Which Factors Influence International Research Collaboration in Africa?

  • Hugo ConfrariaEmail author
  • Jaco Blanckenberg
  • Charl Swart
Part of the Sustainable Development Goals Series book series (SDGS)


It is commonly accepted that international research collaboration improves scientists’ abilities and performance. In this chapter, we investigate the question: what are the characteristics of African researchers who collaborate more often with international partners?. Data are taken from Web of Science and a survey that collected detailed information about the individual characteristics of 2954 African researchers in 42 African countries. We use descriptive statistics and an econometric model to discern the characteristics that are associated with higher levels of collaboration with researchers outside Africa. Overall, our results suggest that, on average, researchers who did their doctoral studies outside of Africa, had the opportunity to move abroad (over the past 3 years) and received a higher share of international funding (over the past 3 years), are more likely to collaborate more frequently with researchers outside of Africa. In our conclusions, we discuss that beyond increasing the availability of mobility scholarships and the amount of research funding for African scientists, policymakers and international organisations should also think in incentives to keep long-term research interactions and try to avoid unequal partnerships.


Research collaboration African science Scientific capabilities Research policy 



The authors would like to thank Robin Cowan, Catherine Beaudry and Johann Mouton for their contributions. The authors also thank Rodrigo Costas for providing valuable data. This article also benefited from comments made by the participants of the book workshop on ‘Africa and Sustainable Development Goals’ (Cape Town) and Globelics 2018 conference (Accra). The authors acknowledge support from the Young Scientists in Africa project funded by Robert Bosch Stiftung and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Any remaining error is the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugo Confraria
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jaco Blanckenberg
    • 3
  • Charl Swart
    • 3
  1. 1.SPRU, University of SussexBrightonUK
  2. 2.UNU-MERIT, Maastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.CREST/SciSTIP, Stellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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