SA helping digitise African Union historic material

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

By Mish Molakeng 

As South Africa prepares to take over the rotational chairmanship of the African Union (AU) in February 2020, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies is hard at work ensuring that the old archival material of the AU becomes digitally accessible.

Presently, this rich heritage content – dating back to the AU’s formation in 1963 - is stored in archaic analogue tapes, placing it out of the reach of many scholars, researchers, historians, policy makers and ordinary Africans who would want to access this information.

The department is working closely with ZA Central Registry, a South African based company, to create an online streaming platform expected to be known as

“It gives us great pride to be able to support the communications and digital transformation strategy of the African Union. The streaming service is not one isolated service, but a segment of the AU communication strategy,” said Minister Stella Ndabeni- Abrahams.

The domain registration will go a long way towards creating a much-needed and unique African identity for this content, while also aligning the AU with global digital trends. ZA Central Registry is also working on operationalising the Dot Africa Domain name.

In support of these efforts, South African signal distributor Sentech is providing IP-based high definition broadcast signal distribution services that will include Linear broadcast and streaming services from the AU headquarters in Ethiopia, to other African signal broadcasters or service platforms.

This initiative is one of the outcomes arising from landmark agreements adopted the 2019 Sharm El Sheikh Declaration in Egypt.

The declaration, reached between African ministers responsible for communication, information and communication technologies in their respective countries, calls for a special focus on the African Digital Transformation Strategy, the African Union Communication and Advocacy Strategy as well as the Union’s Brand and Communication Style Guideline, which are meant to advance the AU’s Agenda 2063 goals of accelerating innovation and technology. 

“The project is a strategic partnership with the AU and the African community. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate that our vision as a country is to champion unity and social cohesion, not just in South Africa, but also on the continent.

“The project supports infrastructure connectivity, focusing on building an information society and knowledge-based economy while helping to transform Africa’s economies, through job creation and localising the revenue generated in Africa,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.

The Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in April this year, will work closely with its counterparts on the continent to create synergies and work towards achieving these continental ambitions.

President Ramaphosa be will sworn in as chair of the African Union on 9 February 2020 in a ceremony at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. –