Content Divide: Africa and the Global Knowledge Footprint Sponsored by: SIG/III Page: 1
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Content Divide: Africa and the Global Knowledge Footprint
Sponsored by: SIG/III
University at Albany
arorissaal bany.ed u
Daniel Gelaw Alemneh
Digital Libraries Services
University of North Texas
School of LIS
University of South
kendraa @mailbox.sc.ed u
The purpose of this panel is to discuss the global knowledge
output at a macro level with a view to understand key
inputs that foster scientific and research performance. Here,
knowledge production is limited to scientific and technical
journals and patent registrations to gauge the performance
of each region and continent the world over. Greater
emphasis will be placed to highlight important indicators
from the input side that help spur national research and
innovation systems in Africa. Defined here as "content
divide," panel members focus on key variables that help
build scientific and research capabilities of Africa. Closely
interrelated variables that will be discussed include (1)
access to the global knowledge base, (2) the role of higher
education systems (3) national, regional, and global
research and education networks (RENs); and (4) gross
expenditure on R&D (GERD).
Knowledge production, content divide, Africa, higher
education, innovation, SIG/III.
Africa is the second largest continent in the world, with a
population of a little over one billion living in about 54
countries. According to the fifth edition of the Guide to
higher education in Africa, (International Association of
Universities [IAU], 2010), there are 950 institutions of
higher education in 51 African countries. Not only is
Africa's scientific and technical performance very low
compared to other regions (King, 2004; May, 1997; Tussen,
2006; Teferra & Altbach, 2003), Africa also has limited
access to critical content/knowledge as evidenced by
limited or no subscription to scientific and technical
databases (Zulu, 2008). It is this limited access to the
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global knowledge base and at the same time very small
contribution to it that we constrain as "content divide."
S&T % of Patents % of
Continent Jnl Titles filed Patents
Africa 54 0.64 438 0.24 0.4
Asia 968 11.28 70,500 38.76 1.6
Europe 4134 48.55 56,134 30.86 1.6
Oceania 175 2.08 2,065 1.13 1.9
N. America 2966 35.2 51,519 28.32 2.6
S. America 173 2.26 1,205 0.66 0.6
8,470 100% 181,861 100%
Table 1. S&T journals, patent applications, and R&D
This bi-directional challenge has both an "input" and
"output" dimension to it. In order to understand the divide,
we used the number of (1) scientific and technical journals;
and (2) patent applications - as indicators of knowledge
production. Research and development (R&D) activities by
higher education systems and their affiliates together with
patent applications by universities and respective countries
are often cited as a barometer for the wellbeing of nations
scientific and innovation impact (king, 2004; May, 1997;
Powell & Snellman, 2004, p.202; Vincent-Lancrin, 2009).
Analysis of scientific and technical journals from ISI's
master journal list for science citation index that has 8470
titles are analyzed to provide a macro-level view of
research outputs by Africa in comparison to other regions.
Two additional datasets, i.e., data published by the Patent
Co-operation Treaty (PCT) regarding the number of patent
applications filed (World Intellectual property [WIPO],
2012) and another data from UNESCO Institute for
Statistics (2011) that show GDP devoted to R&D activities
(GERD), were juxtaposed to find a reasonable explanation
to serve as a starting point to discuss the content divide
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Assefa, Shimelis; Rorissa, Abebe; Alemneh, Daniel Gelaw & Albright, Kendra. Content Divide: Africa and the Global Knowledge Footprint Sponsored by: SIG/III, paper, October 2012; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc130186/m1/1/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .