The Sixth Scientific Conference On TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER FOR DEVELOPMENT, Khartoum, 8-10 April 2003: Establishing Basic Levels of Technology Transfer for :Sudan Documentation and Library Services:Challenges and Opportunities /By: Rafaa Ashamallah Ghobrial||
4-5. Information networks and Internet Connectivity Projected Sudan to the World:
Sudan is very rich in culture and has great tourism and investment potentials. While documentation and other records on Sudanese cultural heritage and investment potentials abound locally, such information is yet to be sufficiently marketed to the outside world, which are discussed intensively in workshops and seminars individually or collectively. With the opportunities offered by modern information technologies, Sudanese libraries have a great chance of projecting Sudan positively to the world thereby attracting foreign investments and promoting tourism. In spite of everything, abundant indigenous knowledge, the outcome of local research efforts into various fields of life, including agriculture, medicine, science and technology abound all over Sudan. These are scattered on library shelves and in private offices in form of grey literature and are largely unutilized. Since such materials can easily become part of the collections of libraries in Sudan, such indigenous knowledge could be projected to the rest of the world through the Internet. For this to happen, Sudanese libraries must embark on aggressive acquisition of Sudan collections, including grey literature, computerize their information management and form library networks. Such library networks in Sudan will surely boost development through the provision of serious development information appropriate to the Sudanese environment.
So far, much of the information on Sudan in the world's information networks tend to project only the negative tendencies and situations of Sudan and Sudanese. It is noteworthy that such tendencies are found with all peoples and nations. While Sudanese libraries should not be merely out to counter the negative information about Sudan, there is serious need to project to the whole world the positive sides of Sudan and the achievements of Sudanese often swept under the carpet. Sudanese in various fields of life have performed many feats but these are hardly given publicity by the Western press.
Sudan can benefit of network development programs as discussed by Ghobrial (1999, 2000) which include:
1- PADISNET (Pan African Documentation Centre Network) - This is a project to interconnect centres performing research on planning of development in some African countries into a network for data and information exchange and NCR-DIC acts as national focal point;
2- CABECA - (Capacity Building for Electronic Communication in Africa) - This is a project to promote computer networking throughout Africa. It is sponsored by the Pan Africa Development Information System (PADIS) of the United Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). CABECA is funded by the IDRC, Canada to achieve low cost electronic connectivity in some countries of Africa. It has already established nodes in some parts of the Region.
3- SLDS (Strengthening Libraries and Documentation Services in IGAD States). The Netherlands Government sponsors it. NCR-DIC designated as National Information Node.
4- RAIN (Regional Agricultural Information Network for ASARECA states. It is designed to remove the isolation suffered by agricultural researchers in the sub-region by integrating them via network with their counterparts in other parts of the globe and to create linkage among the researchers themselves.
There are certainly many other networks all over the world but not listed here. Considering the existing regional and international information networks, there is no doubt that the networking capabilities of Sudanese libraries will be greatly enhanced in the coming decade. Once the libraries can put their houses in order and establish local networks, these can under proper arrangement be interconnected with the existing networks. A major criticism of the information networks in Sudan is that they have been initiated and entirely funded by bodies outside Sudan. The implication of this is that whenever such sponsoring bodies do withdraw their support the systems are most likely to fail. For sustainability, it is important for Sudan to take the initiative on information networks and to be committed to funding them, at least, jointly with donor agencies and nations. It is only then that whatever networks established can serve the best interest of Sudan in terms of priority and sustainability.