Journal of Simulation: Africa Focus Initiative

Professor Nav Mustafee

The Journal of Simulation (JOS) Africa Focus initiative aims to increase the volume of modelling and simulation (M&S) research from authors affiliated with African institutions. It will increase the visibility of African research and promote studies unique to African contexts. A further aim is to establish JOS as a key conduit for this dissemination! JOS Africa Focus is a three-year initiative (January 2024-December 2026) supported by the OR Society. Beyond 2026, the initiative is expected to have brought about sufficient momentum for the natural followthrough of its core aims and objectives.

ORS Africa Focus Logo

An analysis of journal demographics for M&S journals, including JOS, identified a low representation of authors affiliated with African institutions. The analysis considered the first authors and co-authors; the timeline was 2018-2023. The Africa Focus initiative was thus started to realise greater parity and thereby bring about a more balanced representation in JOS and, through a snowball effect, contribute towards bringing a more transformative change in our field. Africa Focus has outlined several tasks that will take place concurrently. This includes proactive work towards a better representation balance among authors and case study contexts, editorial board members and peer reviewers, plenary speakers, etc. The initiative also contributes to capacity building through elements like paper development workshops, active networking realised by first identifying and then engaging with peer networks, invitations to academic workshops and seminar series, developing JOS special issues focussing on Africa, and approaching our network of colleagues (including Associate Editors of JOS) to request their time as volunteers to shepherd JOS Africa Focus papers.

To provide leadership and to steer the various inclusion, capacity building and dissemination activities around the initiative, the Africa Focus Leadership Committee was formally set up in December 2023 (following ratification by OR Society). It includes academics from the OR Society and other international scholarly societies who have a strong connection with African research networks or have worked in African institutions or projects. The committee includes Emeritus Professor John Powell (Exeter), Dr Gilbert Owusu (BT), Dr Sahnoun M’hammed (CESI, France), Richlove Frimpong (Kings College London), Dr Saikou Diallo (Old Dominion University, USA), Professor Mamadou Kaba Traore (University of Bordeaux, France), Professor Simon Taylor (Brunel University London), Dr Lateef Jolaoso (University of Southampton), Richard Goodman (Taylor & Francis – supporting data analysis) and, the Chair of the Committee, Professor Nav Mustafee (Exeter).

The Africa Focus activities currently underway include (a) a special session delivered by African researchers as part of the University of Exeter Business School and Arizona State University (UEBS-ASU) joint workshop on Supply Chain Resilience (June 11-13, 2024, Exeter), (b) a paper development workshop at AFROS 2024 (Nov 3-5, 2024, Algeria), (c) the launch of the call for paper for the first JOS Africa Focus special issue (April, 2024), (d) establishing networks with peer-groups, e.g., Global Research and Education Partnership (GREP) through Professor Mamadou Traore (member of the Africa Focus Leadership Committee), Center for Applied Research and Innovation in Supply Chain-Africa (CARISCA) – through Professor Thomas Choi (Arizona State University, USA), and (e) Africa Focus session at the 12th Annual Simulation Workshop (March 31 – April 2, 2025, Exeter).

In conclusion, the JOS Africa Focus initiative is a two-way learning process. We gain from learning about research and practice developed in the African continent, using novel methods and case studies that are particularly suited to addressing the problems and challenges in Africa. Through increased dissemination, such approaches will benefit from a more international dimension, work referenced and evaluated for deployment outside the core case study context, and new hybrid methods and unique solutions developed. On its part, the initiative will support authors and early career researchers by providing a platform for wider recognition of their research and practice.