Season 2 Ep 2 ️️️

17 November 2023 Categories: latest news, Mazungumzo Podcasts, News

Celebrating 20 Years of DOAJ! Advancing African Research and Open Access with insights from Prof. Kamel Belhamel, DOAJ Ambassador for North Africa


Africa, Journal, Language Diversity, Algeria, Open access, Open Science, North Africa, DOAJ, Higher education, Ambassador


This episode explores DOAJ’s efforts to collaborate with African countries, promoting accessibility, open access policies, and launching digital platforms as it celebrates its 20th year. We are joined by Prof. Kamel Belhamel, the DOAJ Ambassador for North Africa, who shares his insights on the representation of African journals in DOAJ, the complexities of language diversity and the role of open access in the African scholarly landscape.

Professor Kamel holds the position of Full Professor of Chemistry at the University of Bejaia, Algeria. Beyond his teaching role, he has been an Ambassador for North Africa with the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) since 2016 and is the Editor-in-Chief of the DOAJ-indexed Algerian Journal of Natural Products.

Here are key things to listen out for:

DOAJ Initiatives: Prof. Belhamel sheds light on the various initiatives undertaken by DOAJ to foster Open Access in Africa. Discover how DOAJ is actively engaging with policymakers, governments, and the academic community to promote affordable and accessible open-access journals.

Future Plans for Africa: Gain insights into DOAJ’s vision for the future of Open Access in Africa. Learn about upcoming webinars, conferences, and workshops aimed at advocating for open science and supporting the digital platforms essential for affordable open-access journals.

Challenges Faced by African Journals: Explore the challenges that African journals encounter on their journey to global visibility. From political and socio-economic obstacles to the need for enhanced digital infrastructure, understand how DOAJ is addressing these issues to bridge the gap.

Promotion of Local Languages: Dive into the discussion on DOAJ’s commitment to promoting local languages. Learn about ongoing projects, including the compilation of a glossary of open-access terms in Arabic, and explore the challenges and opportunities associated with integrating diverse African languages into the platform.

Cultural Significance: Understand the cultural importance of promoting local languages, not just as vernacular but as national and business languages. Prof. Belhamel emphasizes the need for associate editors to support the inclusion of national languages, ensuring a rich and diverse representation.




Welcome to Mazungumzo, African scholarly conversations, a podcast that highlights the perspectives of various stakeholders in academia, or research fields across Africa through open dialogue or Muslims on scholarly communication in Africa.

Joy Owango:

Welcome to Mazungumzo African scholarly conversations, where we are joined by an expansive list of African policymakers, science communication specialists, innovators, and tertiary institutional beads who contribute to this realm of science communication and scholarly communication. I’m your host Joy Owango, the Executive Director of Training Center and communication -TCC Africa a capacity building trust based at the University of Nairobi Chiromo campus in Nairobi, Kenya.


Today, we get the incredible opportunity to join in celebrating 20 years of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and explore its role in advancing open access and scholarly communication in Africa and its broader impact on open science.  DOAJ’s ambassador program in Africa has representation from key stakeholders from Eastern, Northern, Southern and Central Africa.   The ambassadors, work with communities around the world and help journal editors understand the importance of standards in open access publishing.


In light of this, we are delighted to be joined by Professor Kamel Belhamel. Professor Kamel holds the position of Full Professor of Chemistry at the University of Bejaia, Algeria. Beyond his teaching role, he has been an Ambassador for North Africa with the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) since 2016 and is the Editor-in-Chief of the DOAJ-indexed Algerian Journal of Natural Products. In addition to his editorial duties, he directs the Laboratory of Organic Materials at the University of Bejaia. With significant international experience in managing research projects and coordinating Algerian research initiatives, Professor Kamel Belhamel is a passionate advocate for open-access publishing, leaving a notable imprint in the fields of chemistry and natural products within both the Algerian and global academic communities.

A warm welcome to the programme Professor Kamel!

Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

Thank you very much Joy Owango. I am very proud to collaborate and join this podcast and to contribute in the Open Access movement in Africa. I’m an African, I’m proud to be African and of course, I am a teacher at the University of Bejaia. I got my PhD doctorate from the University of Setif so I am a pure product of an African, Algerian University. I’ve been involved in many trainings and collaboration efforts with the North, with universities in France, Italy, and Germany. So on why I started working on open access and on open science, I remember in 2010, this movement started in Africa, specifically in North Africa, where people started discussing about this new option of open access because of the transfer of technology as the you know. African countries have shown significant increase in scholarly publication in recent years but our position is relatively low compared to the other regions of the world. Our contribution to global scientific knowledge products is still relatively low.  According to the UNESCO Science Report, Africa accounts for only 1% of the world’s scientific publications.

 Joy Owango:

That’s true. Yeah.

Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

There is a very low commitment towards science, policy and infrastructure. So open access refers to the practice of making academic research readily available to anyone without restrictions, or payment barriers. This movement has gained momentum and interest in recent years, as I told you, because of the cost of academic journals. Traditionally, accessibility to research and dissemination of academic research was done through journals, books and other publications. Additionally, access to those publications required a subscription or payment. Open access challenges this model by making research freely available for all. In 2010, my PhD student and I sent our first publication to a journal in Turkey, working on advancement of open access in scholarly publications. Besides that, I started my own open-access journal in 2014, for which I am the editor-in-chief, called the Algerian Journal of Natural Products. Here I publish a lot of articles. I will share with you the link for this journal. Most of the articles published in the journal are from Africa, as the [Global] North doesn’t read what we are writing. A lot of people from the [Global] South especially from North Africa, prepare to publish their articles in the [Global] North because they need more visibility and more impact factors. Back when we started this initiative, in 2015, I participated in the National Meeting of editors-in-chief of Algerian open-access journals. This was initiated by the Ministry of Higher Education, and a new policy was started to funding the patented journal published by academia or the universities and to shift to open access. It means an electronic version not patented. So in 2015, this initiative started. In this conference, we invited Tom Olijhoek who’s now the Head of Outreach. Back then he was the editor- in-chief of DOAJ. During the meeting we discussed how to collaborate and advance open-access journals from Algeria and North Africa to be visible globally. A lot of things changed in this meeting. Our education ministry helped launch a platform of open-access journals. In 2016, I started my tenure as DOAJ Ambassador for North Africa, \ and participated in many events to advance open access movement in North Africa and also in Middle East. There is also a group that I manage with individuals from Africa and France.


In September 2018, I participated in a project about Creating Global Cognitive Justice. The project was funded by the University of North Carolina to explore the language, access and epistemological barriers that put the equity, diversity and inclusiveness of OA scholarly communication at risk in Africa and other areas in the Global South. I have also been part of many trainings as a collaborative effort with associate DOAJ Ambassadors. There’s the Southern Africa ambassador, Ms. Ina Smith, Melkamu Beyene the ambassador for East Africa, Mahmoud Khalifa – Egypt/Middle East and Thomas Herve Mboa Nkoudou from West and Central Africa. There are also many associate editors from Algeria, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia.



Joy Owango:

I have another question for you. I like that, you’ve given us the history of how you started, how you got interested in and found yourself getting interested in open access, and most importantly, how you became an ambassador for North Africa, and this was since 2016. Now as an ambassador, and also now you’re also a managing editor at DOAJ. you’ve had a unique vantage point into the global open-access community, and this is something you’re sharing with us. But what have you observed as a notable change in terms of the uptake and outputs of scholarly works in Africa? Yes, we unfortunately agreed that we as Africa, contribute at least 1% of our research output into the global knowledge economy, and that is not good. But since the growth and the creation of DOAJ and its impact in Africa, what do you think is the notable change you’ve noted in scholarly works in Africa? How do you think DOAJ is responding to the changing landscape of open-access scholarly communication and scholarly publishing? Take me through that.


Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

Okay, thank you. So maybe we should start with the why, and how we are increasing DOAJ coverage in Africa. DOAJ actively encourages African open-access journal to be listed. I’ll have to give you some statistics to know exactly what the gap is. We also provide webinars to help the publishers to meet the requirements of DOAJ, because as you know, the criteria is made by the North and there is often lack of information on this. Most of editor- in-chiefs in African journals are volunteers— I am the editor- in-chief of an open access journal, but I’m volunteering for this job, I don’t get any compensation. This is something we do only for science. Why index journals in DOAJ? Of course it’s to meet the good publishing standards.  A lot of journals from Africa have low quality, they don’t know the best practices or good publishing standards which attract authors and readers both locally and from around the world. When you index your journal, you will be very visible globally and can also index journals published in the local language. At DOAJ, we index journals in any language. There is no preference for a specific language say English, French or Arabic. We cover journals in French, English, Portuguese and all major local languages. We are now promoting how to index journals in local languages. This is to increase their discoverability on search engines and indexing services, which I think is a good thing for African Journals as it enhances their reputation and social impact. DOAJ is being recognized by government like in Ethiopia and South Africa. In South Africa it has been placed on . In Africa we’re working closely with African Journals Online (AJOL), Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF), EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries), LIBSENSE (Library Support for Embedded NREN Services and E-infrastructure), WACREN (West and Central African Research and Education Network which is based in Accra, incubation of the regional network started at the Africa Network Operation Group (AfNOG) in 2006, to promote and establish interconnection between national research and education networks.

I will give you some statistics about African Journal coverage in DOAJ, I gathered these statistics only two days ago. There are now 20000 journals indexed in DOAJ, which we reached two days ago and I found that out of the 54 countries in Africa, there are only 426 African Journals listed in DOAJ.

That represents 2.1%. It’s very low. I can share with you the list of countries.


Joy Owango:


Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

For North Africa, we have Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, with 216 journals. In South Africa, we have 140 journals.

Joy Owango:

That is Southern Africa.

Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

Yeah, so for the rest of Africa there are only 70 journals, most journals indexed are from South and North Africa. (…overlapping audio…) We need to promote and help by launching initiatives for journals, especially in those regions not covered by DOAJ and that’s the role of the ambassador. The ambassadors need to create face to face meetings with editors from University faculties to promote and launch new journals, and explain the benefits of open access, because as you know, open access is very important for Africa.

For example, I published an article last year with a bigger publisher, a commercial publisher. By the end of publishing, this article was not open access, they asked me to download my own article for $35. I had to pay! So, this is a very big opportunity for Africa to be visible globally. In the meantime, there is a technology transfer from the North to Africa, because as you know Africa is very rich. We have all the necessary minerals, land, it’s a very rich continent, but we need to be we need some transfer technology to improve our education. (…overlapping audio…)


Joy Owango:

Listening to you, we are saying that DOAJ in this 20th year hit the 20,000 mark with 20,000 journals, and that is such a huge milestone, and they’ve been getting journals for over 130 countries, and submissions from over 80 countries. You just gave some very interesting statistics because we wanted to see the growth and its contribution in Africa. We’re looking at 426 African journals indexed in DOAJ, the bulk of them coming from Northern and Southern Africa, Eastern, Central and Western Africa. They’re not so many. But the reality is, even as institutions, what I see DOAJ has done, it has really supported in creating the journal publishing standards whereby guiding editors on how they can produce good quality journals. So, even the 426 African journals that we are seeing that are within DOAJ have also aided in increasing the visibility of African research outputs. So, it is possible to produce good quality journals there is already a benchmark set by these 426 African journals that other African publishers can learn from so that they can be indexed in DOAJ. Hopefully with time, and I’ll be excited for it, we can hit the 1000 mark. The day there are 1000 African journals indexed in DOAJ, it means that we are actively not only producing research, but we are disseminating it and we are producing those journals. Now we understand what is needed to produce good quality journals and I believe that is the strength of the ambassador program.

So now we’ve talked about the milestones and the number of journals within the platform. Let’s talk about the financial bit, this tends to be a bit uncomfortable, mainly, because when it comes to finance, the question is, who pays for open access? How can how can organizations be sustainable, when we adopt the Open Access practices? When it comes to open access, how can financial support be harnessed to ensure the thriving open access initiatives in Africa and what strategies can be employed to engage governments more actively. I’ll add a caveat. Both of us are from Africa. I’m from Eastern Africa, you’re from North Africa. The governments act differently when it comes to supporting research. Now, the question is, for those of us who are in the higher education sector, as we are pushing for open access, should we only look to the government to support open access? Because we want the government to be involved in supporting open access. But should we look to other sectors to support open access? Because open science really is for society, So take me through your views on this.


Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

Yeah, I will share with you our experience especially from the North Africa, for example, in Algeria. Most university in Africa are public, in Algeria, 100% of the universities are public.

The universities are 100%, free of charge. In those public university, students in pay fees annual fees at an amount of only $2. So, Algeria, puts about 30% of the budget for education. (…inaudible…) All our scholars are publicly funded including the Open Access infrastructure. As I told you, we launched in 2018, we launched the Algerian Scientific Journals Platform. In this platform, there are actually about 800 open access journal, and those journal are funded by the government, so the support is from the government but it’s forbidden to ask for APC’s, it’s forbidden to charge the authors. All those journals are free. So initiatives in North Africa, include the Algerian Scientific Journals Platform (ASJP) in Algeria, there is also another initiative in Morocco, (…inaudible…), in which there are about 250 open access journals and there is also another initiative in Egypt called the Egyptian Knowledge Bank (EKB) with about 900 journals. In total North Africa, has about 1900 open access journals on those four platforms. But the problem from this is that of the 1900 journals, only 200 are indexed as had been mentioned in the DOAJ statistics. So, that represents also 2%, which is very little. Why? Its because of some challenges, for example in my journal, there is a difficulty in having manuscripts from Algerian PhD students. This is because, according to the Algerian education policy to defend your theses, you have to publish in a journal with a high impact factor, and most African and Algerian journals don’t have a high impact factor. It’s a big issue for us, we need to be visible and cannot be visible without impact. There are hardly any citations with big journal with high impact factors. This gap has resulted in low visibility and most journal are not listed in the International Citation Index. Hence our role to encourage more journals on DOAJ. As you know, for example, to be indexed in Scopus, or Web of Science, you have to be indexed in DOAJ, so we have begun to have a lot of applications from Africa.


Another challenge is the lack of financial support for academic publishers. As I told you, most of editorial board member of the of the journal are volunteers. The government can support by sharing or hosting the journal and managing or giving an office in the university or in academia or (…audible…) but, in the case of Algeria, all journals without the Article Publication Charge (APC’s) are free and we’re in discussions with the government to get some compensation. For example, as the editor in chief, I need to support, I cannot stay all the time volunteering, we can volunteer for a period for two years, four years, five years or alternating. So, the lack of financial support is a big gap for almost all the journals from Africa. The support is still very low. We get very low funding to manage the journal, but there is no compensation for staff. Also, publishing high quality journals needs best practices thus there needs to be an upscaling of the editorial board and technical staff to share our experience and knowledge on the North on promotion of these high-quality journals. Another gap of is irregularity of journal publications. Some journals start publishing then disappear because as I said, they have financial problems or the governments have small financial  (…inaudible…). The other gap is the lack of of coordination between an institution and the country. So, every country works alone, there is no regional coordination or collaboration to share the knowledge. We started with WACREN to collaborate with the North Africa Universities and open access journals.


The other thing is the slow internet speed in Africa. When we talk about scholarly publication, about open access, the limited access to computer computing capacity especially in rural regions and storage capacity for research is a gap for those journals. We don’t have the same speed of internet like the North, so that can contribute for the low quality of those journals. Many academic institutions may not be familiar with the open source. As you know most of the journal systems are managed by open source, open journal system (OJS) for free. So, it’s an opportunity for African journals to work with this open source to promote the quality of their journal, because a lot of journals in Africa are WordPress; are static, with the old version of HTML WordPress. They cannot manage their journal like open-source software or OJS. OJS can help the editors and the editor-in-chief to promote the visibility of their journals and also help improve the quality of their journals. So, this is what I have


Joy Owango:

From what I can understand when it comes to the financial support, yes, you’ve shared with us what is happening in Algeria, in Egypt, some of these examples where the governments have contributed to supporting open access. It’s happening also in South Africa, but it’s also not happening in Eastern and Central Africa. It’s a bit of a challenge, and you’re sharing some innovative ways in which the government can support. First of all, those who choose to publish, let them start using open-source publishing platforms like the Open Journal system (OJS), and governments should come up with innovative compensation schemes, especially for editors. It might not be a lot but it’s a way to begin the process on contributing and financially supporting publishers. At least to have some type of compensation scheme for the editors because what they’re doing is volunteering to be editor but then you also mentioned the fact that one of the biggest challenges is the technical ecosystem. Where we live as a continent, our internet is slow, internet speeds are slow. But this is now where even as for those of us in the scholarly communication ecosystem, we need to cross over from higher education and look at industry and see how we can work together, especially when it comes to supporting, improving and increasing the bandwidth of productivity, especially in the higher education sector. So, that the publishing platforms that are embedded online can be easily accessible, and the whole publishing ecosystem can be, easy to work with.


From what I gather, you’re looking at innovative financial scheme support systems that a government can come up with, an industry can come up with, rather than just directly giving money, we need to look at how they can innovatively come up with financial solutions in kind or compensation wise, so that it can support the data, so that it can support open access. I like the way you’re thinking because sometimes we tend to look at the government and say, ‘give us money’, or look at industry and say, ‘give us money’, instead of looking at what innovative ways can we work on together so that you can meet halfway. Whether it’s going to be in kind support, or compensation wise, so that it is acknowledging the beginning of a support system to the point that we can be mature enough as what Algeria is going through, or even what Egypt is going through, or even what South Africa is going through. I think it’s just looking at the big picture and showing how they can benefit from this because as I keep on saying Open science is for society. Let’s work together to support this ecosystem. Some might give you cash, but some can give you some type of compensation, or in kind supposed to help grow that ecosystem. So, I like that. Thank you so much for those comments.


So, Africa, being a big continent with 54, not country, everyone, big continent, with over 54 countries with over 2000 tribes and sub tribes. It’s extremely diverse. And because of that, thanks to the African Union, we have integration languages. We have French, Arabic, English, Portuguese, and now most recently, Swahili. These are the African Union languages. What is the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) doing to promote the African Union and local languages within its platform?



Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

In 2018, we started a project with an international group of 5 persons from Burkina Faso, France, Holland and Canada. The project was to create a global community of justice and to discuss about how to scientific research is not just about advancing knowledge, but also to looking at those local languages and promoting them. This project was launched by DOAJ with team members, Zoé Aubierge Ouangré and Zakari Lire from Burkina Faso, Aurélie Fichot from France, Florence Piron from Laval University and myself. In this project we discussed Language, knowledge sharing and Open Access. Two major problems encountered in global scholarly publication are Cognitive injustice linked to language hegemony because, as you know English is the most used language in scholarly publications. In this project we also explored the language access and epistemological barrier that puts the equity, diversity and inclusion of open access scholarly communication at risk in Africa and other areas. As you know the difficult situation of knowledge production and open access in Africa is the lack of access to the local language, some people have also started promoting these.


I’m also a member of the Creative Commons Algeria chapter I am global representative to the global network of the Creative Commons and I was chapter lead for Creative Commons. In this group we also promote the diversity and local language to be saved. DOAJ can promote some local journals by indexing them and aid in the visibility of African Science. As you know, another challenge is that for example, the Arabic language, the writing and transcription differ greatly. Last week we started to compile a glossary of open access words from English to Arabic to be launched next week at the forum for open research in Abu Dhabi, which I will contribute to. We found many discrepancies. The meaning of one word for example the meaning of open access- we started this in the community because we have the Arab Community of Open Access and the (…inaudible…) congress, and will be online by the end of this month. Open Access can be translated in ten words in Arabic. The problem with the local language first is computing. How to introduce these local languages in the system because, with open access you need to be online. This needs funding from UNESCO or other initiatives in this subject. This is a big barrier. Our possibility to have more languages in DOAJ, as you know we have 80 languages.


Joy Owango:

Yes, I saw that. There are 80 different languages.



Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

We need the more languages. We are a signatory of multi-language initiatives to promote local language and not only English. We are signatories of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and also advocacy for impact (…inaudible….). to contribute to publishing scholarly knowledge in a common in local language can promote open access so yes, we need more languages and not only French


Joy Owango:

French is a bit of a low hanging fruit. Yes.


Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

In North Africa and also English in the in the rest of Africa.


Joy Owango:

I get your concerns, because when I began this question, I was looking at Africa from, the diversity of languages and what you’ve brought out, is that, even from the diversity of language is meaning when you translate a word. For example, when you say it in Arabic, there are different words that represent Open Access, about eight different words represent open access. So as much as we are pushing for a diversity of languages within DOAJ, we have to be very conscious of the existing diversity of our national languages, because when you translate them into English, or vice versa, they mean different things. There’s a bit of a balance that needs to be created. With that said, when you look at DOAJs’ contribution in promoting local languages, at least the African Union integration languages, French is within DOAJ, there is Portuguese. What I’d like a confirmation on, is there Arabic? Are there Arabic journals?


Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

We have a lot of journals in Arabic from the middle eastern countries, Algeria, Iraq, Egypt and Syria

Put on from here from Algeria. We have indexed many journals from Syria and the from Middle East because the national language is Arabic. As I told you, Arabic is now becoming prominent because of initiative from countries in the Middle East. Local languages from for example, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda or so, can also become visible globally through open access journals because it’s free.



Joy Owango:

Going back to the languages, we are seeing representation with Arabic journals is Algeria and Egypt, which also means that other Arabic speaking countries in Africa can use that as a benchmark because Arabic is an African Union language. My other question was that is there Swahili in it? Swahili journals, because Tanzania is where Swahili comes from, but it is also the integration language for the Eastern and Central African community. So, if there is, even if there’s one or two journals, it means that other countries, other institutions that are producing journals in Swahili can work from that.


Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

In our data base, we currently have only one journal from Tanzania.


Joy Owango:

In Swahili?


Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

No, I think not.


Joy Owango:

In DOAJ’s defense, Swahili has always been an integration language, but then it was recognized as an African rather than an African Union language. It was recently recognized as a UNESCO, international recognized language just in the same league as French and the other international integration languages, but that is not a problem. But what that means, for those listening, is that yes, DOAJ is pushing for inclusivity of a diversity of local languages, particularly the African Union languages, Swahili journals, know this is something that will be in the pipeline will also be included within DOAJ making it complete because of all the African Union languages what is left is Swahili. So there is French, Arabic, Portuguese,and what is missing is Swahili, which is definitely in the pipeline. And you mentioned something that piqued my interest. You said that you want to look beyond the African integration languages you want to look at the national languages, especially from countries where their national language is their business language. So for example, Ethiopia with Amharic, Rwanda, with Kinyaruanda, and countries like Nigeria, where they have some of the largest population of one language, in this case, Yoruba. What is DOAJ planning to do in increasing accessibility of some of the journals that are actually written in these national languages. They should not be seen as vernacular, but they should be seen as national and also business languages of the respective country.


Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

Okay, thank you. I just looked at the Tanzania journal and it is published in English, unfortunately, it is not in Swahili. Ethiopia and Nigeria, because I told you that there are 70 open access journals, Nigeria has 23 and Ethiopia 11.


Joy Owango:

Are they in English?


Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

All are in English. For the moment, I haven’t seen a journal in Swahili because when we apply for application, of course, why we have the DOAJ in the region, I mean, that the editor in chief needs to, know the local language, I mean, that I have to review article journal in English, Arabic and in French language. What we have in Jordan is a local associate editor to review articles in journals, in the local language, Swahili language needs an ambassador for the journals because I think Tom has been having meetings since September on how to promote accessibility and open access in Nigeria and they and during the meeting they asked to have some ambassador with local language or associate editor. For example, Constance, an associate editor from Nigeria learned some local languages. Associate editors can help us to review some journals in local language, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Kenya have 66 journals, but the rest only one or two. Angola has 4, Ghana also has 7 but all in English, in Cameroon, the local language is French.


Joy Owango:

That’s okay, I like the way you’re saying that the ways to now get to that process other than the project that you’re working on and including other languages is also including associate editors who will be involved and supporting and promoting the publishing of local languages so that we can have, instead of calling them local languages, I like using the word national language, because to the world, it is a local language, it is seen as vernacular. But in essence, it’s actually a national language and in some countries/ business language, as well. In such situations, it would be nice to have an associate editor at least, who is promoting those National/Business Languages, as well. So that by the time we are looking at indexing journals in African national languages. We have somebody who can support or a team of those who can support within the DOAJ ecosystem. Now, as we are winding up, this has been a very interesting conversation. I’ve really enjoyed this. As we’re winding up, I want you to look ahead and tell me what is DOAJ’s for developing countries, particularly Africa to further promote open access, ensure inclusivity and equal participation? What new opportunities do you envision as a result of this? What is the future for Africa, especially when it comes to promoting equity?


Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

At the beginning as we saw, only 426 African journals out of 20,000 are indexed in DOAJ. So, a lot needs to be done in Africa. We are starting with webinars, conferences, workshop, congresses to push the policymakers and governments in these countries to promote open access ad launch digital platforms to help more affordable open access journals and defend those journals with global initiatives because some foundations in North can help. I’m an advisory board member of DIAMAS and CRAFT-OA that promote Diamond Open Access Journals and Diamond Open Access is a new business model that is also being funded by these foundations. But these foundations are in the North. In our preview meeting, I asked how to help African open access journals to be funded. So, we are looking to some initiative also to push government to launch or promote open access and open science. Of course, due to political instability of some African countries, they cannot contribute at the moment to promote those open access and open the science, but the priority is for education. We need our identity. The African need to be beat by African.


Joy Owango:

Oh, yes. Oh, yes, that’s true.


Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

So, those contributions can help to ensure the success of science and education for all. The political or socio-economic problems in most of the African journals make it hard for their journals to be visible globally. So, DOAJ can contribute to promote open access in Africa by collaboration. Of course, we have associate editors volunteering to contribute for science, and we are here to offer promising pathways towards a better access to knowledge and participating in international academic’s sphere.

So, we need the more visibility for Africa, and more connections with the North. We have no complexities, we have the capacity to do things well but we need to adjust, we need to update, we need to be online. Now there is a lot on artificial intelligence, but a lot of our things are not on the digital cloud, as you know artificial intelligence is tools and programs looking for only what is digitalized in the cloud or the data centres or data cites. If we don’t have those capacities or have not digitalized the national language, what has been done in Africa. The gap of open access is an opportunity, it’s the future. Artificial intelligence relies on the cloud, the data centres, electronic infrastructure, but if any of the infrastructure is not promote in Africa. We will lose out this way.


Joy Owango:

That’s true.



Prof. Belhamel Kamel:

It’s the future and the future is Artificial Intelligence. Its a revolution. We need to accelerate Open Access and Open Science in African countries, in order to be more visible with this new technology of Artificial Intelligence. If you are not connected, say because the computer doesn’t know anything about you. I told you, there are 1100, Open Access journals, but it’s only visible for Africa, for Algeria but not visible for the North. This accessibility can promote the open access in African countries.


Joy Owango:

So, from what you’re saying is that we need to increase our journals from 426 to more, you need to be much more active with our ambassador program, and also maybe our outreach activities with webinars to make sure that we have more Africans getting aware of what DOAJ can support and most importantly, is accommodating technology. So, using AI, taking advantage of AI to aid in increasing the visibility of African journals, and how they can support in the production to the whole process to the point that it is finally indexed and it increases the visibility of African journals. I can’t think of a better way to wind up with that. In some of the African Union languages, Shukran in Arabic, Asante Sana in Swahili, and thank you so much for making time to be with us.


Prof. Kamel Belhamel:

Thank you, Joy. I am very happy to meet you and maybe we will have another opportunity to discuss, face to face. I think sharing and being open is in the African culture. (…overlapping audio…) Being open is not new for us, so we need to promote our goodness and show this positive side of Africa.



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