The Impact of Improved Access and Connectivity on Intellectual Property Output: Baseline Report
Tusubira, Francis F.
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“…when countries lose their base for academic excellence – throughout-dated policies, neglected institutions, the exodus of their best graduates or woefully inadequate investment in research – their competitiveness in the global knowledge society will dwindle and eventually disappear”. We open with this quote because it paints a stark but correct picture of what is happening in many African countries, providing a starting point for this discussion. The intellectual property output of African universities and research institutions and their contribution to national human development is not commensurate with their human resource. The institutions also have very limited visibility at the global level, leading to loss of competitiveness of the institutions, and consequently the competitiveness of their home countries. While this is the result of many factors, we posit that the current isolation of Africabased researchers from the global information infrastructure (GII) is a major contributing factor, and that the reduction of such isolation will lead to increased intellectual property output. During 2009, the UbuntuNet Alliance initiated research aimed at examining this hypothesis by tracking researcher behaviour over a period of at least five years. The actual baseline data collection started during 2010, running into mid 2011. In this paper we report on this baseline study that was designed to benchmark the status of access and connectivity as well as intellectual property output, all measured at the institutional level. Based on the findings of the baseline research, we also make action recommendations to universities that are aimed at creating the kind of research environment where improved access and connectivity would boost research output. We start with a background section that provides the context for this on-going research, specifically discussing what makes up the research environment in a university, in recognition of the fact that there are several other elements that will influence the quality and quantity of intellectual property output. We then describe and explain the research design, followed by a presentation, analysis, and discussion of the baseline study results. This is followed by a summary of our preliminary findings and action recommendations for universities in Africa.