n Mousaion - "Ghosts in our machines" : preserving public digital information for the sustenance of electronic government in sub-Saharan Africa

Volume 30, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



The adoption of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the diffusion of the internet have led to the creation of electronic government (e-government) in many countries in the world. E-government aims at providing government information and services through online means. However, ICTs are like the proverbial double-edged sword when it comes to providing a platform for e-government. On the one hand they offer advantages of real-time and instantaneous access to information, while on the other hand they pose significant challenges related to the preservation of information. The discussion on the challenges posed by digital technology becomes even more important in view of the fact that many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are currently implementing e-government initiatives. However, "current technology is not up to the challenge of capturing, managing and preserving electronic records, especially social media records". Issues of sustainability have to be taken into consideration if the electronic information on e-government platforms is to remain accessible and proccessable over time. Governments in sSA will be plunged into the proverbial "digital dark ages" if library information services (LIS) professionals do not deal with the challenges posed by digital information. The quest of delivering government information and services with the aid of ITCs will come to naught if, for example, the information is not safeguarded from technological obsolescence. Typical characteristics of digital information used to deliver e-government will be discussed below, followed by the various challenges posed by the digital medium. Finally, the article will recommend strategies to deal with these challenges. Trusted digital repositories will feature prominently in the recommendations as these provide a possible means of providing permanent public access to electronic government information.

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