Drawing on the insights provided in the publication “The Government Information Landscape in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities for Improvement”, IFLA presented on the role of libraries at the African Peer Review Mechanism’s African Governance Seminar, highlighting our contribution to open governance goals. We are grateful to Nerisa Kamar, Information Africa Organization, for attending and providing this report.

Attendees at the African Peer Review Mechanism 5th African Governance Seminar
Participants at the Seminar, held in Addis Ababa

The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) 5th Annual African Governance Seminar was held from the 1st to 2nd of December 2022 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. it’s main theme was “Consolidating Democracy and Economic Governance for Recovery, Growth and Stability” with four subthemes, and brought together more than twenty paper presentations.

A paper “The Government Information Landscape in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities for Improvement” was presented on behalf of IFLA by Nerisa Kamar of Information Africa Organization Kenya. The paper was based on her contribution to IFLA Professional Report No.137: The Government Information Landscape and Libraries (2021), alongside Clive Tsuma and coordinated by the Government Information and Official Publications Section. It also drew on the UN 2030 Agenda (and in particular Target 16.10 of the SDG – to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreement) and the African Union Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want.

IFLA representative Nerisa Kumar, Information Africa Organization
IFLA representative Nerisa Kumar, Information Africa Organization

The presentation also explored government agendas emanating from the above e.g. Kenya Vision 2030 (government development program 2008-2030; originally tied to the Millennium Development Goals) with a focus on Sub-Saharan African countries.  Major highlights of the paper presented included:

  • Discussion about what could be done with information and knowledge flows emanating from seminars, conferences and meetings funded/sponsored by governments, government agencies and related bodies.
  • The need to adhere to legal deposit laws by depositing publications with designated government agencies and libraries as custodian of government information. This will enhance information dissemination to all citizens at no or minimal cost.
  • The role of information and knowledge management professionals in organizing, repackaging, searching, retrieving and disseminating authentic, reliable, relevant, accurate and timely information for evidence based decision making, and supporting research and learning as well as generation of new knowledge. This results in an informed citizenry.
  • It is not enough to have articles and books. Experts in governance to develop policy briefs, summaries and reports targeting each category of information consumers.
  • The need for information professionals to develop/recommend and implement information management systems, and in particular, repositories allowing for a one stop shop to access information. Open access repositories such as D-Space and Digital Commons are recommended.
  • The critical need to integrate information professionals programmes, seminars and conferences to support knowledge capture and documentation of best practices for sharing and future improvements, success stories for replication, and lssons learnt for improvement.

The presentation resulted in a further discussion with other stakeholders there on how best to ensure that government information is accessible to citizens regardless of language, level of education and geographical location.

This was a welcome opportunity to advocate and reposition information professionals in discussions around the dissemination of government information for an informed citizenry.