n Mousaion - The role of digital libraries in bridging the knowledge gap in Africa




Digital libraries have a huge potential towards offsetting the knowledge deficit in many parts of the world and Africa in particular. This article reports on a study aimed at exploring the status of digital libraries and the contributions they have made towards bridging the knowledge gap in Africa. The study examined the origin, growth and current status of digital libraries; identified critical issues surrounding their existence; and investigated the level to which they had helped to reduce disparities in access to knowledge and promote the quality of education and research in Africa. It also explored the challenges met in the development, management and use of these libraries with a view to improving them. Data collection and analysis was largely based on a review of the extant literature as well as an analysis of the statistical data collected from a number of organisations and websites. The key finding was that although there had been some efforts in Africa to harness opportunities created by the Internet and digital libraries through research initiatives, the continent still trailed the rest of the world in the actual use of these resources. It was recommended that African governments and higher education institutions (HEIs) create an environment that is conducive for further development of these libraries and facilitate them to contribute more effectively to information and cultural content. There was also a need to increase investments in the digital technologies to reduce the existing disparities and barriers to universal access to the knowledge resources.


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