Institutional Repositories: Towards Harnessing Knowledge for African Development

Moahi, Kgomotso
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Information and knowledge are the drivers of socio-economic development. According to a World Bank report, weakness in the application of knowledge is a major factor behind the economic stagnation in Africa. Compared with other countries, Africa has not had much success in acquiring and using knowledge for development. The application of knowledge is directly linked to the availability and access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) and in the African setting there are documented challenges in availability and access to ICT. However, the greater challenge in applying knowledge for development lies in the fact that although knowledge is generated in universities and research centres, it is either disseminated in expensive international journals, or gathers dust in the offices (and computers) of the generators, as well as those that have funded or commissioned the research. The tragedy is that after a number of years, such studies are replicated without the knowledge that they have been carried out before. Much of the knowledge that is produced is in digital form as a result of the ubiquity of ICTs in many universities and research centres. However, the challenge is that the information and knowledge is not captured, organized for easy access and use by others. The application and use of information and knowledge can only become a reality where that information is collected, processed, and made visible for dissemination and use. This can only occur if developments in ICT are leveraged to develop digital libraries that can make African-grown knowledge visible. The trend worldwide has been to establish information repositories in order to make knowledge visible and accessible.
ICADLA, conference, digital library, archive, Botswana, IR