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ilissAfrica » Help & Tools » Open Access Guide for researchers in Africa

Open Access Guide for researchers based in Africa: Cheap or free Access to Databases and E-Journals

More information and further projects:

Open Access portals:

  • OAIster
    OAIster is a union catalog of digital resources not only on Africa. It provides access to these digital resources by "harvesting" their descriptive metadata (records) using OAI-PMH (the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting).
  • Connecting-Africa, ASC Leiden
    It provides access to digital resources (full-text of publications) by "harvesting" their descriptive metadata (records) using OAI-PMH (the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) in about 95 institutional repositories.
  • Infothèque francophone
    The catalogue shows electronic full-text resources relating to francophone countries.
  • Scientific African
    A non-profit organization founded at Witten/Herdecke University in Germany; it aims at disseminating scientific content from Africa and to enhance the visibility and accessibility of African scholarly material on the Internet. Today they admit that these goals have not been achieved.

Cheap or free access to databases and e-journals:

  • JSTOR African Access Initiative
    The African Access Initiative eliminates archival journal fees on JSTOR across all of Africa.
  • Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA)
    Provides free access to more than 3000 journals to institutions in eligible developing countries. AGORA is part of Research4Life that provides developing countries with free or low cost access to academic and professional peer-reviewed content online.
  • International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP)
    Different Programmes, e.g. for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI). INASP negotiates affordable, sustainable access Licences; Publishers provide low-price access to high-value content; Countrywide access available to not-for-profit Institutes; No cost at point of use; Access to over 11,000 full text journals; extensive bibliographic database information.
  • Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI)
    Free access to more than 13,000 journals and 29,000 e-books (in 30 different languages) to health institutions in more than 100 countries, areas and territories. The HINARI program is set up by WHO together with major publishers. HINARI is part of Research4Life that provides developing countries with free or low cost access to academic and professional peer-reviewed content online.
  • POPLINE - Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project,
    contains citations with abstracts to scientific articles, reports, books, and unpublished reports in the field of population, family planning, and related health issues. They provide free full-text copies of documents cited in its database to individuals and organizations in developing countries.
    TEEAL, or The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library, is a full-text and searchable database of articles from more than 325 high-quality research journals in agriculture and the related sciences. Beginning with the 2012 Update of the collection, which accounts for the redesign of both the TEEAL hardware and software, the collection arrives on a "mini computer" that you can run on one computer workstation or make available to multiple computers via your Local Area Network (LAN) or intranet.
  • GDN Journal Service
    Provides researchers working in developing countries with free access to a range of journals services through GDNet; e.g. "Free Journal Access Portal from Project MUSE".
  • HighWire Press
    List of journals offering free online access to developing economies, based on either programs such as HINARI or AGORA, or on a HighWire-based program offering access to countries appearing in the World Bank's list of "low income economies," plus Angola.
  • Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress)
    Journals freely available to researchers in the developing world.
  • eifl
    EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) works with libraries to enable access to knowledge for education, learning, research and sustainable community development.
  • Oxford Journals Developing Countries Initiative
    Provides free and greatly reduced online access to many of our journals (e.g. Journal of African Economies) for low income countries.


  • Sabinet's Full Open Access Journal Collection
    The collection comprises 44 South African journals, which may be searched individually, and provides immediate access to the PDF versions of 6 000+ full-text articles.
  • SciELO: Scientific Electronic Library Online - South Africa
    The Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) SA  is South Africa’s premier open-access (free to access and free to publish) searchable full-text journal database in service of the South African research community. The database covers a selected collection of peer-reviewed South African scholarly journals.
  • Africa, International African Institute
    From June 2008 free electronic access is available to libraries and non-profit research and educational institutions in Africa.
  • BioMed Central
  • Public Library of Science (PLoS)
  • Directory of Open Access Journals
    Free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals, covering all subjects and many languages.


  • African Digital Library
    Free access to more than 8,000 E-Books in Africa, based on the NetLibrary of OCLC.
  • AfricaPortal
    The Digital Library holds over 5,000 digital documents including research reports, occasional papers and policy briefs by institutions like ACODE, AISA, ARI, ACCORD, AERC, EISA, IPSS, ISS, ICG, and many more.
  • HSRC Press
    South African open access publisher committed to the dissemination of high quality social science research based publications, in print and electronic form. The Press publishes the research output of the Human Science Research Council and externally authored works.
  • University of California Press
    UC Press E-Books Collection, 1982-2004, includes more than 700 titles, that are available to the public.
  • Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD)
    Sources to find electronic theses and dissertations.
  • BLDS Digital Library
    Full-text copies of developing country research from the shelves of the British Library for Development Studies (BLDS), e.g. reports and working papers of the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi.
  • Open Library
    This website offers many free e-books also on Africa.
  • Ebook and Texts Archive by the Internet Archive
    This sub-site of the Internet Archive offers access to many e-books (often older books that have free copyright / public domain).
  • World Digital Library – Africa
    The Library of Congress and UNESCO offer more than 300 digitized original sources concerning Africa, be it old manuscripts, books, photographs, pictures or maps.
  • Sudan Open Archive
    The Rift Valley Institute offers a large collection of ebooks and full text documents about and from Sudan, also including some videos, maps and pictures.
  • Gallica - Voyages En Afrique
    Part of the digital library of the National Library in France, Gallica’s “Voyages en Afrique” includes 900 documents, 30 journals, 80 maps, about 20 hours of recordings and 6,500 photographs.

Regional and local institutional repositories:

Free bibliographical databases:

  • Quarterly Index of African Periodical Literature / AfricaBib
    former LoC Nairobi database has articles published in over 300 Journals from African countries, now within AfricaBib having >200,000 articles & links in over 500 Journals.
  • African Journals Online (AJOL)
    ToCs and Abstracts of >490 journals published in Africa, 186 journals of these are Open Access.
  • African e-Journals Project (AEJP)
    Full-text access to eleven scientific e-journals, ToC of more than 100 journals in Africa [archive not maintained from 2010 on].
  • Persée - Portail de Revues Scientifiques en Sciences Humaines et Sociales
    Persée is a program which was created for the digital publication of scientific journals in the field of the humanities (e.g. Cahiers d'Études africaines). The entire printed collection of journals is digitized and published online through a portal which offers access to the collections.
    To search many of the world’s online historic newspapers.

Books for Africa:

  • Books for Africa
    Collects, sorts, ships, and distributes books to children in Africa.
  • The International Book Bank
    The International Book Bank increases literacy and advances education by procuring and shipping books and other educational materials to developing countries.
  • Canadian Organization for Development through Education (CODE)
    Supports libraries and teacher training as well as national and local book publishing in about 20 languages in Africa and the Caribbean.
  • Biblionef
    Biblionef provides global aid for the development of children in disadvantaged areas, who have hardly or no access to reading material.
  • Friends of African Village Libraries
    The organization funds twelve small rural libraries in four different countries. They do not generally need used books, but they do important focused work to improve access to books in African villages.
  • Worldreader - Books for all
    Wants to make digital books available to all in the developing world. A pilot project was initiated in Ghana.
  • Book Aid International
    increases access to books and supports literacy, education and development in sub-Saharan Africa. Provide new books to partner libraries.
  • Libraries Across Africa / Librii
    build physical and digital customizable public libraries.
  • African Library Project
    Coordinates book drives in the United States and partners with African schools and villages to start small libraries.

Infrastructure (making the internet accessible in local area networks and other tools):

  • Wider Net / eGranary Digital Library
    Plug-and-play servers providing instant access to millions of digital documents without the need of a connection to the Internet). The eGranary Digital Library provides millions of digital educational resources to institutions lacking adequate Internet access.
  • Open Journal Systems
    Open Journal Systems (OJS) is a journal management and publishing system that has been developed by the Public Knowledge Project through its federally funded efforts to expand and improve access to research.
  • WikiAfrica
    WikiAfrica is a collaborative and international project designed to africanize Wikipedia through networks, research, projects, publications, and events. WikiAfrica contributes to Wikimedia projects online and offline with texts, quotes, images, audio and video.
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