Global Research Report: Africa

Global Research Report: Africa

The nature and extent of research in Africa

This report provides an introduction to patterns of research activity in Africa. Its overall finding is that, whilst the volume of research activity on the continent as a whole remains small, individual countries are making notable and effective contributions of a high standard. 

The challenges that Africa faces are enormous and indigenous research could help provide both effective and focused responses. This research finds little corrolation between the amount and range of resources a country has at its disposal and the standard and volume of its research contributions. For example Malawi, with one-tenth the annual research output of Nigeria, produces research of a quality that exceeds the world average benchmark while Nigeria hovers around half that impact level.

Other findings include:

  • the North Africa network of collaboration is strong both in the activity of individual countries, notably Egypt, and the close collaboration between them that will help to address larger challenges - strong historical ties to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, ensure a high level of external input and links to European programmes while new links to Saudi Arabia and Japan provide the opportunity for participation in emerging networks elsewhere
  • the historical legacy of past ties is reflected in the collaborative networks associated with Francophone and Anglophone groups of nations - the Francophone group has the benefit of proximity in West Africa, the Anglophone group has good links to the USA and UK, and its common language base means that it already accesses and is exposed to the international community that uses English for research publication
  • the translation of the SADC regional economic grouping into a research network has not yet happened - South Africa is the outstanding research leader in the region, has by far the greatest research output of any country, and is thought to have the highest impact
  • there is a potential transformational role for specific countries - the report identifies a pair of axes, running between Egypt and South Africa and between Nigeria and Kenya, which engage a high proportion of Africa’s research and which link the rest of the continent in collaborative networks - the future of the African research enterprise depends to some significant extent on the ability of these countries to help facilitate further growth, through leadership, strong local investment and the creation and support of key facilities and centres to draw in and assist currently less well resourced partners.
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