Africa-Wide Information | National Inquiry Services Centre

Africa-Wide Information

Records: 4 million
Aggregated databases: 50
Period: 19th century-current and and back to 16th Century
Updated: Quarterly
Available format: EBSCOhost

Available on EBSCOhost

About the Database

Compiled by NISC in South Africa,
Africa-Wide Information comprises an aggregation of 50 databases sourced from Africa, Europe and North America. Africa-Wide provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary information which documents research and publications by Africans and about Africa. Africa-Wide covers close to 4 million news articles,  scholarly publications articles, books, reports, theses, citations, and grey literature. Records include article abstracts and some full text with keyword indexing to enhance relevant retrieval. The coverage is comprehensive from the 18th century to current and dates back to the 16th century. Africa-Wide Information is an essential resource for those with an interest in African research and publications and for those doing research in an African context, no matter the subject field.  Africa-Wide information contains pertinent information from all 56 African countries and the surrounding islands, covering such topics as:

  • Agriculture
  • Art
  • Biodiversity
  • Cultural history and heritage
  • Development
  • Drama
  • Economics
  • Health
  • History
  • Industry
  • Legal systems
  • Literature
  • Mining
  • Music
  • Natural resources
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Sport
  • Sport
  • And much more

Bibliographic and full text databases in the collection derive from major African Studies and International specialist African organisations worldwide.


AfricaLit (19th century to current)

Nordic Africa Institute Library was named Library of the Year for 2006 in Sweden.

The AfricaLit database contains literature on modern Africa and covers the entire continent with an emphasis on contemporary history, politics, education, economics and other social sciences as well as African fiction. Language coverage is English, French, German, Portuguese and the Nordic languages. The records are indexed using English terms mainly derived from the Macro thesaurus for Information Processing in the Field of Economic and Social Development.

IBISCUS (1970 to current)

This database is built by a group of compilers in 19 countries, with 54 input centres in Africa, Europe and Canada. It contains development-related information on Francophone Africa. Subjects covered include agriculture, health, economics, transport, environment and society.

African Studies Abstracts (19th Century to current)

The African Studies Centre in Leiden compiles ASA. It has been combined with the African Studies Centre’s library catalogue of books and periodicals. Specialist library and documentation staff of the African Studies Centre have compiled the database. It offers coverage of social, economic and development issues, religion, law, education, modern history and more.

Africa Institute Database (1981 to current)

The Africa Institute based in Pretoria publishes this database. It is an independent, non-profit organisation which has been described as the “Best in Africa, on Africa under one roof”. Its subject coverage includes, political, socio-economic, international and development issues facing contemporary Africa.

The Southern African Database (Sardius) (1961 to 1997)

The staff at Jan Smuts House Library in Johannesburg have compiled this database. Coverage includes political, economic and social research in the SADC region with information on leaders, conflict and conflict resolution, reform, development and foreign relations.

School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) Library Catalogue: Africa (1989 to current)

This is one of the largest and most important library collections of Africana materials in the world. The database covers the continent of Africa, in European and African languages. Topics range from art and architecture, to social and political issues, to economics and law. It also includes the complete list of SOAS serial holdings.

NAMLIT (19th century to current)

The National Library of Namibia compiles this database which includes a comprehensive bibliography of Namibia-related library materials both from Namibia and from abroad.

Media Africa

This database covers significant socio-economic, political, scientific, technical and environmental issues and events in Africa.

Countries covered include Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d' Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The information is sourced from full-text and summaries of newspaper articles, conference proceedings, television and radio broadcasts, periodicals and technical reports.

The material in the database is provided to the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), a US government agency. Analysts from FBIS' domestic and overseas bureaus have monitored timely and important open-source materials, including gray literature for over 60 years.

Sources in South Africa include Business Day, Daily Dispatch, Die Burger, Johannesburg Sunday Times, Mail & Guardian, SAPA (South African Press Association), Saturday Star, Sowetan and The Star.

Natural and Cultural Heritage of Africa (NATCHA)

NISC SA in collaboration with the Naturalist Niche in Port Elizabeth compile this database. It includes 56 000 records covering a period from 1960 and earlier to current. It offers unique current and historical coverage of articles from natural history, zoology, botany and museum journals published in Africa and relating to the continent.

Afro-Tropical Bird Information Retrieval Database (BIRD)

NISC SA compiles this database of more than 78 000 records in collaboration with the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town. It offers comprehensive current and historical coverage of all publications on Afro-Tropical Birds. It also includes some information from the 1800’s.

African Periodicals Exhibit (APEX)

The catalogue is published annually by the African Academy of Sciences in Kenya and sponsored by the Southern African Book Development Education Trust (SABDET), in the UK. APEX lists details of 135 scholarly African serial publications.

Bibliography on Contemporary African Politics and Development (1981 to 1992)

This bibliographic database was produced at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). It is keyword indexed in detail, all the citations are annotated and over half include abstracts. It is derived from both English and French speaking Africa and the database also references illustrations and maps.

Don Africana Collection (16th Century to current)

This includes David Don's original collection of documents donated in 1916. It has been updated constantly since then and relates to Africa south of the Sahara. Subjects covered include African religion, archaeology, art, economics, education, exploration, flora and fauna, geography, history, law, literature, missionary accounts and politics.

The Campbell Collections of the University of Natal, Killie Campbell Africana Library

This collection includes a wide range of published works and an extensive manuscript collection dealing with Southern Africa in general and the Kwa-Zulu Natal Regionin particular. Subjects covered includepolitics, cultural anthropology, African art and 19th and 20th century history.The collection includes important published accounts left by 18th and 19th century explorers and travelers in Africa, as well as Zulu dictionaries, grammar books and published works by early Zulu writers. Highlights include, early South African English literature, theJames Stuart Papers, the Bourquin Papers and accounts and diaries of the Anglo-Zulu War.

Database of Swiss Theses and Dissertation (1897 to current)

This database is compiled by Roger Pfister and is a bibliography that lists Swiss doctoral dissertations on Sub-Saharan Africa.

Africana Books Collective

ABC is a non-profit organisation acting as a supply agent for 45 publishers in 11 countries. This database offers information on nearly 2 000 books by African authors, published in Africa. Hotlinks enable the user to order books directly from ABC.

The Africa Book Centre

This database provides libraries and individual buyers access to books from and about Africa published by 1,000 suppliers from Africa and all around the world. The Africa Book Centre’s Book Review is the best source of current information on the African book industry, carrying information on authors, booksellers, censorship, human rights and publishing. E-mail access is offered to facilitate purchase.

Index to South African Periodicals

This database is compiled by the South African National Library. It covers a period from 1987 to current and includes over 440 400 records from more than 440 South African periodicals. Topics covered include scientific and technical articles, law, education, agriculture and municipal affairs. Academic and popular magazines, reviews and foreign journals covering South African affairs are all included.

South African National Bibliography

This is a comprehensive record of South African publishing compiled by The South African National Library covering a period from 1988 to current. It includes over 82 000 records covering monographs, pamphlets, government publications, maps, microforms, periodicals, newspapers and CD-ROMs in the eleven official languages of South Africa.

National English Literary Museum


The National English Literary Museum (NELM) in Grahamstown provides over 247 800 records from 1990 to current (comprehensive since 1990, retrospective to the 19th century) in six databases:

Select Index to South African Literature in English, Critical Writings
Over 32 100 records include critical articles and books, theses, dissertations, biographies, bibliographies, and book reviews.

Select Index to South African Literature in English, Creative Writings
Over 143 200 records include books, short stories, poems, plays, essays, autobiographies, and travel literature.

NELM, Main Catalogue
Over 18 846 records comprise a bibliographic series on famous South African authors.

Over 35 160 records make up the NELM manuscript holdings, including literary manuscripts, letters, and recorded interviews. Major collections include: Guy Butler, Hjalmar Thesen, Jack Cope ["Contrast"], Dennis Brutus, Eric Pringle, F.T. Prince, Sydney Clouts, Elias Pater, Yvonne Burgess, Sarah Gertrude Millin, Marguerite Poland, Douglas Reid Skinner, Olive Bridgman, James Ambrose Brown, Frank Brownlee, Stuart Cloete, Athol Fugard, and others.

Literary Awards
Over 1 725 records offer information on contest rules, prizes, winners, and judges for 280 South African contests and non-South-African contests open to South African entrants.

A Bibliography of Anglophone Literature and Literary Criticism by Black South Africans
A listing of all the creative literature and works of literary criticism published by South Africans of colour between the years 1800 and 1990.  The list includes only the first known instance of the publication of any such work.  The National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown holds a copy of each of the items listed.


This database is from the Nasionale Afrikaanse Letterkunde Museum en Navorsingsentrum (NALN). It is the indexed database of press cuttings from newspapers and magazines relating to Afrikaans language, literature and culture with information about writers of the Afrikaans language. This database provides over 61 800 records, computerised since 1994. NALN also provides a bibliography of books, plays, poetry, manuscripts and sheet music relating to the Afrikaans culture.


The Database on Current and Completed Research in South Africa is compiled by the National Research Foundation (NRF) in Pretoria. This database provides information on approximately 130 000 South African current and completed research projects including theses and dissertations. The records of the Union Catalogue of Theses and Dissertations (UCTD) formerly maintained by the Library of the Potchefstroom University are now included. This source provides information on all fields of science since 1900. It also includes abstracts.

This database reflects the particular growth, development trends and shortcomings in the national research effort and offers an essential source of information for managers and professional researchers.

This national research knowledge product is unique in that:

  • It contains information on current research, with 5 000 new records added annually.
  • It provides all non-English titles with the English equivalent.
  • It covers research reports as well as Masters and PhD theses.

Most completed projects will have an abstract of approximately 300 words and relevant keywords allocated.

The National Research Foundation (NRF), Pretoria, South Africa, holds copyright of the Nexus Database System. For more information, please contact Henda van der Berg on telephone +27 12-481 4016 or e-mail:

Witwatersrand University Management Research Reports

The Witwatersrand Library of Management database contains over
1 700 records on management in South Africa covering a period from 1970 to current.

The Centre for Rural Legal Studies Database

This database covers a period from 1987 (and earlier) to current and includes   5 300 records. Subject coverage includes issuesrelating to agriculture and farm workers in South Africa and elsewhere. It concentrates on labour law and relations, working conditions, housing/tenure and socio-economic conditions. Issues such as land reform, rural local government and gender are also covered.

South African Legal Abbreviations

This database of abbreviations is compiled by the law librarians at the UNISA Law Library. This collection is important as there is no standardisation with respect to abbreviations used in law in South Africa. Legal writing is characterised by an abundant use of abbreviations and acronyms and writers often assume that the reader is familiar with them.

Political Information and Monitoring Service Database (PIMS)

This database is compiled by IDASA, the Institute for Democracy in South Africa and offers comprehensive, plain language summaries and key details to the bills, acts and amendments of the South African Parliament.

African Journals OnLine (AJOL)

Currently at 350 journals (both Subscription and Open Access) from 27 African countries, African Journals OnLine (AJOL) is the world’s largest online collection of African scholarly journals. In the past AJOL only included tables of content, abstracts, and journal information on its website. On the 1st of May 2009, AJOL launched the latest version of its online service to provide instant download access to peer-reviewed, African-published scholarly journals – By the end of 2009, AJOL aims to have its entire collection available as full-text online.

Along with fantastic search engines and user friendly navigation, AJOL now boasts additional resources for researchers, librarians and authors. AJOL receives an average of 60,000 visits per month, 30% of which are from the African continent and over 15% from other parts of the developing world.  The global researcher community and the authors and institutions whose work is published in the portal benefit from this increased access to and visibility of African knowledge provided by AJOL.  The new portal helps AJOL achieve its greater goal of shifting global flows of scholarly information, so that the importance of research published from the global south is more equitably represented.

AJOL is a Non Profit Organisation currently based in Grahamstown, South Africa. It has been working to create conditions for African learning to be translated into African development since 1995. AJOL works in conjunction with the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), developers of Open Journal Systems (OJS) – the open source software which powers the AJOL service. AJOL is also supported by its donor partners, INASP and the Ford Foundation.

For more information, contact

Netherlands institute for Southern Africa (NiZA)-BIDOC current catalogue

This catalogue currently holds some 18 000 records of books, documents (many collected through the Internet), articles from periodicals and audio-visual materials (mainly video's) which are part of the collection at the Library, Information and Documentation Centre (BIDOC) of the Netherlands institute for Southern Africa based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This collection deals with a wide range of issues relating to political and socio-economic developments in Southern Africa and international relations with the region. Most of the sources date from 1999 onwards. All records include keywords and summaries of the sources involved.

African Development Database

This new database compiled by NISC is presently in its infancy with more than 11 000 records and is set to grow into an invaluable African information resource. It covers current literature on economics, socio-economics, water science, water technology, agriculture, fisheries and science and technology. The sources include journal articles, reviews and news items from journals and magazines with some coverage of books and reports.

Subscription enquiries

Use the form shown to send a subscription enquiry for Africa-Wide Information or call us on +27(0)46 622 9698.