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Article Type: Guest editorial From: Library Review, Volume 60, Issue 5
This special issue of Library Review contains six of the best papers that are extracted from the Standing Conference of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa Library (SCECSAL) and Information Associations XIX Proceedings. SCECSAL 2010 was hosted by the Botswana Library Association from 6 to 9 December 2010 at the University of Botswana. The theme of the conference was “Enhancing democracy and good governance through effective information and knowledge services”. This theme was considered appropriate for the twenty-first century when almost all African countries have achieved political independence and have taken initiatives in terms of growth in information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the knowledge-based economy. Further, the theme links very well with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development programme of strengthening the principles of democracy and good governance in member countries (Nkiko, 2008, www.webpages.uidaho.edu/∼mbolin/nkiko-yusuf.pdf). Good governance can be achieved if libraries can pro-actively participate in provision of information access for all members of society.
Therefore, the twenty-first century should be seen as a watershed in the development and contribution of libraries and information services towards democracy, good governance and elimination of poverty in the continent. This is possible through the provision of open access to effective information and knowledge services for Africa’s development. Democracy and socio-economic development requires an informed and questioning citizenry.
The proceedings of this conference covered a number of sub-themes including: freedom of access to information, censorship of information, internet monitoring, information privacy and confidentiality, advocacy and smart partnerships between libraries and government in national development, learning organizations, digital divide and achievement of democracy, e-governance, e-government and libraries in Africa, universal access to information and disadvantaged groups, information literacy, local content, knowledge management/services, libraries, democratization process and promotion of sustainable good governance in Africa, ICTs.
This special issue includes the six papers and each paper represents a different theme. The first paper by Edda Tandi Lwoga, Christine Stilwell and Patrick Ngulube titled “Access and use of agricultural information and knowledge in Tanzania” assesses the flow of agricultural knowledge and information in the rural areas of developing countries, with a specific focus on Tanzania and recommends improved access to agricultural knowledge and information in the rural areas of Tanzania. The second paper on “Public libraries: pathways to making Botswana an educated, informed nation” by Tshepo Maswabi, Tiroyamodimo Sethate, Sebusang E.M. Sebusang and Resego Taolo discusses various attempts by the Sesigo project towards achievement of Botswana’s national vision of an informed, educated nation by 2016. The third paper is on “Enhancing democracy and good governance: a curriculum proposal for information/knowledge management professionals (IKMPs) in the SCECSAL region” by Isaac M.N. Kigongo-Bukenya and Sarah Kaddu. The paper proposes a curriculum model for library and information science education and training institutions in the SCECSAL region to produce information and knowledge management professionals with theory and competencies to manage the Information/Knowledge Society towards enhancing democracy and good governance.
The fourth paper by Priti Jain and R.B. Nfila titled “Developing strategic partnerships for national development: a case of Botswana” explores how libraries and information centres can play a key role in national development through strategic working partnerships with government and other stakeholders and suggests the potential areas of partnerships. The fifth paper is on “Information seeking behaviour of orphaned and vulnerable children’s Caregivers in Namibia” by Chiku Mnubi-Mchombu and Janneke Mostert and determines how the caregivers of orphans and vulnerable children in Namibia seek information to ensure their own and the children’s survival. The findings suggest that there are disparities between rural and urban areas in terms of information access and use. The sixth and final paper is from Akakandelwa Akakandelwa on “An exploratory survey of the SADC e-government web sites”. This paper assesses the extent to which selected governments in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) were using the internet to promote democracy and has revealed that SADC countries have constructed web sites to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of e-government delivery services.
It is our sincere hope that these six papers as emissaries of the SCECSAL 2010 conference theme will help us re-think our roles and ameliorate the relevance of our libraries and information services towards national development, and take the necessary initiatives to promote democracy and good governance through effective provision of information and knowledge services in Africa and around the world.
Priti Jain, R.B. NfilaGuest Editors
Nkiko, C. (2008), “Library and information support for new partnership for Africa 's development (NEPAD), ” Library Philosophy and Practice, December