving theses, dissertations, student reports, datasets, research contributions, etc.

  • Senior level researchers to provide open access (OA) to their work

  • Data creators to link datasets to the African research environment

  • Librarians to assess and define how best to guide African researchers in the scholarly communication workflow (discipline- and region-specific)

  • Conference, webinar and course organizers to collate conference outputs

  • Policy makers and governmental institutions to support decision making and publication of documentation relevant to African affairs

  • Non governmental organizations working on African affairs to provide open access to their reports

Why do we need a scholarly repository for Africa?

  • More visibility for African research output

  • Increase collaboration across continents

  • Make local research visible globally

  • Trigger interdisciplinary research

  • Research result dissemination in African languages

We encourage submissions from 

  • African scientists based on the African continent 

  • African scientists who are currently based at a host institute outside Africa

  • non-African scientists who report on research conducted on African territory

  • non-African scientists who report on research relevant to African affairs

  • non-scientists who work at governmental, for-profit and non-profit institutions to submit their reports and datasets in compliance to scholarly standards to allow for cross-sectoral knowledge exchange

We accept the following file types 

  • Text documents (preprints, postprints, VoR)

    • Research article and review manuscripts 

    • Project proposals

    • Preregistrations

    • Student reports

    • ‘Negative’ results and ‘null’ results (i.e. results that do not support a hypothesis)

    • Theses

  • Datasets, scripts and codes

  • Presentation slide decks

  • Posters & infographics

  • Audio/Visual content 

    • Webinar recordings

    • Video and audio files 

  • Non-academic works of institutions that work at the intersection to academia

    • Annual organizational and business reports 

    • Policy statements and recommendations

    • Guidelines and infographics

Digital infrastructure


We launched AfricArXiv in 2018 in partnership with the Center for Open Science. From February 2020 we are additionally partnering with ScienceOpen and Pubpub. We also curate a community on Zenodo and are planning to expand further with Figshare and PKP preprints.

The Open Science Framework (OSF) is a free and open-source project management tool that supports researchers throughout their entire project lifecycle.            

ScienceOpen is a discovery platform with interactive features for scholars to enhance their research in the open, make an impact, and receive credit for it.           

PubPub socializes the process of knowledge creation by integrating conversation, annotation, and versioning into short and long-form digital publication.           

Zenodo is a simple and innovative service enabling researchers to share and showcase research results from all fields of science.                        

An example of the type of file and appropriate platforme to submit the work can be found below:

File type

Submit to

Text documents
- manuscript (preprint, postprint, VoR)

- report
- proposal

OSF, ScienceOpen, Zenodo


OSF, Zenodo

Poster, infographic, graphics

OSF, Pubpub, Zenodo, figshare?


OSF, Zenodo,figshare?

Audio/Visual content

non-academic submissions



We envision AfricArXiv to be independent and non-reliant of any national legal, political and functional restrictions to ensure accessibility and functionality of the database at all times to African researchers on the continent and worldwide. All African researchers should have access to the whole database at all times. 

A decentrally organized pan-African repository platform

To ensure and enable distributed and decentralized hosting of the database/s, we are building legal partnerships with scholarly institutions in all five regions on the African continent.

Currently, AfricArXiv is managed and coordinated via Access 2 Perspectives (A2P) a training consultancy based in Berlin, Germany. For legal liability status and additional information see

A2P is actively looking to transition legal and financial ownership to regional African hosting partner institutions. The semi-independent status of AfricArXiv’s operational modus and services will be postulated in partnership agreements. Each partner institution will serve as regional fiscal host and manage finances and administration for AfricArXiv in that region - together with a dedicated contact person in the core AfricArXiv team.

AfricArXiv will be governed by a Board of Trustees, an Advisory Board and the Executive Team. The Board of Trustees will consist of representatives from the regional hosting institutions, key financial contributors, and individuals appointed by the team. The advisory board is made up of experts in various aspects of scholarly communication as relevant for the African scholarly community.

Current governance 


AfricArXiv is managed and coordinated by a team of scholars and experts in the field of scholarly publishing and digital infrastructure on the continent, positioning AfricArXiv to serve the scholarly community on the entire continent and increase collaboration with researchers across Africa and worldwide. To date, AfricArXiv hosts more than 180 scholarly works on four (4) repository platforms demonstrating viability to promote the sharing and visibility of African research.

For a detailed structure of the current setup and planning of AfricArXiv’s activities and services, please refer to the visual map at

Executive team 

Strategy development and coordination

- team coordination
- strategic planning and partnership building
- financial planning

Technology development and maintenance

- website setup and maintenance
- coordination and observation of technical details as provided by partner organisations
- technological planning and strategizing towards an Africa-owned literature & data repository

Community Management

strategizing, information sharing and community engagement via the AfricArXiv blog, newsletter and social media channels

Submission Moderation and Quality Assurance 

Ensuring quality for literature and data submissions to repositories managed by AfricArXiv

Advisory board

In February 2020, six (6) experts in various fields relevant to AfricArXiv’s vision and mission formed the AfricArXiv advisory board.


A growing number of volunteers and contributors who spend some of their time, expertise and/or finances towards our shared vision and mission.


The institutions and initiatives listed on our website at support the mandate of AfricArXiv and encourage African scientists – and non-African scientists who work on African topics – to share their research output in an Open Access repository, journal or on other freely accessible digital platforms. 

We work with them towards open scholarly communication in Africa in the following areas: 

Partner repositories: Open Science Framework (OSF), Pubpub, ScienceOpen, Zenodo

Peer Review: Decentralized Science, Qeios, ScienceOpen, PREreview, Peer Community in … (PCI)

Capacity Building: Vilsquare, r0g_agency for open culture and critical transformation, TCC Africa, Open Science MOOC, AuthorAid, Science For Africa, Access 2 Perspectives

Science Literacy: African Science Literacy Network (ASLN), Under the Microscope, AfroScience Network, Science Communication Hub Nigeria (SciComNigeria)

Scholarly Networking: Bobab, AfricaOSH, African Science Initiative (ASI), WACREN/LIBSENSE, Just One Giant Lab (JOGL), Psychological Science Accelerator, Institute for Globally Distributed Open Research and Education (IGDORE), eLearning Africa, Vilsquare Makers' Hub 

Discoverability & Interoperability: Center for Open Science, ScienceOpen, ORCID, Open Knowledge Maps, Code for Africa, Knowledge Futures Group, International African Institute (IAI), Open African Repository (OAR)

Finance strategy

Building and managing AfricArXiv involves expenses for human resources, technology development, partner services, third party services like web hosting, digital communication tool fees etc. From 2018 to 2020, these expenses were covered by direct financial contributions (mostly by Access 2 Perspectives), conference participation and partner service fee waivers and a highly dedicated in-kind workforce by the team.

From 2021, our planned revenue streams include:

  • Institutional partnerships

    • Scholarly libraries in Africa

    • African Studies departments 

    • Research departments, institutions and universities

  • Crowdfunding

    • Individual support (one-time and recurring)

  • Training, consultancy services and capacity building

Financial contributions to AfricArXiv can be made via PayPal, mPesa, direct debit, and online transfer. For details, see

Online contributions can be placed at (incognito donation possible) via credit/debit card or bank transfer.

Outreach, communication and networking

AfricArXiv is calling on institutions and organizations across Africa, such as NRENs, regional and national collaborators, grassroots Open Science initiatives, consortia, coalitions, scholarly associations etc. in order to:

  • Inform about AfricArXiv’s core services (preprint hosting) 

  • Establish partnerships with institutions and organisations that focus on the African region practicing Open Science principles

  • Grow together and build a strong community as a network of Open Science focused scholarly organisations and stakeholders on the African continent

The AfricArXiv team is maintaining a communication strategy outlining specifics of internal (team) and external (partners and user groups) communication and defining the tools and means AfricArXiv uses to achieve its goals.

Bearing technical and digital infrastructure challenges in mind, AfricArXiv promotes the use of digital tools for scholarly communication while at the same time working with partners and stakeholders to develop workarounds and hybrid approaches to cater for pertaining low-resource and low-bandwidth settings.

AfricArXiv encourages and seeks to facilitate increasing interconnectivity of existing literature and data repositories of various systems. 


Report 2018 - 2020

Find here a list of accomplishments since the launch in 2018 and throughout 2020.

Milestone achievements



Bezuidenhout, Louise, & Havemann, Johanna. (2020, September 3). The Varying Openness of Digital Open Science Tools. Zenodo. 

Ayodele, O., Havemann, J., Owango, J., Ksibi, N., & Ahearn, C. (2020). Proposal: Audio/Visual Preprints. AfricArXiv. 

Havemann, Jo et al. (2020). Harnessing the Open Science infrastructure for an efficient African response to COVID-19 [preprint]. 

Bezuidenhout, Louise, McNaughton, Anna, & Havemann, Johanna. (2020, March 26). Multilingual COVID-19 Information Videos. Zenodo. 

Bezuidenhout, Louise, Havemann, Jo, Kitchen, Stephanie, De Mutiis, Anna, & Owango, Joy. (2020). African Digital Research Repositories: Mapping the Landscape [preprint]. // dataset DOI 10.5281/zenodo.3732171


Havemann, Jo, Ksibi, Nabil, Maina, Mahmoud Bukar, Obanda, Johanssen, Okelo, Luke, & Owango, Joy. (2020). Higher Education & Research in Africa – the stakeholders [Data set]. Zenodo. 

Bezuidenhout, Louise, & Havemann, Johanna. (2020). The Varying Openness of Digital Open Science Tools [Data set]. Zenodo. 

Bezuidenhout, Louise, Havemann, Jo, Kitchen, Stephanie, De Mutiis, Anna, & Owango, Joy. (2020). African Digital Research Repositories: Mapping the Landscape [Data set]. Zenodo. 

Bezuidenhout, Louise. (2020). Africa, Laboratory Equipment and COVID-19 Response. 

Akligoh, Harry, Havemann, Jo, Restrepo, Martin, & Obanda, Johanssen. (2020). Mapping the COVID-19 global response: from grassroots to governments [Data set]. Zenodo. 

Michael Cary. (2020). A list of open access papers pertaining to racism [Data set]. Zenodo. 

Jon Tennant, Bruce Caron, Jo Havemann, Samuel Guay, Julien Colomb, Eva Lantsoght, … Cooper Smout. (2019, March 16). OpenScienceMOOC/Module-1-Open-Principles: Second release (Version 2.0.0). Zenodo. 


Owango, Joy. (2020). To what Degree are African Researchers Publishing in Open Access Journals since the launch of Plan S?. (audio/visual)

Obanda, J., & Havemann, J. (2020). AfricArXiv at the Open Publishing Fest. AfricArXiv. Retrieved from (audio/visual)

Hodgkinson, M., Marincola, E., Aldirdiri, O., & Owango, J. (2020). State of Open Access in Africa and its Implication on Researchers. AfricArXiv. (audio/visual)

Akligoh Harry Sefoga. (2020, June). No Better Time to Practice Open Science Than Now. Zenodo. 

Havemann, Johanna, & Ahinon, Justin Sègbédji. (2019, December). What role can Open Science play in enabling global knowledge exchange?. Zenodo. 

Havemann, J., & Ahinon, J. S. (2019, October 27). What Role Can Open Science Play in Enabling South-North Dialogues?. 

Ahinon Sègbédji Justin. (2019, March). Another science is possible. Zenodo. 

Havemann, Johanna. (2019, February). A Case for Open Science Hardware. Zenodo. 

Ahinon, Justin, & Havemann, Jo. (2018). Open Science in Africa - Challenges, Opportunities and Perspectives. 

Posters & Infographics 

Conference poster (A0) 

Infographic on ‘How to submit’: 

Blog posts

For the complete list please go to

Key Performance Indicators

Submission metrics (all time since 2018) 

Community building

AfricArxiv metrics 2020: The growing followerbase is composed of Twitter, Facebook fanpage, Facebook group, LinkedIn institutional page, Youtube, WhatsApp, Slack, Github, and newsletter subscribers.


AfricArXiv is always looking to the most relevant online infrastructure to adapt and live up to the requirements and expectations of the African scholarly community. Through the building of an open, transparent, reliable, efficient and decentralized discoverability infrastructure, it is our aim to support the connectivity of African scholars – and African scholarship – to a wider audience.  As part of the near future plans, we intend to further diversify tools and applications to work along innovative, globally applicable standards and methodologies to accomplish our mission. 

The AfricArXiv team is looking forward to continuing our work along the following categories in collaboration with our network partner organisations in Africa and other world regions:

Financial sustainability

  • Reach a sustainable financial structure by trust of the African scholarly community

  • Partnering with funders and investors across Africa and around the world

Expanding our Open Access digital infrastructure 

  • Current partner repositories: Open Science Framework (OSF), Pubpub, ScienceOpen, Zenodo

  • Adding Figshare and PKP/OPS 

Interoperability of the digital scholarly infrastructure we create

  • Building integrations with ORCID, DataCite, CrossRef 

  • Seeking ROR and COAR membership

Meeting highest quality standards and research integrity

  • Quality control via submission moderation

  • Community-driven [Open] Peer Review with our partner organizations Decentralized Science, Qeios, ScienceOpen, PREreview, Peer Community in … (PCI)

Increasing networking and partnership building in the growing African Open Science Landscape

  • Liaising with African grassroots and institutional partners such as the African Open Science Platform (AOSP), AfricaOSH, regional RENs (WACREN, ASREN, UbuntuNet Alliance), EARMA, SARIMA, AfLIA and LIBSENSE

  • Establishing Institutional partnerships with 

    • African scholarly libraries and African universities and other Higher Education organisations

    • African studies departments, libraries, and associations outside Africa

    • Research related institutions, organisations, funders, and companies in Africa or elsewhere

Establishing AfricArXiv as a self-hosted Africa-based Open Access platform 

  • Five (5) or more host institutions with at least one host in each region of the continent, for details refer to 

  • Data analysis and statistics dashboard (number of users, locations, number of pre-prints, audio/video pre-prints, etc..)

Continuously and steadily increase discoverability of African research

Knowledge exchange, collaboration and scholarly networking between scholars in Africa and other world regions

  • With our partners Bobab, AfricaOSH, African Science Initiative (ASI), WACREN/LIBSENSE, Just One Giant Lab (JOGL), Psychological Science Accelerator, Institute for Globally Distributed Open Research and Education (IGDORE), eLearning Africa, Vilsquare Makers' Hub

Fostering Science Literacy across the continent

  • In collaboration with TCC Africa, African Science Literacy Network (ASLN), Under the Microscope, AfroScience Network, Science Communication Hub Nigeria (SciComNigeria), Pint Of Science Kenya 

Building capacity in Open Science practices and Open Access scholarly publishing

  • Providing training, workshops, consultancy services, lectures, scientific writing-sprints, calls for submissions, student assignments and other educative formats on OA scholarly publishing and Peer Review in collaboration with our partner organizations TCC Africa, Vilsquare, r0g_agency for open culture and critical transformation, Open Science MOOC, AuthorAid, Science For Africa, Access 2 Perspectives

  • Develop a self-hosted chatbot for community support and Q&A

Fostering [African] language diversity in scholarly communication

  • Encouraging submissions of scholarly works in traditional and official African languages

  • Providing guidelines and information for multilingualism in science in African languages

Encouraging collaboration between Indigenous Peoples and researchers

  • Highlighting the importance of indigenous knowledge in all disciplines

  • Legal aspects: assurance of self-determination, Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and compliance with UNDRIP

  • Providing guidelines and information on the inclusion of indigenous peoples in research project design, planning and implementation

Fostering gender equity in academia

  • Balancing gender equity across all scholarly disciplines 

  • Encouraging scholarly work on gender-related topics across disciplines



Contributing authors

Contact: [email protected] 

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