JULY 1991










              5.1   POLICY OBJECTIVES
              5.2   POLICY ELEMENTS


The movement towards the formulation of a National Policy on Information Systems and Services (NPISS) in Ethiopia began in 1984 when a seminar on the National Information Policy and Plan was organized by the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission in cooperation with the UNESCO.  Even if the need for NPISS was felt in the country for nearly a decade, there has not been any organized and formal measure taken to formulate it.  However, at present, the need for NPIS is felt more and strong attention is given regionally and nationally, than ever for effective utilization of information.  The National Scientific and Technological Information and Documentation Centre (NSTIDC) which was set up under the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission (ESTC) has now undertaken the initiative to draft a NPISS.  

The aims of this document are:  (1) to make the national authorities aware of the need for the development of information systems and services and thereby indicate possible elements to be covered in the national development plan, (2) to create awareness and achieve general consensus among institutions and information professionals regarding relevant elements and strategies in the development of information systems and services, and (3) to provide framework for discussion among professionals who will be involved in the ratification of the subject, and draw strategy for its implementation and operation.  

The drafting of NPISS is based on (1) past institutional activities on information policy, (2) an inventory of facilities and services of Ethiopian libraries and information centres made in 1987, and (3) an assessment of current situations and problems regarding information related issues studied recently.  The purpose of the reviews of past experiences and the studies were to identify the existing capabilities, problems and future prospects in the field in relation to global activities in general and to Ethiopia's need in particular.  

In addition to our country's experiences, the NPIS drafts and activities of other developing countries were considered and studied, literature reviews on information policy were also made.  Moreover, the recent regional seminar on "Regional Information and Informatics Policy" held at the Economic Commission for Africa was great opportunity to look at African experiences through formal and informal discussions on NPIS of member countries.  

Subsequently, a team in the NSTIDC has began drafting the NPISS.  This draft will be forwarded to various individuals and organizations for comment.  And then the comment received will be incorporated in the next draft.  More revisions and seminar on the draft may be made before it will be finalized and presented to the Government for approval.


Policy :-  is a set or principles and strategies which guide a course of action for the achievement of a given goal.  Policies may be developed at the organizational or institutional level (micropolicies) or at the national, regional or international level (macropolicies).  Policies are embodied in the so-called policy instruments.  These can be of the followings kinds:  legal instruments.  (Constitution, parliamentary act, laws, regulations, international treaties, etc.) professional instruments.  (code of conduct, professional ethics, etc.) and cultural instruments (customs, beliefs, traditions, social values, etc.) (8).

Information :-  is intelligence or knowledge that contributes to the social, economic, cultural and political well being of society irrespective of the form it is encrypted n (text, figures, diagrams, etc.); irrespective of the mode of dissemination (oral, written, or audio-visual, etc.) and the social activity that gave rise to it (research, administration, censuses, remote sensing, etc.) and the institutions that organize and disseminate it (libraries, documentation centres, archives, statistical offices, mapping agencies, geological surveys, computer centres, media and broadcasting services, telecommunication services) .

Information policy :-  applied to the field of information, policies provide guidance for the design of a strategy and programmes for the development and use of information resources, services and systems an information policy can be formulated at the institutional, national, regional or international level (8).

Information systems :-  are composed of sets of information units in computerized or non-computerized forms which interact and work with each other in some consistent pattern (8).

Information services :-  include provision of information and data through systems and networks of different types in the private and public sectors (data banks; databases; library systems; library services; documentation centres and services; information analysis, consolidation and repackaging centres and services; archives statistical services, etc.)  (8).

Information infrastructure :-  consists of information resources, services and systems, supported or not by Informatics and telecommunication facilities, necessary for the processing and delivery of information.  The traffic within this infrastructure is information itself (8).

Information resources :-  are the sources of information (collection), human, physical facilities and financial resources involved in the operation of an information centre.

Documentation centre :-  is a place where publications are received, processed preserved, summarized, abstracted and indexed; where bulletins relating to such materials are repared for distribution to those interested; where research is undertaken, bibliographies prepared, and copies or translations made (7).


The basic principles upon which the National Policy on Information Systems and Services is based are the following:

        that information is an economic resource. like any other resources with its own value and cost of production and that it should be managed and developed like other economic resources;

        that like other resources, information has a defined life cycle, from its generation, through collection (acquisition), processing to disposition and that decisions about each phase of the cycle have implications for the other segments of the life cycle;

        that National Policy on Information systems and Services should be an integral part of a National Development Plan and that because of its (information) versatile nature, information and related plans and strategies are embodied in sectoral development plans;

        that the size and diversity of information activities in the whole country mean that accountability for and management of information resources must follow a suitable operational mechanism.  Every information service unit is part of the nation-wide system through its respective sectoral node;

        that apart from giving information services to its users at national level, the role of central management and oversight bodies should be examining major or precedent-sifting initiatives and investment decisions; addressing common government-wide problems; and creating positive incentives for effective management of information resources by sectoral Information and Documentation Centres;

        that the quality and availability of information manpower is a determining factor to the quality of information service in a national and it is believed to be in the interest of the government to develop national capability in training of information practitioners in the country;

        that it is generally in the interest of the government and as well as the public to exploit the economies and efficiencies available through the use of modern information processing and transmission technologies at our disposal; and

        that national self sufficiency in regards with total availability of information in the modern world is neither possible nor desirable anywhere in view of the volume and cost of information and published records.  And that resource sharing would ensure the harnessing of the information resources not only within a nation but also those of the regions in which a country is located, and indeed of the whole world.


The NPISS covers the different aspects of the provision of information services to various user groups of the society.  In addition to this, it also comprises manpower development, and building up of the necessary infrastructures and ensuring continuous and adequate funding.

The NPISS has been given wider scope so as to cover the various aspects of information activities.  The activities of information and documentation covered extend from generation, through collection and processing to the dissemination of information, and the resources involved in them.  particular attention is given to library and information practices because of their relative significance in the provision of information services, and it is where much human, material and financial resources should be devoted to, to make the NPISS practical.

In addition to the library and information works in libraries and information centres, the NPISS encompasses other specialized information services such as statistical, extension, standards and patent information services.  It also includes utilization of information infrastructure like telecommunication, mass media, and information technologies for the improvement of information systems and services.



4.1.      The role of information in national development and, need for the NPISS and its integration to the national development plan

Information is equally important as other natural and human resources of a country.  It is comparable to skilled manpower, mineral wealth, agricultural and industrial capabilities.  Governments formulate and implement policy regarding the various resources of their nation.  This is basically to pave the way for the proper and optimal utilization of these resources.  When we talk of a national policy on information systems and services, the same reason remains true, i.e. countries require a consistent and coherent information policy for a modes generation, collection, organization and optimal utilization of information.

Increasingly, information is recognized by policy-makers, planners and administrators as indispensable for decision making process essential to development.  The capacity to utilize knowledge and information has become a source of power and the potential for material wealth and social well-being as societies develop.

There are clearly expressed demands in various sectors to obtain a considerable input of timely, up-to-date, and accurate information support to the development of their respective economic and, scientific and technological activities.  The policy on information systems and services is therefore required to ensure that the information requirements of the various groups of people who use and generate information (scientists, engineers, managers, decision-makers, students, etc.) in the respective sectors of the economy, under which the above group of people are operating, are met.  A national policy also makes possible the generation and utilization of information in a reasonable and optimal way without unnecessary duplication of resources - material, financial and manpower resources.  Proper utilization of information resources means efficient utilization of one of the scarce resources of a country.

In addition to its contribution to the promotion of economic growth and development, and science and technology capability, information resource plays a major role in developing information sector in which production and/or provision of information goods and services are involved, and also enhance information occupation.  Hence, national recognition of the scientific and technological, social and economic importance of information needs to be achieved.  And also drawing attention to this fact and stimulating much needed debate about the issues involved is required through such approach as the preparation of a framework on the policy on information systems and services.

In general, NPIS would (1) provide guidelines for action towards the promotion and systematic development of information services that is in keeping with the nation's social, economic, cultural, scientific and technical development goals, (2) give frame works for the formulation and proper execution of the plans put forward in various sectors regarding information support, and its integration to the sectoral plan in particular and the national development plan in general, and (3) help to ensure the provision of policy instruments which would strengthen the activities and coordination mechanisms in information and documentation activities.

Even though great role that information will have to play for development o the various sectors, and the establishment and strengthening of information service bodies are stated by a number of institutions, there does not yet exist any systematic coordinating and integrating mechanisms or guidelines such as NPIS.  Therefore, it is evident that great effort should be put into its formulation, integration, implementation ad operation.  When it is being formulated, it should be born in mind that it must fit into the national development plan.

all these facts imply that a government should be in a position to give due consideration to the formulation, implementation and review of a national policy.  This policy draft is part of that effort.

4.2.   Existing national policies and plans related to information systems and services

4.2.1    National policies and plans

There is no any formal information policy or guideline for the coordination of national effort in the development of the information systems and services.  The seminar organized by the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission in cooperation with the UNESCO in April 1984 was the first effort made on policy aspect.  The seminar created a forum at which the status of information activities and overall understanding of its importance at national and to some extent sectoral level were reviewed.  And was wound up expressing strong feeling for the national recognition of information as a valuable asset for the development and the need for a national policy or guideline.

The National Science and Technology Policy of Ethiopia (draft preparation) is another national level effort which devoted a section to the need of the strengthening of information resources and services in the country.  This issue was discussed under Science and Technology Services Programmes and Projects section of the draft.  And it emphasizes the need to build up user oriented information sources and services, a national network and a coordinating mechanism (2).

The establishment of the National Scientific and Technological Information and Documentation Centre by the ESTC is also a national level effort made towards development of information systems (5).

regarding related policies established at national level, there is a Copyright Law under Literary and Artistic Ownership in the Ethiopian Civil Code of 1960 (appendix 5.1).  A Deposit law of printed matters administered by the National Library and Archives is also in service since 1975; however, it is noted by the professionals working in the Ethiopian Collection Section that there has been problems in the implementation and enforcement of the law.  From an informal communication, formulation of a National Policy on Documentation and Preservation of National Archives is underway by experts in the National Library and Archives.

From the above brief review of the measures taken at the national level so far, it is clear that much work is expected ahead of the responsible authorities and information professionals.

4.2.2    Sectoral policies and plans

Although it is often said that one of the major constraints in most sectors is the lack of efficient and reliable data and information services, there is no any sectoral policy and plan, except in Science and Technology, Mining and Energy, and Higher Education, in which establishment and strengthening of information systems and services are directly included in their sectoral policies.  Despite the absence of information related issues at the sectoral level, some institutional level plans and activities reveal an encouraging progress towards sectoral level recognition.  The Institute of Agricultural Research is a good example of such institutions.  In most sectors information activities and the required resources are linked with general services in which information may not be considered as a vital means to be utilized for the development of the sector in question.

Based on the assessment made by the Ethiopian Science and Technology commission, the current level of development of the interrelated sectors such as telecommunication, transport and Post are below the minimum requirement expected.  However, the development plans and the pace of development of these sectors indicate a promising potential to be utilized in the field of data transmission, document transportation, etc.  (more information on this section is in the Part I document).

With regard to the issues of Informatics, the responsibility is entrusted to the National Computer Centre of the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission.  There is very little exercise on the subject.  A National Committee, chaired by the Commissioner for Science and Technology, was established in 1986 with the following aims (personal communication:

        to ensure whether the importation of computers conform to the overall development programmes and economic capability of the country,

        to ensure the quality, reliability, flexibility and effectiveness of computers for the type of activities and work load required,

        to ensure effective utilization of scarce foreign currency resources for computer technology,

        to create a centralized system of purchasing and registry of computers,

        to evaluate the performances of computers after they are put into services,

        to ensure the availability of the necessary services and maintenance in the country, and

        to prepare a national computerization policy for subsequent government approval.


Among the computer companies whose agents are based on the country for the distribution of their product include:  NCR, IBM, SERIC, UNISIS, and LIVETTI.

The current control mechanisms are by mans of approval for systems studies, systems specifications and customs clearance.  It is being applied regardless of the sources of acquisition (purchase or donation), type of ownership (individuals, government, private or international institutions) and size of computers.

In formulating a national policy or guideline, it is very essential to consider national priorities in terms of sectoral areas, user groups to be served and required information resources which are largely derived from national development plan.  Information services, being subordinate to broader national development programmes, must be their nature conform to the broader national and sectoral plans.

Food and agriculture, industry, health, rural development, education, natural resources (water, mineral, etc.), environmental rehabilitation and protection are among the sectors where top priorities are given in the development plan.  Priorities in information activities should also accord to these sectroral areas, both in government, public and private organizations.




In the policy formulation process, policy objectives are used as a guide to every strategic and tactical planning, and programmes to be made.  In setting the objectives, the major principles of information which indicate the importance and application of information for scientific and technical, social, economic and/or political activities of a nation.

From the point of view of an economic resources, one of the basic principles of information is that "information is an economic resource, like other resources, with value and cost of production and it must be managed like other economic resources".  Based on their principle, objectives can be set for the management of information resources, and in turn strategic and tactical plans to meet the objectives can be devised.

There are four basic inputs as the basis for information policy objectives.  These are:

        institutional machinery (organizational framework)


        physical facilities, processes and utilization, and


The following policy objectives may be stated, considering the basic principles of information and the basic inputs to the policy objectives, to fulfill the need for the efficient management and utilization of information resources of the country.



1.      To establish and strengthen structures and mechanisms for planning, budgeting, coordination, management and promotion of the national information and documentation activities, ensuring the smooth growth of the institutional infrastructure for information and documentation, devise a legislative machinery to provide for and promote a coordinate development of information resources.

2.      to develop the gathering or collection, generation, processing and analyzing information and monitoring the development of national information and documentation activities.

3.      To optimize the human, financial, institutional and other information resources for achieving the information support requirements of research and development communities, planers and decision-makers, etc.

4.      To develop national capabilities to utilize information and communication technologies and channels for collection, generation, communication and dissemination of information; and also to conduct research in the field.



5.2.1    Institutional organization, management and coo-operation

  Background and problems

Although the size and the quality of and emphasis given to library and information service body vary from one institution to another, there exist a library in most organizations, and in some to the level of corporations.  The place of libraries or information centres (LICs) in an organizational structure varies ranging from under the Deputy Minister to Public Relation Department.  There is no studied placement of LICs where they can be managed better and provide effective services.  LICs have very low recognition from the management in most cases.  They are not given the capability to plan and budget their activities or less emphasis is given to the implementation stage.

At a national level there is no government body supported by policy instruments such as legislations which enable the coordination, preparation and implementation of policies, standardization, interfacing and harmonization of activities.

Moreover, significant effort has not been made to create forums which can bring professionals and responsible bodies in the field to discuss the development and problems existing in different sectors so as to make cooperation to devise solutions.

Specific Objective

To develop a system, whereby appropriate coordination and cooperation of the various institutions and organizations in the country which are involved in information related activities, is effected and sharing of resources is made possible.

Policy Statement

The Government shall evaluate a national coordinating mechanism supported by appropriate form of policy instruments so as to ensure effective and optimal implementation of the national information policy, projects and programmes in the country in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts and waste of resources in the national information system development and operation, and to promote coordination among various organizations and resource sharing.

Proposed Strategies

1.      Create a national coordinating body and mechanism to coordinate, monitor and promote the planning, development and management of national information resources and services in the country and advise the Government accordingly.

2.      Promote the development and implementation of a structural organization for the entire national system.

3.      Ensure the continuous supply of budget and facilities for sectoral information systems to encourage their information related activities.

4.      Ensure coordination of library and information services within each sector of development by harmonizing the distribution of responsibilities and promoting resource sharing among such services.

5.      Ensure intersectoral coordination to avoid costly duplication in holdings and in services provided.

6.      Formulate and implement appropriate form of policy enforcement, regulatory and administrative procedures conductive to a sustained and coordinated growth of national information resources and services, and also for the regular assessment of the system including the adequacy of the policy and correction of any deficiencies thereafter.

7.      Translate the NPISS into a plan of action and specific programme activities;

8.      Establish a national information system coordination mechanism supported by appropriate policy instrument; and

9.      Prepare structure, functions and budgets for the coordination system; and the following proposal on structure and functions may give a skeletal work for future elaboration:

 9.1    The National Information System (NIS) is composed of National    Information Council (NIC), the focal point, the advisory group and sectoral information system and service.

9.1.1    National Information Council

The NIC should be the apex body to make policy decisions related to the National Information Systems and Services. The Composition of NIC

The National Information Council should be composed of one member from each of the priority sector at the viceministeral level, and a member-representative of the Advisory Committee, preferably its Chairman or the secretary.  The Chairman of the Council will be the commissioner of the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission (ESTC); and the secretary to the council will be the Director of National Scientific and Technological Information and Documentation Centre (NSTIDC). The functions of NIC

1.      Ratification and endorsement of the policy document,

2.      Develop a strategy for the inclusion of an information component with a separate budget lien in all sectoral and national development plans and programmes;

3.      Adopt methods and procedures which would ensure that the government provide support to the development, operation, and coordination of information, Informatics and systems infrastructures, policies and plans

4.      Propose legislations and principles to facilitate access to information resources and services available in the country and abroad;

5.      Perform all the policy and decision making functions regarding the national information system to ensure the coordination and implementation of the policy;

6.      Set-up administrative procedures for the national registration of all data and information generated in the country;

7.      Assign priorities to the various policy issues;

8.      Identify the sources of and recommend to allocate funds for the implementation of the national programme;

9.      Identify and improve the structure, function and budgets of the NIS and Services;

10.  Identify priority areas, programmes and activities and formulate and implement National Plan of Action;

11.  Monitor and evaluate the performances of National Information Systems and Services.

9.1.2    The Focal Point

The focal point of this system should be the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission (ESTC).  The ESTC should act as a supervisory and coordinating body.  The NSTIDC would be the focal point's interactive Centre with the UN agencies and other regional and international organizations. The function of the focal point

1.      Select suitable strategies to achieve the various objectives of the policy within a given period of time and with the guidance of the focal point; the NIC;

2.      Design orientation programmes periodically to sensitize top-level officials to the concept of information and data as a primary resource for their areas of activity and the national development;

3.      Disseminate information on national policy on information systems and services, plans and their implementation;

4.      Ensure the implementation of programmes and activities in support to the policy and plan of the country through the preparation and dissemination guidelines, criteria and standards;

5.      Ensure cost-effectiveness of information activities by supporting measures to improve coordination of the development and management of information resources among the various national institutions;

6.      Encourage education, training and research for the advancement of information resources and services, and dissemination of relevant results;

7.      Assess resources of the various components of the national information services, such as sectoral information systems and specialized sub-networks;

8.      Adopt resource-sharing principles, modalities and tools on cost-sharing and pricing of services within sectors and at national level;

9.      Support cooperation programmes with regional and international information institutions; serves a centre for costly information sources requiring centralized processing, retrieval and distribution;

10.  Set-up measures to assist the users in applying effectively the specialized data and information resources and services to their needs;

11.  Establish procedures for providing large diffusion of and circulation of the information and experiences acquired through cooperation with and participation in regional and international programmes, meetings, visits, etc. on information science and technologies, documentation, information systems and services;


9.1.3    The Advisory Group

This group will be composed of specialized expertise on information science, documentation and computer science for different sectors. The functions of the advisory group

1.      Provide data on the various activities and physical and human resources available for the development and operation of information services;

2.      Provide data on costs and benefits of information activities (information marketing);

3.      Identify the needs for information resources and services in the priority areas of the national economy;

4.      Recommend information programmes and projects, and measures for correcting information deficiencies;

9.11.4  Sectoral Information Systems and Services

Information institutions of the different sectors should participate in the national system through their representatives.  The participating institutions should observe and conform to an agree-up on set of policies, procedures, standards and practices.  In their participation in the system, information service bodies of the various institutions should have the following functions (1):-

1.      Actively participate in the plans of actions and programmes of the national information system designed and coordinated by the focal point;

2.      Adopt strategies of the national policy on information systems and services to develop their respective information resources and services;

3.      Assess their respective sectoral or institutional information service clientele and of its requirements vis--vis repositories of data and/or information on areas of interest;

4.      Identify principal sources and repositories of information relevant to the sectoral or institutional clientele and its requirements;

5.      Utilize different user access mechanisms to existing data ad information repositories and stores in their institutions and sectors, and in the nation.

5.2.2    Manpower development

Background and problems

The need for trained manpower in libraries, information and documentation centres is growing considerably both quantitatively and qualitatively.  This is related with the development of collections, the diversification of information products and services, the development made in the information storage, processing and dissemination technologies.  Accordingly, libraries and information centres require not only qualified librarians but also trained staff in information science and technology, communication technology, microcopying, reprography, audiovisual techniques, management, etc.  Development of manpower requires plans to meet the actual and foreseen need of a library and information or documentation centre.

The lack of appropriately trained personnel to meet the existing requirement of libraries/information centres is one of the major factors that hinder development of information products and services.  This problem is highly felt especially in the area of computerized systems.

Professional status and career opportunities for information professionals and sub-professionals have been limited and this imposes indirect impact on the development of libraries and information Centres.

Policy Objective

To develop information manpower of all categories required to meet the ever increasing demand for skilled personnel that shall ensure effective management of the country's information resources and services.

Policy Statement

The Government shall promote and support the training of information workers at all levels, give appropriate professional status, recognition and professional development opportunities, to fulfill the country's manpower needs in library or information fields.

Proposed Strategies

1.      Conduct regular studies to assess and determine the country's manpower requirement for information professionals at different levels of qualifications (certificate, diploma, graduate and post-graduate).

2.      Ensure that training institutions develop study programmes and curricula in accordance with identified manpower needs for library and information professionals.

3.      Support training institutions in their effort to develop capabilities (manpower, facility, infrastructure) that enables them launch new programmes or strengthen the existing ones.

4.      Improve career prospects for librarians and information professionals in government, public and private sectors.

5.      Ensure that libraries, archives, information and documentation units in any organization are staffed by suitably trained personnel.

6.      Establish job classification schemes, pay plans and status for the library and information professionals, identify types and levels of skills needed, necessary qualifications, experiences, responsibilities and salary ranges for each category.

7.      Develop and strengthen on-the-job training, short-term courses, study-tour programmes, workshops and seminars on general as well as specific information issues.

8.      Promote and support bilateral and international agreements and assistance, scholarship schemes for overseas studies in information and related fields.

9.      Support the development of a strong professional society that shall be capable of mobilizing libraries and information professionals in the country.

10.  Encourage and support local constancy services.


5.2.3    Generation of information

Background and problems

Generation of information especially in S&T fields is contributed mainly from the sectors such as health, agriculture, and higher education.  There are less than 10 - professional journals and bulletins, and very few newsletters prodded in Ethiopia.  Annual and technical reports such as field or survey reports are information generated from many institutions, and such reports are found as an unpublished documents.

Absence of reputed journals in a number of fields made many research articles appear in foreign journals which may not be accessed by most of our users.  Absence of S&T publishers and technical editors, qualified translator also affects the capability of information generation.

Joint R&D activities between R&D institutions and industries, increase in the number of professional associations, increase in the post graduate training fields are some of the promising potentials for future increment in quantity and quality of information generation.

Specific Objective

To encourage and promote the indigenous capability of generating information in all fields of knowledge (scientific, technical, literary, etc.) and ensure support for the creation of conducive conditions for generators (original or translation) and the development of infrastructure for the quality of printing and wide range of publishing areas.

Policy Statements

The Government shall support the indigenous generation of information by encouraging nation's creative professionals to generate and translate information in the past, and existing development and problems, future prospects, etc., related to sectors given priorities, and also strengthen the capability of publishers and quality of printing.

Proposed Strategies

1.      The actual areas from which useful information are generating should be strengthened and expanded, and the potential areas should also be identified and stimulated.

2.      The various areas where relevant information are available in foreign languages requiring translation should be identified.  Based on the need, qualified translators should be encouraged and increased in number.

3.      The Government should manage and support training programmes in writing and editing activities for professionals.

4.      the quality of information generated and the media carrying such information should be improved.

5.      Packaging and repackaging of information and critical reviews of information from various sources should be encouraged and supported.

6.      Import levy on raw materials for book production should be waived so that the availability of supplies will facilitate production and cost of production.

7.      The printing agencies should continue coping with the current demand of printing services.

8.      The publishing agencies should increase in number, strengthen and widen the areas of publishing especially by organizing competent technical editors.

9.      Scientific research publishing funds should be acquired for assisting the existing local journals and establishing new ones in active research areas.

10.  Supporting and strengthening professional associations to coordinate and organize the generation and publishing of research results.

5.2.4.   Collection of information

Background and problems

Books, documents and periodicals are the major sources of information collected in all libraries and information centres.  Obtaining particularly books and journals.  Almost all of the books and journals are purchased and subscribed in foreign currency.  Foreign donations (money or sources of information) is becoming the major source of collection development especially in large libraries and information centres.  Hence, there is an acute problem of continuity in subscription of journals in the country.  Less attention has been given to collect sources of information such as microforms and electronic databases.  Collection of information sources through exchange mechanisms is nearly none.  Exceptionally, the Ethiopian Medical Association is receiving over 90 reputed medical journals form outside Ethiopia in the Association.  In addition to the inadequate of collection both in quantity and quality in all libraries and information centres, clearly defined acquisition/collection policy is lacking except in Addis Ababa University library system.

Specific Objective

To develop an appropriate mechanism to acquire or collect data/information in all fields which support the national effort for development, both published and unpublished (grey literature) in any form generated locally or abroad through grants, gifts, exchange and purchases.

Policy Statement

Each and every libraries or information centres (LICs) shall selectively acquire or collect (local and foreign) data/information in all available but useful forms on the basis of user needs, and the Government shall render financial provisions.

Proposed Strategies

1.      Each and every sectoral LICs should identify the information needs of their actual and potential uses and necessary information of relevance to the sectoral objectives and plans.

2.      The LICs should assess and identify the local and external sources of information to satisfy the users' requirements.

3.      The LICs should be able to plan short and long term plans in which the allocation of budget to acquire information sources in all forms (hardcopy, electronic, microforms, etc.) should be considered as a major area of their plan.

4.      The LICs should establish a library loan and information network system with other similar and appropriate LICs to share their resources by using appropriate information and document delivery mechanisms.

5.      The NSTIDC shall coordinate-ordinate the sectoral information systems and compile a referral index so as to help the sectoral systems and other users identify locally available sources which can be shared.

6.      The LICs should identify and request cooperative-operative organizations or associations which can cooperate-operate in the field of library or information including collection development.

7.      Similar to the National Deposit Law of Printed materials for which the National Library is responsible, the unpublished research results, workshops and conference proceedings should be collected, organized and be available to users.

5.2.5.   Organization, storage and retrieval of information

Background and problems

The traditional library classification and cataloging systems are the means of organization of sources of information.  Author, title and subject indexes on card catalogue are the entry points to search and retrieve documents.  DDC, UDC, LC for books, ISO classification for standards, Mineral Intelligence system for technical reports on minerals, Maps Library Classification for maps, US Geological survey classification system are the systems currently used in different sectors.

Other information storage and retrieval systems like electronic and optical systems are used in few institutions like NSTIDC, Institute of Agricultural Research, Addis Ababa University and recently by Ethiopian Standards Authority and Ministry of Agriculture.

Shortage of facilities and know-how for effective utilization of the existing systems and application of new technologies are found to be significant constraints in various institutions.

Specific Objective

To improve the existing or develop new system of information organization and storage to facilitate the retrieval of information generated from many fields in different forms and also to retrieve information relevant to the need of the users.

Policy Statement

The LICs shall strengthen the traditional systems and properly apply to classify and catalogue library materials, and also seek to introduce modern information handling systems, where feasible, to provide users with better services.

Proposed Strategies

1.      The relevant international bibliographic methods, guidelines, norms and standards should be made available in all libraries and information centres.

2.      Encourage the compilation of union catalogue, current R&D activities, the distribution of newsletters, accession bulletins and other lists, recent acquisitions so as to promote resource sharing and interlibrary cooperation-operation.

3.      Based on their need and capability, LICs should strive to introduce emerging technologies and enforce controlled vocabulary indexing system.

4.      LICs which have established computer based information system or planning to do so shall use standard input sheets compatible hardware and software.

5.      Preservation and conservation of scientific and technical materials should be supported and promoted.

6.      The traditional librarians should be given short-term training, workshops and seminars on "modern" methods of organization, storage and retrieval of information.

7.      The training institutions such as the School of Library at the Addis Ababa University should incorporate a course module on modern information storage and retrieval systems, and further investigation should be made to prepare advanced courses at graduate level.

5.2.6.   Information Services and Utilization

Background and Problems

Information services provided by libraries and information centres of government institutions are traditional library services:  reading, reference and loan services.  Accession list is the only publication produced in these institution.  There is no significant effort being made to develop new services by individual institution, however, there is a trend to develop sectoral information systems to establish better means of collecting and disseminating sectoral information.

Although resource sharing system is one of the mechanisms to enhance information services, it is almost non-existent in Ethiopia.  Shortage of skilled manpower is one of the factors which affects the development of information services.  Very low information seeking habit of the society in general is also exhibited.

The assessment and proposals made for S&T popularization in the national S&T policy of Ethiopia indicate that popularization of S&T is one of the ways of disseminating S&T activities and methods to the science and technology information beneficiaries (3).  This therefore implies the potential linkage of some of the future programmes of information systems and services, and popularization of S&T.

Specific Objective

To provide appropriate information services which would support in the national economic development efforts in general and R&D, technology transfer, extension services etc. in particular by developing internal collection and accessing a wide range of information sources through the development of information networks and resource sharing programmes.

Policy Statement

The Government shall support information services including S&T popularization which would provide planners, decision makers, R&D communities, professional and sub-professional societies with timely and accurate information using available means of communication; and also support the activities towards the stimulation of the information seeking behavior of the society and the utilization of reliable information for problem solving and decision making processes.

Proposed Strategies

1.      The information intermediaries should identify and develop major information services necessary for the users, and they should clearly understand and analyze the inquiries of the users.

2.      In order to provide a range of information services, the information services, the information service organizations should develop reasonable collection and manpower, establish local network to share resources, and international network and cooperation-operation (where necessary and feasible) to have access to foreign information sources.

3.      Stimulate and cultivate information seeking skills and effective use of accurate information by planners, decision makers, etc.

4.      The users profile and the nature, and the timeliness of information they require should be identified.

5.      The incoming sources of information (for instance articles in the journals) should be scanned regularly at a certain interval; in this process not only the subject but also forthcoming conferences, meetings and workshops should be included.

6.      Since the users of some of the LICs are located at research stations and branch offices at remote areas, information services should be provided through existing communication media such as media, postal services, telephone and computer communication.

7.      Create links with the S&T information and popularization services (if there exists) and design joint projects and programmes which would contribute to the development of information systems and services;

8.      Promoting popularization of S&T activities such as creation and strengthening of science clubs, organization of science exhibition and fairs, production and utilization of S&T films, strengthening S&T associations. etc.

9.      Organizing specialized information services on patents and technology transfer to provide data and/or information such as the description of technology, users, advantages and disadvantages, production volume and value, costs, investment, labor, etc. with different levels of details for different users;

10.  Similar to the university-industry cooperation-operation in the areas of research land training geared to the national production sector, cooperation in the organization and use of specialized information, application of information processing and databases tailored to specific needs and shared resources should be established between the university and industry, and among other institutions.

11.  LICs should formulate and implement appropriate rules and regulations, and procedures to provide information services for both internal and external users.

12.  Organizing conferences, seminars and workshops for disseminating information on the on-going research and unpublished results, and thereby obtain copies of papers gathered from the forum and make available to users.

13.  Evaluating the impact of information disseminated through various systems such as mass media.

14.  Information marketing is a concept that needs to be well understood by library and information professionals.  It helps information professionals to have better idea that information is a commodity and its products/services should be viewed in terms of marketing plan and strategies.  Information marketing plays role to bridge the gap between the information needs of users and information resources requirement and associated activities.  Hence, it may direct manpower requirement and adjustment of information infrastructure.

Information marketing is more than just selling and it may cover the following:

        users and/or generators,

        information resources,

        product/services, and


Information products/services cycle and components of information marketing may be depicted as the next diagram:


As can be seen form the diagram, information marketing involves four interacting components.  the activities related to each component in information marketing can be summarized as follows:

Information users and/or generators

Identification of concrete and potential information users and their needs, and services that would satisfy their needs are the major activities of this component.  It is a stage where market place is investigated applying various market research techniques.  One should therefore, analyses the requirements, utilization and generation of information.  It also shows that information users can be generators of information and/or seekers for new information.

Information resources

Identification of resources needs to produce the required information products/services is the central aim of this component information resources include sources of information, human and financial resources and physical facilities such as computer, reprographic and binding equipment, etc.

Information production

This component of information marketing involves organizing and utilizing the resources to meet the needs, designing the products or services chosen, processing and producing the desired products/services.

Information products/services distribution

This is the step where promotion of the products/services, mechanisms of supply and pricing (if applicable) can be determined.  Promotion can be effected through several ways, some of the techniques are:

        direct mail

        personal contacts

        invitation to visit

        producing descriptive brochure, newsletter, etc.



        organizing as well as participating in seminars, workshops, etc.

Good quality presentation and selection of appropriate means of distribution have important effect on the utilization of the information products/services.

With regard to charging policy for information products/services, there are moves pros and against pricing.  Price setting is a problem for many information workers because there exists a tradition that information is free and it is difficult to put a value on information itself.  In addition, the advocating of universal availability of publication sand the right to access for information also leads that information products/services should be free of charge or available at nominal cost.  On the other hand, information products/services are one of the costly commodities being marketed relocating information can be priced and marketed.  The dependency on information is increasing worldwide and the service sector, in which information generation, production and distribution constitutes important part of an economy, (especially in industrialized countries), is growing rapidly as well as the cost of information is rising unpredictably.

Even if it is difficult to demonstrate cost-benefit in information work, it should be able to show a clear-cut, positive and sensible basis, and the products/services are cost effective.

Generally, information marketing should be guided by marketing plan and periodic evaluation of the effectiveness of the utilized resources, techniques, users' needs, and quality and quantity of products/services.  There must at least be marketing policy for all library and information products/services that would direct the formulation of information systems strategy mainly to be able to meet all or some of the following:

a.       produce demand based information service,

b.      promote various information services,

c.       create demand/need, and

d.      generate income that would help in meeting objective b, create employment and supply adequate information services.

In order to evolve a mechanism whereby revenue can be earned form information products/services, the following marketing strategy may be taken into account:

        selecting information products/services generated through government funding or otherwise may be priced to effect the costs in part,

        actions may be taken, collectively or by individual or institutions, to attract private investments on information industry,

        allowing private enterprises to use information resources and infrastructures of government and government supported institution on reasonable terms,

        the responsibility of government information may also be given to the private enterprises,

        since building up of modern information services would require active participation of users (individuals and institutions) and investors, linkage and closer communication with and between them should be established and strengthened,

        individuals who need to undertake business of information should possess,

        understanding of the power and value of information,

        good business sense,

        ability to understand the actual needs of chants, which are not necessarily the stated needs,

        skills in interviewing, communicating and listening,

        adaptability to new situation,

        ability to organize concepts as well as things,

        ability to  thesis and analyze information,

        ability to interpret information and repackage it,

        ability to train and work with staff who are not information professions,

        administrative ability and business experience, research experience,

        ability to relate to the client,

        knowledge of application of information technologies,

        ability to work independently,

        ability to take advice as well as give it, etc.

5.2.7.   Facilities and equipment

Background and problems

the basic facilities of libraries, information and documentation centres include the premises, the internal arrangement and basic installations (lighting, electricity, water supply, safety devices, etc.), furniture, various types of equipment printing, reprography, microcopying, telecommunication, means of transport, and the production and exploitation of audio-visual documents.

The premises occupied by most of the libraries in the country were not purposely built; therefore, they lack many qualities required to host a library, academic institution libraries are exception in this regard.

The problem with regard to equipment especially reprographic, typing, binding, printing and card catalogue duplicating equipment is severe.  As the need for automation and networking is increasingly recognized by many libraries and information units the problems associated with acquisition of electronic data processing and communication equipment cannot be overlooked.

Policy Objective

To furnish Ethiopian Libraries, information and documentation units with the necessary equipment and facilities that will facilitate the prepare management of information resources and improve the quality of information services.

Policy Statement

It shall be Government policy to encourage and support the modernization, design, acquisition and proper utilization of facilities and equipment (including information handling techniques and technologies), from both domestic as well s foreign sources, as far as the country's financial resources allows.

Proposed Strategies

1.      Review policy issues and strategies to facilitate the development, application and utilization of telecommunications, computer technology, audio-visual, photocopying, printing, binding materials and equipment,

2.      Design programmes to study all aspects of the utilization of information technology such as franchise for the provision of commercial communication services, cost and price for data and facsimile transmissions, introduction of video-text, copyright legislation for machine-readable databanks; transborder data flow, storage of sensitive information in machine-readable format, etc.,

3.      Formulate criteria for the testing and adoption of information technology to the country's information systems,

4.      Compile, maintain and update domestic and foreign furniture and equipment catalogues,

5.      Ensure that whether a piece of furniture or equipment or its equivalent is available or not in a domestic market before order is put to foreign dealers or manufacturers.

6.      Prepare and implement clean and detail bid specifications that make procurement of furniture and equipment, based on competitive bidding,

7.      Ensure that selection of furniture and equipment based on the following primary factors:

a.       economy and ease of maintenance should be considered

b.      flexibility of arrangement is desirable, built in furniture and equipment should be minimized as these are not easily moved or expanded in the future

c.       whenever possible, book shelving should be standardized so that the parts can easily be interchangeable.  Furniture and other equipment should also be purchased in groups of uniform sizes.  Tables, chairs counters and desks lend themselves to such treatment

d.      purchase of computer hardware and software, and telecommunication equipment should conform to the standardization requirement of the country

e.       comfort, durability and variety should be sought, especially in furniture, although durability should apply to equipment as well

f.        other ergonomic factors should also be taken into account

8.      Encourage and support design and redesign of library, information and documentation units buildings and at the same time ensure that information professionals (who could contribute knowledge and understanding of the social and technical relationships, organizational structure, procedures and practices of the particular environment) are involved in the design process.

5.2.8   Standardization of processes and facilities

Background and problems

In the field of information and documentation, standardization is just as vital as in the other fields.  Indeed, its importance is increased as a result of cooperation between libraries, information and documentation centres.  It affects their equipment, their documentary products and their intellectual tools and makes it possible to simplify and rationalize their methods and techniques and harmonize their products.  This in turn facilitates documentary operations, reduced costs, cuts down delays and permits exchange.

Except in the case of bibliographic descriptions where libraries and information units adopt international methods, there procedures and methods, and acquisition of information processing equipment and facilities.  The development and adoption of standards in this field is becoming highly important when the need for cooperation in general and national information networking in particular is felt more than ever.

Policy Objective

To develop, acquire and adopt standard information processing procedures, norms, formats and facilities to be used at all levels of information processing activities (i.e. from collection to dissemination) so that resource sharing in general and information exchange in particular could be secured.

Policy Statement

The government shall promote the development and/or acquisition of flexible standard information processing methods and facilities and their ultimate pursuance by all members information and documentation units in the national information network to effect or ensure compatibility.

Policy Strategies

1.      Pursue internationally recognized library cataloguing and classification rules and coding systems (like International Standard Book Number (ISBN), and Serial Number (ISSN), Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number, Universal Decimal Classification Schedules (UDC), etc., for books and periodicals.

2.      Develop and ensure implementation of document processing rules and provide members with manuals, input formats, training courses, etc.

3.      Develop and/or adopt national standard index and information retrieval languages for different subject areas.

4.      Develop and ensure implementation of standard data collection formats on general as well as specific subjects (like on-going R&D projects, specialized institutions, directory of experts, specialized information sources, user statistics, etc.).

5.      Adopt and implement internationally agreed-upon transliteration methodologies.

6.      Recommend and support the use of same or compatible information processing software packages to facilitate data transfer.

7.      Ensure that the acquisition of data processing equipment, and telecommunication facilities shall be based upon compatibility and support of the national information network.

5.2.9.   Networking

Background and problems

Experiences show that networking is an important part of service provision in libraries and information centres participating in cooperative and shared schemes.  Such schemes use distance communication for shared cataloguing, interlibrary loans, on-line information retrieval, etc.

The concept of resource sharing in library or information centres, i.e. the total library and information resources - of materials, systems and staff expertise - as the public information utility, is at its very low stage in Ethiopia.  Efforts are being made to create awareness about information exchange uses and mechanisms such as interlibrary lending systems.

The utilization of electronic data/information transmission or communication is also very low except in airlines, banking and international institutions.  Step by step, development of the application of electronic network among the major sectors is being studied by the NSTIDC.

Specific Objective

To prepare and implement a plan of action for establishing a national information network which is based on both manual and electronic means for exchange of data and information, coordinating the various systems and services, identifying and correcting deficiencies, filling in gaps, and interacting with external library and resource sharing programmes.

Policy Statement

The Government shall support and promote the creation of an information network which can make easy access to and exchange of data and information with national, regional and international systems and services; and ensure that people of all categories in all localities have easy access to a wide range of information sources through the development of information networks and resource sharing programmes.

Proposed Strategies

1.      Ensure the identification of potential sectoral areas to be included in the network as participating nodes.

2.      Promote the investigation of the available equipment, facilities and manpower in the selected nodes at a regular basis, and bridge the gap that may exist.

3.      allow the adoption of modern technology (such as telematics facilities) to establish the network at national and international level.

4.      Encourage the compilation of union catalogues, etc. so as to promote resource sharing and interlibrary cooperation.

5.      Ensure the development of a mechanism by which efficient exchange of resources is effected in the network.

6.      Ensure the development of the existing infrastructure for networking and the coordination of the information service capability of participating nodes.

7.      Ensure and support the utilization of existing communication services (such as telecommunication and postal services) and devising new ones so s to promote networking.

8.      Promote the identification of external information systems and services and their inclusion in the network.

5.2.10. International cooperation

Background and problems

Greater global attention has been given to the universal availability of information, development of national and regional information systems, and the provision of necessary support through international cooperation.  The initiatives taken and role played by the UNESCO to promote easier access to information and establish national, regional and international focal points and networks especially for science and technology information and documentation activities have produced encouraging result particularly in developing countries.

The establishment of the Pan-African Development Information System (PADIS) and sub-regional coordinating bodies which laid promising basis to develop strong cooperation among African countries is one of the endeavors in the move.

United National and other national organizations are cooperating with Ethiopian institutions in the development of information systems in different sectors.

Ethiopia has established the NSTIDC that acts as a national focal point in the regional and international cooperation programmes in S&T information system.  Similarly, the Institute of Agricultural Research is acting as national focal point for AGRIS of FAO.

Bilateral information exchange on various subjects exist between national, regional and international organizations, and government institutions.

The participation in the activities of similar national and international professional associations is coming difficult due to lack of funds for such as membership and subscription of some of their publications.

Specific Objective

To enhance and strengthen relationships and cooperation with organizations regionally and international, for exchange of information resources and expenses as well as for seeking financial assistance and material support.

Policy Statement

The Government shall promote the creation of bilateral relations and cooperation with potential organizations which generate, process, store and/or disseminate information at international level and those which promote the development of library and information resources and services.

Proposed Strategies

1.      Ensure the identification of areas of cooperation and organizations at regional and international level.

2.      Promote the making of institutional contacts with relevant bodies to facilitate the exchange of resources and professional ideas.

3.      Ensure continuous financial support for effective implementation of the plan of action for international cooperation.

4.      Encourage the adoption of new and appropriate methods and techniques developed internationally.

5.2.11. Research and Development

Background and problems

Research in the field of library and information is totally absent and the trend towards such aims are extremely low.  User information needs, information seeking behavior, effectiveness or information storage and retrieval systems and information services are among the areas required to be investigated.

Shortage of skilled manpower, absence of encouraging environment in the occupation and lack of enough skill in research methodologies in the field have substantial negative influence on the development of research.

Specific Objective

To promote and develop indigenous capability of producing new ideas, methods and techniques through research and development which can suit local conditions and solve domestic problems, and to create professional satisfaction for people in the field of information.

Policy Statement

The Government shall encourage and support R&D activities in the field of information and strengthen the national capability to develop research programmes and projects in the field.

Proposed Strategies

1.      Encourage the participation of professionals to conduct research and development activities on problem areas in all phases of the information cycle right form its generation to its utilization by users.

2.      Ensure the identification of problem areas of study (such as user studies).

3.      Ensure that all research projects and programmes are aimed at solving local problems. met national needs, and enhance the development of professional knowledge.

4.      Ensure persistent financial and material support for R&D activities in the field of information.

5.      Ensure the inclusion of research methods courses in the curricula for library and information sciences.

Encourage the publication of research results to be effectively used by researchers in the field and to popularize the professional activities through appropriate embed.


1.      Academy of Scientific Research and Technology.  Development guidelines for sectoral information services.  Cairo, 1983.

2.      Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission,.  Proceedings of the first national conference on science and technology policy of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, 20-25 June 1988, pp. 269-270.

3.      Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission.  Proceedings of the first national conference on science and technology policy of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, 20-25 June 1988, pp. 271-279.

4.      Ingangi.  Science and Technology in Botswana 1984:  a design of a national information system for science and technology.  Gaborne, 1984.

5.      Seetharaman.  Planning and establishment of a national scientific and technological information and documentation centre:  a project report prepared for the Ethiopian S&T Commission.  Addis Ababa, 1987.

6.      Pan African Development Information System.  Issues pertaining to national information policies in Africa:  a paper presented to the Seminar on National Information and Informatics Policies in Africa.  29 Nov. 1 Dec. 1988.

7.      Vasile Taraboi.  Organization, functions and activities of a national documentary information systems in the scientific, technical and economic fields.  Office for scientific organizing problems and Labour ILFOV.  Romania, 1973.

8.      Victor Montiviloff.  national Information Policies:  a handbook on the formulation, approval, implementation and operation of a national policy on information.  UNESCO, 1990.