African universities face new Internet challenges

African universities are facing a new digital challenge - it is no longer access to the Internet that is the problem - it is its use, according to Jonathan Harle, programme officer for the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).

In his report "Digital resources for research: a review of access and use in African universities" he explained that "With infrastructure and facilities steadily improving … addressing the use of, rather than access to, electronic resources should perhaps receive greater attention".

"Users must be given the skills to identify and locate what they need for their work," writes Harle. He says the ability of African scholars to publish and contribute information is critical to redressing the prevailing imbalance, where Africa is a consumer but not a contributor of information and knowledge. Although bandwidth and slow connections continue to be a problem, priority should now be given to training staff, particularly in ICT and web skills.

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