Optimizing National Transforming Structures for Open Access Agricultural Repositories in Africa

Kahinga, Esther
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Agriculture is a crucial sector for most of sub-Saharan Africa. In Kenya for instance agriculture is the largest sector in the Kenyan economy, generating a quarter of the gross domestic product and two-fifths of export earnings. Indeed reports have shown that efficient and effective dissemination of agricultural knowledge and information can help governments meet six of the eight millennium development goals. But for this to happen, transforming structures (policies and strategies) that encourage digital documentation of agricultural indigenous knowledge and digitization of valuable information emanating from agricultural research in Kenyan institutions of higher learning and research centres must be formulated, publicized and implemented. The Kenya Agricultural Information Network (KAINet) was established in 2006 in response to a need for coherence in the management of agricultural information and to enhance exchange and access to agricultural knowledge and information through a digital collaborative institutional repository. From a national perspective, KAINet is enshrined in the Kenya government Strategy for Revitalizing Agriculture (SRA). The SRA, launched in March 2004, aims at achieving a reduction in unemployment and poverty through application of, among other things, new technologies and information as the basis for a thriving agricultural system. Besides the SRA, another policy that has been launched to create an enabling environment for projects such as the KAINet initiative, is the National Information and Communication Technology Policy. The paper will look at the KAINet progress in the light of these policies and at what lessons can be learnt from them. In addition, suggestions will also be discussed about the additional digital agricultural content that Kenya and Africa at large can develop to have Africanized open access repositories available on the World Wide Web, which will ensure that Africa establishes her niche in the information and knowledge age.
ICADLA, conference, digital library, archive, Kenya, Nairobi, Open Access, transformation, agriculture