|Bridge Builders: African Experiences with Information & Communication (BOSTID, 1996, 304 p.)|
|Case studies on the collection, management, and dissemination of local information resources|
Many STI projects focus less on the technology and more on the management of information and the content of databases. Databases from abroad do not generally give adequate coverage of research efforts in developing countries and African scientists have learned that they cannot depend on such outside sources for the services needed to keep them abreast of local developments in their subject fields. The following group of case studies focuses on efforts made to collect local information, to organize it into usable forms, and then to disseminate it to those who can put it to good use.
Thus one case study in this section is about a group of natural products researchers who banded together to form a professional network that unites them through newsletters, conferences, publications, and now, electronic means.
The next case study describes how a research institute in Botswana collected local data to produce an indigenous database on socioeconomic information. The project manager learned that she required expertise in subject analysis and indexing, system design, database management, and access to computer hardware.
The Kenya Medical Research Institute decided to focus on their institutional needs for information and designed an information system that included all aspects of their data needs. Their case study demonstrates that many management tasks can be aided by automated data processing and that the introduction of computers can aid the decision-making process, provide information about financial and human resources, improve turnaround time for data analysis and report writing; and improve the quality of data organization and analysis. By adding equipment for desktop publishing and CD-ROM searches they realized the same benefits of other case study authors.
The CSIR in Ghana took a serious look at its mandate and designed a system to improve national access to scientific and technological information. National systems are difficult to manage and finance but the rewards can be great, as demonstrated in this final case study.