Chris Blattman

Access for Africa

jstorFrom a commenter (and friend) I learn that any academic or not-for-profit institution in Africa can gain free access to JSTOR, the online repository of more than 1500 of the world’s top academic journals.

I assume this policy does not apply to African NGO offices with headquarters in the developed world, but the website does not say. Do comment if you know the policy, so our generous JSTOR friends don’t get too many identical emails.

So three cheers for JSTOR. Anyone know if others (e.g. Elsevier) do the same?

Now if only copyright agreements allowed the same for Google Books. (Failing that, I still think it’s feasible to allow textbooks and academic volumes more than a few years old to be printed copyright-free in Africa.)

9 Responses

  1. Fortunately the move towards Open Access encompassess more than JSTOR. Open Access is general in that it does not depend on who or where you are. Here is the link to the Directory of Open Access Journals, hosted by Lund:

  2. A friend alerted me to the University of Iowa’s WiderNet project. They send hard drives (“e-granaries”) stuffed full of resources (even copied websites) to African universities where connectivity is an issue.

  3. Hi, Chris – I’m Kristen Garlock, the Associate Director for Outreach & Education at JSTOR. I’m glad to tell you a bit more about the program. We work with INASP and eIFL to make JSTOR collections (including Aluka collections, freely available to all not-for-profit institutions in Africa and in several countries in other regions. Institutions need to register with INASP and eIFL to start the process. We would be certainly be willing to extend JSTOR access to the African branches and local offices of NGOs with headquarters in other countries.

    We also have reduced fees for a group of countries beyond those that are eligible for free access. Lists of these countries are available on the Developing Nations Access Initiative page ( I would encourage folks to contact our Outreach & Participation Services staff (, or INASP and eIFL, if you have any questions about eligibility.

  4. INASP-PERI (based in the UK) helps a lot of libraries (and consortia of libraries) in the developing world get a combination of free and/or cheap access to electronic resources. is also active in working with consortia, to get discounts, which in some cases can be very large. Then there are the freebies, which require registratio, such as AGORA, HINARI, OARE and GDNET. African Digital Library (based in South Africa) is another one, plus of course there are other open access journals. If anyone wants to discuss some specifics in more detail, I am quite happy to do so, from the point of view of a user based in a developing country – Ghana

  5. Fantastic! I know at the APSA African scholar workshops they’ve been running the past two summers, issue #1 has been access to publications for those Africa-based scholars. Here’s hoping Elsevier and EBSCOHost will follow JSTOR’s lead!

  6. The ACM and IEEE appear to have fairly meager discounts for access to their digital libraries to members in Africa; IEEE is 145 instead of 175 per year and ACM is 100 instead of 200. Springer-Verlag doesn’t even publish prices, you need to contact them.

    One more reason to free scientific publishing!

  7. I live in India, and I have always been able to download NBER working papers for free. Here’s what I found at NBER:

    “In recognition of their substantial support, the NBER offers free downloads of the full text of all NBER working papers since November 1994 to all members of the US Federal Government at the .GOV top level domain, as well as members of the press and to users from most developing countries and transition economies.”

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