May 2018 saw the launch of an exciting initiative by the National Research Foundation in collaboration with the University of the Witwatersrand Libraries to set up an institute that can create digitisation capacity in South Africa. This was the first initiative of its kind funded by the NRF and is an exciting initiative in South Africa. It is expected to grow significant capacity in South African institutions in terms of the conceptualisation and execution of significant digitisation projects that can both contribute to the preservation of valuable collections and enable access to them.
I had the privilege of being invited at the last minute to present at the launch event, when another speaker had a family crisis, and to share something of our experience in digitising the ANC Archive. I started with the report by the Economist Intelligence Unit that placed South Africa behind Kenya in terms of its digitisation efforts and ended with an appeal for government, business and institutions to ackowledge one another’s contribution and work together to cross the digital divide. You can hear that speech on SoundCloud which was graciously recorded by Ayodele Ladokun from the University of Fort Hare.