Net Diploma

NetDiploma, a two-year GCRF (Global Challenges Research Fund) project, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), aims to understand the challenges faced across the African continent for access to digital information, and design a blueprint to ensure people have access to information that could improve their lives and that of future generations.

Bringing together a consortium of academics, researchers and professionals, key local partners such as the national libraries, national archives and universities in three African countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi), and international organizations including IFLA, UNESCO, UNECA and the African Union, the project will seek to understand the historical, cultural, linguistic, technological and transregional challenges to inform the research and development agenda for building a Digital Public Library of Africa (DPLAf). A bottom-up approach will be taken to explore and prioritise various user needs to complement the ongoing activities in Africa, such as the Access to Scientific and Socioeconomic Knowledge in Africa project (, in order to match the demand and supply of information while preparing a blueprint for the DPLAf for achieveing SDGs in Africa.

The project  will provide a collaborative vehicle to communicate development needs to the multiple disciplines required to undertake the research and design. It will inform policy and strategy development for providing digital, and wherever possible mobile, access to information for African populations to facilitate education and sustainable development in any sector. Hence it will facilitate the achievement of UN SDG 16.10 (public access to information). 

Project Beneficiaries

The long term beneficiaries of a DPLAf, providing easy access to digital resources, are the potentially millions of African citizens, i.e farmers, artists, artisans, and businesses such as tourism, students, teachers and independent researchers, policy and decisions-makers. The more immediate users and beneficiaries of NetDiploma in Africa will include those engaged in information management professions, national/international organisations; the information creators (e.g. governments, communities); and organisational users (e.g. policy-makers, decision makers, business) including memory institutions and national/international institutions such as the African Union (AU), UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and UNESCO. For information professionals (e.g. librarians, archivists, records and information managers, systems developers) in the African countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi), the benefits will be a greater understanding of information needs and the enablers/challenges to public access to information. 

Project Team


PI: Prof Gobinda Chowdhury, Northumbria University, Newcastle 

Co-Is: Prof Julie McLeod, Northumbria University, Newcastle

Dr Solomon Teferra Abate, School of Information, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia (

Dr Paul Lihoma, Director of the National Archives of Malawi and President-elect of ESARBICA

Mr Richard Wato, Kenya NationalArchived & Documentation Services and Secretary General of ESARBICA (Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives)

Steering Committee

International Steering Committee

National Steering Committees


  • Dr Ahmed Hassen, Director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Mr Abreham Chosha Odiyo, Director General, National Archives & Library Agency (NALA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Ms  Irene Onyancha, Chief, Knowledge & Library Services Section, UNECA
  • Mr Garoma Daba, Information & Knowledge Management Division, African Union


  • Mr Francis Mwangi, Director Kenya National Archives & Documentation Service (KNADS)
  • Mr Baron Silas, Head National Documentation & Retrieval Services (NDRS)
  • Ms Emily Njeru, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO
  • Ms Sandra Musoga, Senior Programme Officer, Article 19 (NGO)


  • Mr Gray Nyali, National Librarian, Malawi National Library Service
  • Mr Felix Majawa, University Librarian, Mzuzu University, Malawi
  • Mr Christopher Magomelo, Assistant Director, National Commission for UNESCO
  • Dr Diston Chiweza, Librarian, University of Malawi

Project Partners/Supporters

  • National Archives & Library Agency (NALA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Kenya National Archives & Documentation Service (KNADS), Nairobi, Kenya
  • Kenya National Commission for Unesco
  • Malawi National Commission for Unesco

Upcoming events and news

NetDiploma Addis Ababa event

A 2-day project meeting and workshop will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 15th and 16th January 2019.