Access to appropriate scholarly information can play a positive role in the development of African countries. Institutional repositories (IRs) have the potential to enhance access and sharing of research-based information generated in Africa. Developing IRs is a consequence of the internet’s fundamental influence on the availability and distribution of scholarly information. IRs were instituted to optimise open access of scholarly information that can be freely distributed on the internet. The perception is that the IRs are not embraced in Africa as a valuable tool as the case is in other regions of the world. Research carried over to explore the reasons for the perceived little development and exploitation of IRs in Africa is limited. The purpose of this paper is to report on a survey that attempted to identify the obstacles and challenges regarding IRs in African academic institutions.
A webometric approach and online semi-structured questionnaires filled in by IR managers or people responsible for IR management were used to collect data for this study. Responses were received from 26 respondents.
The major obstacles were identified as inadequate funding or financial support, lack of support from institutional management and lack of awareness of IRs at institutional management level.
The study selected only IR managers or people responsible for IR management and administration in different African academic institutions with existing IRs as respondents. Other people in these institutions might have valuable knowledge about issues regarding the IRs in their institutions from whom no data were collected.
Based on the findings, the paper recommends strategies on how African academic institutions could increase the number of IRs and improve the utilisation of IRs in the continent.
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