Published on Tue Sep 28 2021

Sub-Saharan African Countries' COVID-19 Research: An analysis of the External and Internal Contributions, Collaboration Patterns and Funding Sources

Asubiaro, T. V., Shaik, H.

This study aims to provide some evidence-based insight into Sub-Saharan Africa's first eighteen months of COVID-19 research. USA (23.08%) and the UK (19.63%), the top two external contributors, collaborated with Sub-African countries about three times more than other countries.

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Abstract

This study aims at providing some evidence-based insight into Sub-Saharan Africa's first eighteen months of COVID-19 research by evaluating its research contributions, patterns of collaboration, and funding sources. Eighteen months (2020 January 1-2021 June 30) COVID-19 publication data of 46 Sub-Saharan African countries was collected from Scopus for analysis. Country of affiliation of the authors and funding agencies data was analyzed to understand country contributions, collaboration pattern and funding sources. USA (23.08%) and the UK (19.63%), the top two external contributors, collaborated with Sub-Saharan African countries about three times more than other countries. Collaborative papers between Sub-Saharan African countries - without contributions from outside the region- made up less than five percent of the sample, whereas over 50% of the papers were written in collaboration with researchers from outside the region. Organizations that are in USA and the UK funded 45% of all the COVID-19 research from Sub-Saharan Africa. 53.44% of all the funding from Sub-Saharan African countries came from South African organizations. This study provides evidence that pan-African COVID-19 research collaboration is low, perhaps due to poor funding and lack of institutional support within Sub-Saharan Africa. This mirrors the collaborative features of science in Sub-Saharan Africa before the COVID-19 pandemic. The high volume of international collaboration during the pandemic is a good development. There is also a strong need to forge more robust pan-African research collaboration networks, through funding from Africa's national and regional government organizations, with the specific objective of meeting local COVID-19 and other healthcare needs.