Preserving the digital heritage of public institutions in Ghana in the wake of electronic government

Date21 November 2016
Published date21 November 2016
AuthorKofi Koranteng Adu,Patrick Ngulube
Preserving the digital heritage of
public institutions in Ghana in the
wake of electronic government
Kofi Koranteng Adu
Department of Information Science, University of South Africa,
Pretoria, South Africa, and
Patrick Ngulube
Department of Interdisciplinary Research and Postgraduate Studies,
University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine digital preservation of e-government in Ghana
under the research question: what are the current digital preservation strategies being deployed across
the ministries and agencies in Ghana?
Design/methodology/approach Guided by a conceptual framework, underpinned by a
quantitative approach, the paper uses the survey approach, to address the digital preservation
strategies deployed across public sector organisations in Ghana. It underscores the link between the
conceptual framework and the literature to analyse the various digital preservation strategies.
Findings Backup strategy, migration, metadata and trusted repositories were noted as the most
widely implemented preservation strategies across the ministries and agencies. On the other hand,
cloud computing, refreshing and emulation were the least implemented strategies used to address the
digital preservation challenges.
Research limitations/implications The paper adds to the existing conceptual underpinnings
that have dominated the debate about data management, archival storage, preservation strategies,
challenges and best practices of digital preservation of e-government.
Originality/value This study draws its originality from the evidence of studies on digital
preservation in Ghana as most studies have rather focussed on the preservation of documentary
heritage, preservation and security of microfilms, preservation practices in the public records
(Akussah, 2002; Ampofo, 2009; Festus, 2010). The emergence of this study addresses the knowledge
gap in the preservation of digital records in a country where little attention has been accorded to digital
preservation. The study also feeds into Ghanas vision 2020 and the information communication
technology policy document of the ministry of communication which aims at ensuring that Ghanaians
have access to information and communication technology products and services.
Keywords Migration, Cloud computing, Digital preservation, Emulation, Linked open data,
Open Archival Information System
Paper type Case study
1. Introduction
The concept of digital preservation as a growing phenomenon has generated a lot of
currency within the realms of public sector organisations in recent past. Its adoption
has often been occasioned by technological changes (Duranti, 2005), the ephemeral
character of digital data (Barateiro et al., 2012) and a growing shift from paper to
electronic publications (Becker et al., 2009). That notwithstanding, the erratic
developments in computer hardware and software (Hedstrom, 1998) have underscored
the need for an information infrastructure to ensure longevity of public information.
In this regard, various countries have taken the initiative to undertake the preservation
of their digital records. In the USA, Congress enactment of the National Digital
Library Hi Tech
Vol. 34 No. 4, 2016
pp. 748-763
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/LHT-07-2016-0077
Received 12 July 2016
Revised 5 September 2016
Accepted 16 September 2016
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program legislation in December 2000
mandated the Library of Congress to lead a national crusade and nationwide planning
effort for the long-term preservation of digital content. The same can be said of Africa,
where a three-day regional consultation meeting in 2002 with 40 participants from
25 countries at the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa led to the discussion on the
looming dangers of losing digital records. Although, the conference proposed spe cific
techniques and policies to be developed to preserve digital records and standards to
guide governments preservation efforts in the digital age, such proposals have not
inured to the benefit of the continent.
On top of that, The Government of Ghana in June 2003 presented a National ICT for
accelerated development (ICT4AD) policy statement, which was approved by the
Cabinet in early 2004. The ICT4AD strategy was meant to modernise the civil service
through electronic government implementation. ICT4AD set out a road map for
achievinganinformationsocietyandeconomy. It identified information
communication technology (ICT) as one of the process of transforming Ghana into
a predominantly information-rich and knowledge-based economyand has on many
occasions touted the enormous benefits of the ICT revolution that is sweeping the
globe. The policy hinges on the following in improving public sector governme nt.
Among them are the following:
a technology-based knowledge-driven industrial sector;
widespread development and exploitation of ICT within the society to support
the delivery of health, education, governmental and social services;
a population that has access to information and communication technology
products and services;
an economy in which the provision and delivery of goods and services of the key
sectors of the economy are facilitated by information and communication
technologies; and
facilitating government administration and service delivery; and promoting
electronic government and governance.
Although these policies attempt to address the issue of accessibility to information and
recognise the potential role of ICT on national development, very little has been done on
digital preservation infrastructure. Digital preservation aims at ensuring that digital
documents remain accessible to users for a long time and for future generations.
Experts in financial management recognised and acknowledged that well-managed
records systems are vit al to the success of most anti-corruption strategies .
Governments can only be seen to be transparent and accountable to its citizens if
the records they generate are authentic and can be used as evidence to prosecute
corrupt public officials. Certainly, evidence to prosecute public officials can on ly be
operational if there is an infrastructure in place to ensure the longevity of such records.
Such an infrastructure is a type of system where policies govern which documents are
eligible for inclusion in the preservation system; who may place records in the system
and retrieve records from it; what may be done to the records; how long records remain
in the system; and how records are removed from it (InterPARES Project, 2001).
Literature points to technological obsolescence, skills gap, finances and lack of
effective policesas some of the greatest threat to digital preservation (Chen, 2001; Baker,
2014; Kemoni and Wamukoya, 2000; Iwhiwhu, 2005; Egwunyenga, 2009; Dorner, 2009;
heritage of

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