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THEME: Digital Libraries and Archives in Africa: Changing Lives and Building Communities


ICADLA-3 will take place in Morocco and is hosted by Al Akhawayn University, Ifrane

ICADLA is the major African forum focusing on digital libraries and associated technical, practical, organizational, and collaborative issues and is a vehicle for accelerating the preservation of and access to African cultural and heritage materials. ICADLA aims to facilitate the development of skills in the field of digitisation, facilitate the sharing of knowledge, mobilise experts to conduct training and support in digitisation and coordinate collaborative digitisation content and digital data preservation initiatives.

ICADLA-3 events include:
Digital Futures Workshop (3-days): 27 – 29 May
Sustainable Records Digitisation Programmes (1 day): 29 May
2- day Conference: 30 – 31 May
Guided Tour of Fès (The Medina - Old City)

The ICADLA-3 will provide a forum for African Institutions to examine and review: how to establish and sustain digital collections; business models for the preservation and management of digital collections; policy development and strategic frameworks; collaborations and partnerships in digital repository building; standards and best practice; technical infrastructure, such as: metadata, software, development support needs; rights management; proprietary technologies vs. open source; digitisation capacity and skills; content selection (cultural, social, governmental, scholarly, scientific and pedagogical); trusted repositories; impact and evaluation of digital libraries; management of born-digital collections and legislative alignment.


Initiatives for digital libraries and archives are well established in most countries in the global North, but in Africa, these are lagging behind and in the main, are in embryonic stages, limited, and not well coordinated. There is widespread scarcity of expertise and resources to manage digital infrastructure and information, and very few opportunities for capacity development and knowledge-sharing.   

Policies and strategies for developing digital libraries and archives in Africa, as instruments of economic competiveness, sustainability and democratization of access to information and knowledge, need enhancement. There is also a need to increase the capacity of libraries and archives to collaborate within and across national boundaries, to contribute to global initiatives, and to offer robust services.

Through the efforts of the International Conference on African Digital Libraries and Archives (ICADLA) project, initiated in 2009, non-politically affiliated African and globally-minded librarians, archivists, and related professionals have examined the opportunities, challenges, options, and their implications for a robust African digital future. Through the ICADLA Standing Committee, which is drawn from a cross-section of African institutions, the sector has developed positions and recommendations which it needs to communicate to the AUC. These positions and recommendations derive from the outcomes of the First and Second International Conferences on African Digital Libraries and Archives (ICADLA-1 held in Addis Ababa, 1-3 July 2009 and ICADLA-2, held in Johannesburg, 14-18 November 2011).

To address the challenges associated with the fact that Africa is lagging behind in developing and running functional digital libraries and archives, the policy position and recommendations of these leading African information management professionals, are that:

  1. An African Digital Libraries and Archives Programme be established within the African Union Commission (AUC) to spearhead the formulation and coordination of comprehensive policies, strategies and road map as well as provide support for the development of robust digital libraries and archives in African countries. This could be achieved by expanding the scope and strengthening the capacities of existing libraries, archives and knowledge management programmes in the Commission and/or by initiating a brand new programme.
  2. African governments, institutions and the AUC support the development of the African Digital Library and Archive (ADLA) under the technical direction and governance of the Standing Committee of the International Conference on African Digital Libraries and Archives (ICADLA).   
  3. African governments and their development partners support all types of libraries and archives as the foundations of knowledge economies and digital communities.

The First International Conference on African Digital Libraries and Archives (ICADLA-1) was held in the United Nations Conference Centre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 1–3 July 2009. It was organized by the libraries of the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) under the auspices of the Africa Section of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). It consisted of two events: Building on Knowledge: Strategic Roundtable with Intergovernmental Organisations on Putting Libraries on the African Development Agenda; and Connecting Africans to their own resources: developing policies and strategies for Africa’s digital future. The outcome of the conference was a “Declaration and Recommendations on knowledge for development in Africa and the digitisation of African knowledge and heritage.”

The Second International Conference of African Digital Libraries and Archives (ICADLA-2) was held at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa from 14th to 18th November 2011. ICADLA-2 was a two part event consisting of a three-day training workshop designed for library and archives leaders and decision makers, and a two day strategic digitisation project and programme planning conference attended by professionals from libraries and archives, universities, and associations from across Africa and beyond. The theme of the ICADLA-2 conference was Developing Knowledge for Economic Advancement in Africa. This was designed to underline the purpose of digitisation in Africa: to expand opportunities for access to knowledge for human and economic development. The goal of ICADLA-2 was to generate synergies for creating the African Digital Library and Archive.

One of the key recommendations of the two conferences was that an African Digital Library and Archives Programme should be established and that this programme should spearhead the formulation of comprehensive policies, a strategic framework and a road map for digital libraries and archives on the African continent. Conference participants also recommended that the African Union (AU) was the appropriate body to host an African Digital Library programme. The proceedings the conference is available at:    

ICADLA is governed by a 17 member Standing Committee drawn from a cross-section of African institutions.


Adly, Noha Dr

Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt

Aina, Lenrie Professor

University of Ilorin, Nigeria

Azubuike, Abraham   

Dag Hammarskjold Library, United Nations

Bakhoum, Nafissatou

Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire, Senegal

Benbouida, Mohamed Dr

Ministry of Scientific Research, Morocco

Hillebrecht, Werner

National Archives of Namibia

Kalule, Ezra

National Library of Uganda

Lotfi, Abdelhamid Professor

Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Morgos, Rafaa Dr

Ministry of Science and Technology, Sudan

Motsi, Alexio                         

National Archives of South Africa

Nhlapo, Lindy

IFLA Regional Manager for Africa

Okojie, Victoria

IFLA Africa Section Chair

Pickover, Michele       

University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Salanje, Geoffrey

Bunda College of Agriculture, University of Malawi

Selematsela, Daisy Dr

National Research Foundation, South Africa

Ubogu, Felix (Chair)  

University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Wordofa, Teklemichael

Addis Ababa University Library, Ethiopia


ICADLA International Advisory Committee

Eric Howard Fulbright Academy of Science and Technology
Dr Jill Cousins Europeana Foundation
Kristine Hanna Internet Archive
Martin Kalfatovic Smithsonian, USA
Simon Tanner King’s College London, UK
Vigdis Moe Skarstein National Librarian, Norway


CADLA International Advisory Committee