African Business Guide
of Bibliographic Control Collection
Scope and Audience Identification,
Evaluation, and Selection Process Selection
Methodology and Guidelines
Africa's vast potential in the global emerging market can no longer
be ignored. With more than 12 percent of the World's population, the
48 nations of Sub-Saharan Africa have a rapidly growing market of
over 800 million consumers offering enormous commercial potential
for U.S. business owners. The continent also offers investors enormous
untapped raw materials and natural resources. According to the Department
of Commerce, in 2000, the U.S. exported more to the sub-Saharan African
countries than to all the states of the former Soviet Union combined,
(Russia included). In 2001, foreign direct investment by the United
States in Africa more than quadrupled to $3.8 billion. It is also
noteworthy to point out that the sub-Saharan African countries supply
18% of American oil needs.
Since the mid-1990s a number of important measures to improve US-African
economic and commercial relations have materialized. In 1994, the
Uruguay Round Agreements Act on Africa directed the Clinton Administration
to develop a trade and development policy toward Africa and to report
on this policy to Congress annually for five years. In 1997, the Administration
launched its Partnership for Economic Growth and Opportunity in Africa
trade initiative, integrating the key objectives of trade incentives
for economic reforms underway in the region, enhanced U.S. economic
engagement, integration of the Africa region into the global trading
system, and support for sustainable economic and social development.1
In 1998, the administration appointed an Assistant U.S. Trade Representative
(USTR) for Africa and a senior advisor for African programs at the
Export-Import Bank.2 In addition, the
Administration hosted the first annual U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Trade
and Economic Cooperation Forum to discuss expanding trade and economic
relations between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa.3
Symbolically, President Clinton's notable trips to Africa in 1996
and 1998 also transformed U.S. relations with the sub-Saharan African
nations. The visits highlighted Africa's opportunities as well as
U.S. support for economic transformations underway in the region.
Complementary to the Partnership Initiatives, a number of legislative
proposals have caused greater attention to be given to emerging economic
and business opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. In May 2000, President
Clinton signed the historic African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA),
an unprecedented trade bill for Africa designed to open the U.S. market
to products made in Africa. The bill is the first ever trade and investment
legislation on Africa to be considered by members of the U.S.Congress.
It introduces a new era of U.S. foreign policy in Africa and establishes
a new paradigm for the development of closer economic ties and constructive
U.S. engagement with the African region.4
The AGOA and greater US-Africa trade and commercial partnerships are
also strongly supported by the U.S. private sector with interests
in Africa and the present Bush Administration.5
At the same time, African government and private sector leaders, regional
organizations, and multilateral development institutions, such as
the African Development Bank Group and the World Bank Group, are establishing
policies and multilateral agreements to facilitate sustainable private
sector economic growth and development in the African nations.6
A major challenge to the U.S. and global business community considering
trade and investment in the sub-Saharan African countries is access
to credible and timely analytical information to make knowlegeable,
definitive business decisions. The growing demand for up-to-date macro-
and microeconomic information on industry trends, business opportunities,
and private sector economies in the African countries is increasing
at a prolific rate. At present, data and information on business and
investment opportunities, planned privatization initiatives, tax and
investment incentives, and economic development policy issues in the
African economies is scattered in multiple data sources, and often
inaccessible. Reliable bibliographic and indexing tools which provide
access to information on the African business and financial sectors
are from complete. Moreover, a great variety of .non-conventional'
literature of, typically of an ephemera nature, such as unpublished
technical reports, working papers, feasiblity studies, and discussion
papers seldom comes under bibliographic control; hence their acquisition
and identification remain problematic. In addition, official publications
about the African private sector and business and industry trends
issued by African governmental bodies and corporate-based research
centers, regional organizations, and international organizations such
as the Economic Commission for Africa and the Africa Development Bank
can very difficult to obtain.
On the Internet, the growing body of African business information
resources remains scattered and largely invisible and researchers
may spend countless frustrating and often unproductive hours. For
instance, finding out what exists and then trying to retrieve it typically
requires not only a series of research avenues, but a substantial
investment of time.
To fill the void that exists where African business and economic
information and analytical data is concerned, and to provide more
substantial services to researchers, there is a need to improve bibliographic
control and access to existing African business-related information
resources available in electronic formats. For purposes of this document,
electronic information sources include Internet sites, World Wide
Web products, and other sources of information that users may directly
access in an electronic format.
This Africa Business Resource Index is an annotated guide to selected
sources of business information on the African countries that can
be found on the Internet. The sampling of information resources have
been identified and evaluated for the ongoing development of a centralized
source or .portal model' of quality Africa-focused business, trade
and investment information resources. In its first version, the Index
will focus on providing access to a collection of Internet resources
for African business and financial information primarily at the continental
or region-specific level; however, some country-specific information
sources may also be included. These citations are only suggested references.
Coverage includes general business directories focused on international
trade, financial, legal, and market information, industry analysis,
basic country economic and statistical data, business and industry
news, stock and currency exchanges, and specialized business journals.
Priority will be given to Internet-based resources which provide
substantial sources of information on African business topics frequently
required by practicing business professionals, decisionmakers in public
and private sectors, students in business, and teachers. Generally,
only resources that are available free of charge on the Internet will
be considered. It should be noted, however, that valuable full text
news, reports, and financial and business information for the countries
of the sub-Saharan African region is also available through searches
of a number of fee-based commercial online bibliographic databases,
including Dialog http://www.dialog.com,
Dow Jones Interactive http://www.dowjones.com,
Lexis Nexis http://www.lexisnexis.com/default.asp,
and the Reuters Business Insight http://www.reutersbusinessinsight.com
Moreover, one should not forget the growing number of specialized
African business publications such as Africa Economic Digest,
Africa Investment Monitor, Africa Research Bulletin:
Economic Series, African Business, African Financing
Review, African Review of Business and Technology, Business
in Africa, Finance Africa, and Journal of African
Business available in traditional print formats. Additionally,
a number of useful reference compendiums including The African
Business Handbook, Africa Banking Directory, African
Stock Exchanges Handbook, Investing In Africa, Major
Companies of Africa South of the Sahara, and World Investment
Directory provide up-to-date information about business opportunities
and trends in the African economies.
The Africa Business Information Resource Index is the outgrowth of
a project under development as part of the Business and Economic Resources
Online program (BEOnline)
undertaken by the Bibliographic Enrichment Advisory Team (BEAT)
of the Cataloging Directorate of the Library of Congress. Established
in 1996 as a pilot project, BEOnline+ is intended to serve as "both
a model and a catalyst for developing approaches to identifying and
providing bibliographic control and access to electronic resources."7
Utilizing BE Online+ and OCLC's Connexion
Service, formerly its Cooperative Online Resource Catalog (CORC),
the electronic information sources that will be evaluated and selected
for the Index will be provided with full MARC cataloging records.
To enhance information retrieval, the minimal identification and retrieval
data will include the title of the Internet resource and its URL address.
Access to the Internet-based reference tool will be available through
the Library of Congress' Science, Technology and Business Division
Website (available on the World Wide Web at http://www.loc.gov/rr/business/african/).
The Internet sources selected for the Index were chosen to give
representational examples of the wide range of electronically stored
materials currently available for researching African business topics.
Depending on the type of information one needs, there are a number
of useful subject directories and searching facilities for finding
quality Internet sites. These resources vary significantly in their
coverage. The following examples provide a good starting point for
effectively identifying relevant websites that may be useful for locating
African business information resources:
- Africa South of the Sahara -- Selected Internet Resources
- African Studies Internet Resources
- Global Edge: International Business Resources
- Union of International Associations
- Web Resources for International Economics and Business
One of the principal challenges facing anyone using electronic resources
for serious information or research purposes is the evaluation of
quality. This Index is intended as a working tool to help manage this
challenge. The selected Internet resources for this project have been
evaluated and selected in accordance with BEOnline+
Selection Criteria8 and current Library
of Congress selection policies as outlined in LC
Collections Policy Statements (CPS)9
and guidelines for print collections of business and economic materials.
In addition, the evaluation
criteria for information in electronic formats established by
the American Library Association's Reference and User Services Association
Machine Assisted Reference Services (ALA RUSA MARS)10
was used to assess the Internet-based resources. Specific selection
criteria considered when evaluating Internet resources included the
- Is content relevant
- Is content of substantial intellectual quality to meet information
needs of intended audience?
- Is content useful for research and instruction?
- What is the reputation, expertise, and credentials of the author(s)/publisher
who produced the source materials?
- How current is the information and how frequent is resource updated?
- Is access to the site free?
- Is site user friendly with an effective interface?
Revisions of the African Business Resource Index are planned on a
continuing basis, as changes in the availability, coverage, and quality
of various Internet-based information resources take place.
1A comprehensive U.S. Trade and Development
Policy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa. A Report Submitted by the President
of the United States to Congress. The Fourth of Five Annual Reports.
December 1993., p. 1.
2In a new demonstration of U.S. Government
commitment, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation committed
nearly 1 billion dollars to African private sector projects.
3 The U.S. Africa-Africa Economic Forum is a cabinet/minister level annual meeting focused on debt relief, development assistance, and measures to improve future U.S.-Africa trade relations.
4 Today, virtually every U.S. Government agency has active programs and initiatives aimed at enhancing U.S. econoic and trade ties with Africa, including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Labor, State, Transportation, and Treasury, as well as agencies such as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
5 The establishment of the Corporate Council on Africa in 1995, with a corporate membership of over 150 major corporations and firms significantly involved in Africa, is indicative of growing U.S. interest in Africa.
6 Adnan Kassar. "Private Sector Growth is Good News Out of Africa." Journal of Commerce. March 23, 2000.
7BEOnline+ Project Details
8Selection Criteria for Internet Resources included in BEOnline Plus
9Collections Policy Statements Library of Congress. Collection Development.
10Criteria for Selection of MARS Best Reference Websites