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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