The project for the revitalisation of Southern Africa’s higher education sector is dependent on, among other things, the capacity of the region’s universities to produce research, to communicate that research to a broad public audience and to use the research output in the process of educating future generations of graduates. Given this context, research output in the great majority of Southern African universities is barely visible.
While the introduction of new digital media may offer greater accessibility and expanded opportunities for the visibility of scholarly communication, this may be insufficient to meet the needs of the many scholars and other actors who seek to build on existing bodies of knowledge, whether to advance society or in order to create knowledge for its own sake.
This article reports the findings of two 2008 studies – The state of public science in the SADC region and Opening access to knowledge in Southern African universities. Working within a frame which understands knowledge produced in universities as a public good, this article examines the issues at play in terms of the productivity-visibility-accessibility of scholarly communications in regional higher education.
The conclusion discusses a possible approach to improve such productivity-visibility-accessibility, through the adoption of a strategic vision of open access to knowledge and through consideration of two breakthroughs pertinent to achieving a vision of revitalised higher education in the region.