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AUB commits digitization of African audiovisual archives

In its mission of accompanying the African public service audiovisual media, AUB has embarked on the modernization of its archives, which is now necessary. For this purpose, the Union is working to establish an archiving system focused on digitalization of the audiovisual productions of its Member countries' national Radio and Tv stations. The results obtained from the studies, exchanges and research carried out as well as the good quality of the contents give reasons to be optimistic for this project whose cost is estimated at 210.865 Euros (about Cfa 140 millions).

The digitization of AUB’s audiovisual archives currently based in Nairobi, Kenya, was highlighted in the action plan presented to the Executive Board in March 2016. To put this project into reality, a mission led by AUB’s Director General, Mr. Grégoire NDJAKA, travelled to Nairobi in early August, where he was able to witness by himself the state of progress of the work linked to the protection of these archives. This mission came after Mrs. Aydrey KAMSU, Head of Relations with AUB’s Member Organizations travelled to Kenya in April 2017 for the same purpose. Since the beginning of the year2016, AUB has been working hard to modernize its archives. In this vein, a first mission went to Kenya in July last year. For three days, the members of the mission led by Mr. Grégoire NDJAKA, took note of the different contents of these archives, their conservation status and studied with the Curator Mr. Solomon LUVAI, the various options available for the rehabilitation of this important cultural heritage common to all Africa. Three structures had in the past shown their interest in digitizing these contents. These are the National Audiovisual Institute of France, the CCTV of China and a third American partner.

At the end of the Nairobi exchanges, a decision was made to make an initial inventory of the contents and to study the possibilities of digitizing them. A request was then sent to the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), which immediately agreed and decided to release fifteen thousand Euros to INA, the institution in charge of inventorying these contents.

Expertise Two experts, Eric Rault and Alex Roche Dioré were sent to Nairobi for a week, where they visited the archives Centre with the help of AUB’s expertise. The results reached by the INA experts were, on more than one point, edifying. The reading and digitization tests carried out by INA on two U Matic cassettes from the AUR-AUB collection showed that the state of the media made it possible to envisage digitization. This collection is made up of archives recorded on various media such as U Matic, Betacam SP and even VHS. The conservation conditions for these archives were generally good, but needed to be improved. For example, artificial lighting had to be restored by the choice of low UV lamps, tight boxes for transporting media to the viewing room, thermometers to monitor the changes in climate conditions in the room and finally acquire dehumidifiers (Chemical or electrical) to lower humidity at the annual peak precipitation in Nairobi.

High quality content The analysis of the catalogs of the Nairobi archives has shown that they represent the best of the 1990s productions of 35 African countries and not the least: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Senegal, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, Zimbabwe. Considering its functioning at the time, AUB’s centre had the archives that the national television wanted to value. Indeed, the Center functioned on the principle of program exchange, so that, when a channel submitted its contents, that same channel was authorized to borrow and distribute the content submitted by the other television channels. This high quality can also be justified by the fact that between 1986 and 2004, twelve festivals named URTNA SCREEN, with the aim of showing the best programs collected by the Center, were organized by URTNA.

The digitization of these archives therefore has significant costs, which are broken down into infrastructure costs, e.g.: equipment needed for cleaning, digitizing and storing files, installing equipment and software, training of human resources required for digitalized material to go online. The financial evaluation of this operation, according to the INA, is 210,865 Euros or about 140 million FCFA.


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