Realising a ‘Right’ to Research in Nigeria and South Africa: the Role of the Executive Arm of Government

Author: Chijioke Okorie

ISSN: 2521-2605
Affiliations: LLB (Nigeria); LLM (Strathclyde); PhD (Cape Town): Lecturer, Department of Private Law University of Pretoria
Source: Journal of Comparative Law in Africa, Volume 10 Issue 2, p. 141 – 173


Development agendas and plans such as South Africa’s National Development Plan 2030 and Nigeria’s National Development Plan 2021–2025, indicate the need for, and benefits of, development research to sharpen countries’ innovative edge and to contribute to global scientific and technological advancement. Recent scholarship has highlighted the positive impact on national development of copyright exceptions allowing for the right to research. This can be in the form of either a complete defence to copyright infringement, or, as user rights. However, the realisation of a right to research has been limited by a copyright legislative framework that may be challenging to interpret. Other hindrances to realising the right to research are limited access to courts for interpretation due to limited resources and also as a result of the inherent institutional limitations of courts to consider only the case pleaded by parties before them. In this environment, the role of the executive arm of government in driving the realisation of a right to research is crucial. Yet, there’s been no executive action to provide for the much-needed clarification to concretise and promote the right to research to actualise development goals. Focused on Nigeria and South Africa, this paper explores the duties imposed on the institutions of executive government and applies administrative law principles to indicate a policy toolkit within copyright statutes that may be deployed to realise a right to research and engender guidance for researchers, copyright owners, users and audience of research.