Background of EAC Information Resource Centre (IRC)/ Establishment
An Information needs consultancy conducted in 1997, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), identified the Permanent Tripartite Commission for East African Co-operation’s key management information requirements and recommended a strategy to ensure that the Secretariat performs its functions efficiently and effectively.
Establishment of a Library was identified as essential to provide the information that would support the Commissions’ work.
A Project on Information and Communications (1998 – 2000) provided the initial infrastructure of the Library including furniture, equipment, books and Library Software. The Library and Documentation Centre became operational in the year 2000 and was housed in room 543, Kilimanjaro wing of the Arusha International Conference (AICC).
In November 2012, the East African Community moved into its new EAC Headquarters. Space covering three levels was earmarked to house the Secretariat, East African Court of Justice (EACJ) and the East African Legislative assembly (EALA) libraries.
The Secretariat Library was allocated space on ground floor, EACJ wing. The Library look before the new plan.
With the newly acquired Library space, there was a need to remodel and redesign it into a modern Information Resource Center (IRC). The IRC was envisaged to have the following sections at each level:
Reception Area – Circulation Area, Display Area, Quick Reference Sections, Periodical Sections, General Stalk Areas – Shelving units, Leisure Reading Area, Multimedia Section, Exhibition Area, Digitization room , Storage and Archival Room and General Reading Area.
In order to accommodate the above requirements and specialized needs of each Organ there was a need for a clear interior design plan that:
- Would maximize the use of space;
- Would provide easy accessibility for both staff and users;
- Is adaptive to changes in style, working practices and the changing needs of libraries including digitization, storage, IT usage, durability, and flexibility;
- Would zone up various sections and layouts to provide a conducive working preservation and reading environment.
Therefore, in March 2013, DEMCO Interiors (U.K) was contracted to carry out interior planning and redesigning of the Libraries space.
The IRC was officially opened in the 28th April, 2014 by the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers, Hon. Phyllis Kandie, the Occasion was graced by the Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, The Secretary General, Deputy Secretaries General and Senior Officials from Partner States.
The Chairperson in opening the IRC had this to say; “utilization of information and research data should be used not only to fuel growth and development within the region, but also to spark interest in the EAC integration agenda especially among the youth”.
Digitization of the EAC Information Resources
The IRC took cognisance that:
- EAC in her deepening of the regional integration had attained two stages of the integration process namely, the Customs Union (2005), and the Common Market (2010) and had signed a protocol on the Monitory Union. In the process of attaining the various stages of integration, a lot of information has been generated and was continuously being generated during initiation and implementation of projects and programs on the pillars of integration and all other sectors of cooperation.
- The information was located in their respective Organs and Institutions and in different departments such as the legal, Information and public relations, Libraries, registries, Archives and in individual offices.
- Despite the various dissemination strategies, EAC information was not easily accessible and shared effectively with the stakeholders and researchers. Further, there was no mechanism put in place as yet to preserve EAC institutional memory.
It was against this background that the Information Resource Centre sought to embark on digitizing EAC information resources for easy access and preservation of the EAC Institutional Memory.
Study to develop Modalities for digitizing the EAC Information Resources
In order to symmetrically digitize the EAC Institutional memory, a study to develop modalities for digitizing the EAC Information Resources was commissioned December 2013. The study covered the three Organs and Four Institutions of the Community, namely the EAC Secretariat(EACS), East African Court Justice (EACJ) and East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) and Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), Inter-university Council for East Africa (IUCEA), Civil Aviation, Safety and Security Over Sight Agency (CASSOA), Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO). The study recommended a “One stop Shop” distributed scenario where the EAC Organs and institutions set up and manage their own databases in a coordinated manner with single access point for all EAC information.
Development of an EAC Institutional Repository and Web Portal
In May 2015, with the support of GIZ the IRC developed and set up an EAC Information Repository and Web Portal to manage and disseminate information about EAC. The Repository runs on a Resource discovery platform that is linked with EAC organs and institutions.
The EAC Institution Repository is a one-stop-shop platform of digital information and knowledge generated by EAC Organs and Institutions in execution of their various mandates since 1993. The Institutional Repository was established in order to provide visibility, accessibility and effective dissemination of EAC information and knowledge to all stakeholders, policy makers, researchers, students and the general public as well as preserve the EAC institutional memory for future generations and prosperity.
The Information and knowledge is mainly institution-specific comprising of the various materials including among others, treaties, protocols, development strategies, studies, speeches, parliamentary debates, court proceedings, photos, videos and documentaries of key events and milestones of the EAC integration process.