Experiences from Malawi

#inaspPrinciples 1 & 2: understanding country context and negotiating with consortium

Since publishing the INASP Principles for Responsible Engagement, many INASP partners have offered perspectives on the principles. Contributors will be kept anonymous; these are the views of several people.

“In Malawi the biggest challenge is connectivity. The fibre optic network is just coming in from the sea coast. However the costs have not yet decreased enough, so institutions are still struggling to have adequate bandwidth for access to e-resources.”

“Malawi, in certain ways, is in a similar position to Kenya and probably other countries where there is lack of good network infrastructure in up and coming institutions to support access to e-resources. While publishers may see an opportunity in the increasing number of institutions of higher learning, they should be aware of the challenges that these institutions face.”

“The role national research and education networks (NRENs) play in this area is very important.

However the Malawi Research and Education Network has not yet managed to get the required investment for connection to the Africa Connect Project, which specifically targets research and educational networks. At present the monthly cost of 1 megabyte per second is around US$4000. Price reduction is the only way access to e-resources will be meaningful.”

“Bandwidth challenges are regional. In the sub-Saharan and land-locked countries access to the coastal cables has many challenges. These range from lack of capital investment to get the cables up and running to issues surrounding vandalism, which greatly affect access.”

“Publishers are in business and African libraries are in a fix as there is no indication that e-resources are likely to become less expensive. However, libraries in developing countries need solutions that will let publishers continue offering their services with as much content and service as possible. Libraries in developing countries need flexible pricing that offers customers real options, including the ability to reduce expenditures without loss of content. Library consortia are also negotiating for standardized pricing and terms that may ensure that the libraries are not under pressure to increase their outlays or cut their services.”

“Furthermore, although there is increased intake of students in universities, this does not directly translate to more income generation by institutions because as the institutions grow, challenges follow suit. Budget constraints, for instance, are a reality for old and new institutions. Collective purchasing of things, e-resources included, makes even more sense today than yesterday. The market for e-resources could best be built around consortia rather than separate institutions.”

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Experiences from Nicaragua

#inaspPrinciples 1 & 2: understanding country context and negotiating with consortium

Since publishing the INASP Principles for Responsible Engagement, many INASP partners have offered perspectives on the principles. Contributors will be kept anonymous.

“One of the characteristics that make the consortium in Nicaragua stand out is that it brings together all the university members of the National Council of Universities (CNU) and that the actions of the consortium are coordinated from this national body. This type of consortium is unique in Central America. Despite that fact that we are a small region, the legal and political contexts are different, although we do share the same objectives and problems associated with budgetary issues and the poor research culture in Central America.

“A relevant issue to highlight in terms of learning about our country is the necessity of mastering the language.  It is also important to establish contact and relationships with members of the consortium. These two steps should be permanent undertakings from publishers because building relationships with the consortium will lead to a better understanding of the market, and, for the consortium, it will give us the necessary information to achieve our objectives.

“In Nicaragua the institutional budget is a major weakness and threat for many.  When working as a consortium there are better opportunities for purchasing information resources; member institutions’ opportunities are equalized – those with higher budgets and those with more restricted budgets. It implies that everyone undertakes the same responsibilities in the achievement of the budget and policy advocacy, strengthening the universities, and, in the end, the country.

“It is possible to identify an ‘opportunistic agent’ and in the context of this market you know that it happens very often. When an agent negotiates with individual institutions the majority will not benefit from the subscription in question. This tells us that, in the majority of cases, negotiations should be done through the consortium […] to make sure that [any] institutions requiring the resource [fit] under the same framework: affordable prices and according to the realities of the country.”

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Experiences from Kenya

#INASPPrinciples 1 & 2: understanding country context and negotiating with consortium

Since publishing the INASP Principles for Responsible Engagement, many INASP partners have offered perspectives on the principles. Contributors will be kept anonymous; these are the views of several people.

“When I look at our environment and at members of my consortium, I realize that some members are disadvantaged because they are still struggling to put in place an enabling infrastructure. It comes as no surprise when you enquire about available IPs or networks for an institution to reply that they do not have a network in place. Although these institutions are in a minority, it is important to understand that we have such scenarios. Bandwidths may have improved in some of our countries but the rural areas are still struggling.”

“The other issue to note is the growing market for smartphones among our younger generation, most of whom are in higher education. These smartphones are being used for all kinds of internet access and it is clear that where resources are optimized for such devices, we have been able to bridge the gap in the access to wired resources.”

“Negotiating as a consortium has a lot of advantages and publishers should respect this. “Going through the consortium is time saving for the publisher whose energies might be wasted visiting different institutions without striking any deal.”

“We have seen publishers approaching individual institutions with a hope of striking a deal; they have come away disappointed because the management in most of our member institutions recognize that the consortium is capable of negotiating and providing the necessary resources.”

“Where a publisher has insisted on dealing with individual institutions, we have noticed that this has disadvantaged both the publisher and members of the consortium because in most cases the deals have not gone through, thus denying the institutions much-needed resources and, of course, the publisher loses a potential market.”

“My final message to publishers is this: let us not just focus on striking a one-time deal. It would be more worthwhile to ensure that you have understood the environment you are targeting and created a viable business partnership with the country through the consortium. We need you and you need us, so that makes the two of us.

 

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