Third Africalics Conference titled Emerging Innovation Systems for Sustainable Development in Africa
Eden Phoenix Hotel, Oran, Algeria November 27-29, 2017
The 3rd Edition of the biennial conferences of the African Network of Learning, Innovation and Competency Systems (AfricaLICS) was held during November 27-29, 2017 at the Eden Phoenix Hotel in Oran Algeria. AfricaLICS is the Africa wing of the Global Economics of Learning, Innovation and Competency Systems (GlobeLICS). The 2017 edition was titled Emerging Innovation Systems for Sustainable Development in Africa. The overarching motif for the theme was to provide a platform for students, scholars, practitioners and policymakers to examine evidence of innovations in Africa in the wake of global consciousness that adequate deployment of technology could be potent accelerator to development.
The conference was organised in the traditional plenary and parallel session strategy but it also featured interactive sessions aimed at addressing research issues in the area and also created opportunities for mentorship of students who are carrying out studies in the area.
CODESRIA was invited to participate in the conference, and make a presentation titled The African Citation Index – Ten Years After. The invitation to discuss the African Citation Index yet underpins the growing popularity and acceptance of the index as a strategic innovation for addressing the deficits of knowledge production reporting in Africa. The paper which was majorly conceptual in its content was well received by the audience as it generated a heavy debate. Two streams of opinions, and they are common, dominated the debate. The first consisted of mainstream oriented scholars who were not convinced that the index was necessary. But the pessimism was countered by the majority who considered the index as a required infrastructure to organise and monitor research outcomes in Africa, and to facilitate telling the African research story using African voice. Innovation researchers are conversant with the metric tide that has become part of modern academia and that has influenced approaches to institutional ranking, allocation of grants, student intake and quality of scholars, among others. The organisers of the conference expressed readiness to support and promote the index as much as possible, and asked universities represented to subscribe for the services of the index when it is ready.
The enthusiasm expressed about the index was however moderated by the observation that there appears to be no clear roadmap for the readiness and availability of the index for subscription, and the limitation of empirical evidence the presentation provided to demonstrate the performance and functionalities of the index. It should be recalled that the index presently has covered only five journals in CODESRIA stable. This deficit was however overshadowed by the delight that the index is being constructed with the support and cooperation of the world leader in the area, Web of Science, and the participation of Indian Citation Index. The participants were also glad to hear that the index will be listed as a member of the global Web of Science portal.