In order to accelerate Africa’s growth and development, the continent needs to focus on research publication. Africa requires investment in its people, current systems, and research infrastructure. There exists a big knowledge gap in Africa, which can be attributed to the lack of academic publishing by African academics. The United States, China and Germany dominate when it comes to countries’ publishing output of scholarly articles. Africa’s research output accounts for less than 1% of the global output, producing around 30000 papers a year – which is roughly what The Netherlands produces annually. Despite this, it is important to note that Africa has the strongest growing scientific production and the number of authors grew at a rate of 43% when studied over a 5 year period (ending in 2016). Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia are the main contributors within Africa when it comes to scientific production outputs.
Strong leadership and local investment are important drivers for research output. There is a need for more support, in order for African researchers to get their work noticed in the global sphere. We need to push universities, research foundations, and professionals to publish their work in accredited journals. This will be beneficial for the researcher, the institution hosting the journal, as well as the specific field in which the research is being generated. The more research is published, the greater the access to information. Publishing research is necessary for contributing and adding value to the field; it is crucial in advancing the knowledge and application of that knowledge within the field.
As more Africans publish their research, African representation in global academia will also increase, contributing to African empowerment. When it comes to discussing, analyzing, or interpreting issues in Africa – we need to use more perspectives and data that is generated by African voices. Food security, poverty, climate change, water sanitation and infrastructure development are a few of the current challenges the continent faces. With more research being published, we will have easier access to more localized data. This means the continent will have more reliable information and insights to draw from, in order to work on solutions to tackle these pressing challenges. By refocusing the need to publish research, the knowledge gap that exists on African markets will also begin to narrow, enhancing the potential for new investment opportunities. Lack of data on the various African markets, or information that is difficult to access, can create a big barrier for foreign investment in Africa. There is a need for a change in the narrative, for a stronger African presence when it comes to research. The knowledge exists; we just need to place more emphasis on publishing these valuable insights.