ITOCA (Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa) is Africa’s leading librarians training organization based in Africa.ITOCA is a capacity building organization aimed at enhancing information and communications technology (ICT) skills for African librarians,information specialists, scientists, researchers and students in Sub-Sahara Africa. Formerly, TEEAL Africa Office, ITOCA Albert R. Mann Library TEEAL programmefor Africa. The organization, which has professionals in 3 countries (Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe) and liaison contacts in 35 was established in Feb. 1999 as a marketing and support office for Cornell University’s African countries, has trained over 1,000 information professionals,in 33 Sub-Sahara Africa countries in the last seven years.ITOCA , with backstopping from the TEEAL and AGORA projects at Mann Library (Cornell University) and FAO, the HINARI project at WHO and ORAE project at UNEP has a mandate to carry out outreach and training activities that promote the successful adoption and use of these three programs throughout Africa.

Issue No. 16 June 2010

Train online: New PROTA e-mail course a success
ITOCA in collaboration with the PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa) Foundation recently delivered a series of online courses on the PROTA database(PROTAbase) . The objectives of the course were to impart the knowledge and skills on the use of PROTAbase and to publicise and encourage the use of the PROTA resources. Forty-five (45) professionals from 18 African countries took part in the first course, which was conducted over ten days during February 4-19, 2010. The second course was held May 3-14, 2010 and seventy-two (72) professionals from all over Africa registered to take part in the course. Congratulations to the following course participants. They were the first to successfully complete the courses and were awarded the latest PROTA Commodity Books.

  1. Benjamin Ngatunga, Kenya

  2. Theophile Mutesi, Zimbabwe

  3. Caroline Mbogo, Kenya

  4. Charles Ssekyewa, Cameroon

  5. Eddah Wasike – Kenya

  6. Elijah Mokaya – Kenya

  7. Semvua Mzighani – Tanzania

  8. Hope Musila – Kenya

The course was very successful with 80% of the registered participants completing the course. This is what some of the participants of the course had to say:
“I would like to thank ITOCA for giving me a chance to participate in this course. PROTA is a valuable addition to our E-resources especially on botanicals, we’re excited about it.”
“The course was well organized for the new user to capture the basic and advanced ideas on how to use and utilize all functions of the database for the better results. I always use PROTA database when I need information about Tropical African plants since the commencement of the training. The database is user friendly and also has very important and valuable information.”
“I have been using PROTA since it was introduced to me. It is so helpful especially when looking for different information or references on my research work.”
A second round of the course will be run beginning of May 2010. To register for the course please send your details to  ,as soon as possible as participation numbers are limited per session.

ITOCA Training-of-Trainer model on E-resources Courses growing from strength to strength
Following the launch of ITOCA’s ToT model in April 2004, over 1,800 professionals have been trained in Africa in information literacy skills focusing mainly on access and use of the TEEAL, AGORA, HINARI and OARE resources. The training-the-trainer model seeks to empower trained participants with not only the technical skills but also the teaching and facilitation skills so that they are able to organize similar courses at institutional and national levels.
Recently, ITOCA trained forty Course Facilitators (National liaison contacts) in two regional courses held in Kenya (Dec 1-4, 2009) at International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi   and at the University of Lagos in Nigeria (Jan 19-22, 2010). Some of the graduates from these two courses were assisted and funded to deliver TEEAL/R4L national courses in the countries they are based with the support of their institutions.  The courses were successfully delivered in Zambia, Mozambique, Cameroon, Nigeria, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. These courses were led and fully organised by the trained graduates comprising mainly librarians, faculty and researchers.
To date ITOCA has organized and delivered about 60 national and regional ToT courses in 28 Sub-Saharan Africa countries reaching about 1,800 professionals.
More national courses are scheduled to take place in 2010 in Zimbabwe (Oct 5-7) Ethiopia   (Oct 26-28) and two for Nigeria during November 10-12 and Nov 15-17 in Abuja.  Feedback from course graduates is encouraging with thousands of programmes users reached downstream – true to the goal of the ToT model.

TEEAL and PROTA databases integration
The new TEEAL update scheduled for release in December 2010 will also include content from the PROTAbase database giving access to users without Internet access. The TEEAL 2009 Update set will have the collection of PROTAbase review articles and for easy installation both databases will only require one installation. Two desktop icons will come with the installation, one for TEEAL and the other for PROTAbase, including language options.
The two databases can be used simultaneously and maintain their current search functionalities. The TEEAL sets with the two databases integrated are scheduled to be released and distributed by December 2010.


ITOCA website active blogs
We are pleased to announce that the ITOCA blogs are now active via the ITOCA website  On this space we can communicate and share resources with our users and collaborators in a more convenient way.  Have your comments, queries or contributions being shared to other ITOCA clients in a convenient and fun manner!
The blogs are open to everyone in the ITOCA ‘family’, all you need to do is to sign up for an account on the website to create your profile. Once this is done, you can start blogging and not only communicate with the ITOCA team but also each other and the rest of the world. For more information please feel free to contact us at

Continued User Feedback
“Greetings from Calabar, Nigeria!
The College of Health Technology HINARI training was very successful.
The participants were grateful to their Provost, who approved and sponsored the training. The Knowledge impacted during the training is immeasurable according to their closing remark.
I must confess that ITOCA brought packages that have reformed me greatly; in fact after the training of trainers at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike Nov, 2008. My academic life change for the best; as I can now access very important informative materials & Networks via the World Wide Web.
The PROTA email course was another valuable asset I have learned, as an Agriculturist/Environmentalist all I found on the PROTAbase were great information that friends and Lecturers are very appreciative of when I shared the platform with them.
I thank the ITOCA team for adding the greatest value of our time to my knowledge base and networks. Sustainable development with good practices management is the very gospel I share with all.
Hope to continue learning from you. I will remain ever grateful to your team.
Accept my highest esteemed regards.” Sonigitu Ekpe-Aji – Ministry of Agriculture & Natural Resources.

“Soon after my return from the training I tried to train my case team members including the process owner (7 people at the head office). They were very much impressed with access to electronic media. Next to this I organized another training for livestock researchers. This had a group of 15 people. Fortunately our broad band was installed a few days before the organizing of the training. All the participants had access to internet connection during the training. The next time I will organize for all members of our centre at Mekelle Agricultural Research centre (MARC). During the training about 35 researchers were involved. The next time I am planning to organize training for all researchers of the institute (from about 7 centres). This will be done in connection with the meeting for proposal reviewing of the institute. One of the challenges is budget for refreshments and per diem for the participants coming from all the centres that is why the training is delayed.” Awet Estifanos Gebre – Tigray Agricultural Research sub-Process.

“Dear ITOCA team
Thank you very much for the certificate it is very beautiful and I am glad I participated in the course.
Yesterday I carried out the very first training on PROTA here in KEMRI for the Researchers at the Centre for Traditional Medicine (CTMDR) it was amazing that this was the first time they were hearing of it. I used the same modules to Train and it was a very interesting class.
I will give more details on this.”  Cynthia Kimani, KEMRI.

“Thank you very much for the useful PROTA database course you conducted in this February 2010. The following is my feedback:-
“The course was well organized for the new user to capture the basic and advanced ideas on how to use and utilize all functions of the database for the better results. I always use PROTA database when I need information about Tropical African plants since the commencement of the training. The database is user friendly and also has very important and valuable information.”
Best personal regards, Semvua I. Mzighani.


A tribute to Vimbai Matekaire Hungwe

(11 Sep 1971 – 06 Jun 2010)

As we all mourn the departure of Vimbai Matekaire Hungwe who passed away in a tragic accident in Johannesburg on the 6th of June 2010, it is worthwhile to ponder on the significance of the life of Vimbai, an outstanding professional gifted with the spirit of love and compassion.
An accomplished Information professional, Vimbai studied Library and Information Science at Harare Polytechnic, Media Studies at Zimbabwe Open University and graduated with an MSc in Library and Information Science at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe. He was a PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria at the time of his passing, and was researching on Evidence-based Medicine.
His professional experience saw him through the University of Zimbabwe Medical School Library, Zimtrade, Ministry of Agriculture’s Central Library, Africa University and was a Senior Programmes Officer at ITOCA-Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa based in Pretoria at the time of his death.
Born a leader, Vimbai was elected into the Students Representative Council at Harare Polytechnic in the early 90s where he articulated various issues affecting students at that time. He later became the Editor of the Zimbabwe Library Association (ZIMLA) News between 2001 and 2003, where he contributed immensely to the development of Librarianship in Zimbabwe. Together with other colleagues, who include his long-time friend Lawrence Chikwanha, who is now the Librarian at Great Zimbabwe University they worked tirelessly to reform and develop the information profession in Zimbabwe.
Vimbai was elected President of the Association of Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA) at its congress in Mozambique in 2008 for a 3 year term till 2011. “Lets all put our hands together to promote good health and fight disease through information”, these were Vimbai’s words after his election as the President of AHILA. At ITOCA, Vimbai was leading the planning, organizing and conducting outreach and information literacy training workshops. He travelled all over Africa in his quest to impart information literacy skills to researchers and academics. He was invited to various international fora to share his experiences in training researchers in Africa, recently in May 2010; he was at the IAALD International 2010 Congress in France.
He was a keynote speaker at the Outbreak Control and Prevention 2010 Conference on May 19, 2010 in Pretoria. His presentation titled, “Informed Health Workers are Prepared Health Workers” raised a lot of interest amongst the delegates, and indeed it was the last formal presentation of a man who was so passionate about health information.
“Vilo”, as he was affectionately known by his friends will be remembered as a brother, friend and colleague who was committed to helping librarians and researchers get the information they need to create better lives in Africa.  Our thoughts are with his family. May his soul rest in peace.


TEEAL (The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library) program is an innovative scholarly scientific database developed specifically for agricultural and natural resource scientists, lecturers and students in developing countries by Cornell University in association with the Rockefeller Foundation, NY, USA. TEEAL, available on CD-ROM and on a hard disk that can be put on your Local Area Network, gives access to full-text literature from the world’s leading publishers.

AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) is an online program that gives educational, government departments and not-for-profit organizations, in selected developing countries instant online access to over 900 journals in agriculture and related sciences for free. Led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in collaboration with Cornell University, WHO and the Rockefeller Foundation, the goal of AGORA is to increase the quality and effectiveness of agricultural research and training in low-income countries, and in turn, to improve food security. Researchers, policy-makers, educators, students, technical workers and extension specialists now have access to high-quality, relevant and timely agricultural information via the Internet.

The Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) is part of the United Nation’s Health InterNetwork (HIN) project, and is coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the lead agency. It is a collaboration between the WHO, publishers and other health care content owners intended to provide biomedical and health care research and guideline information to non profit academic and research institutions, governmental and policy making departments in low income countries. Access to this information will generally be provided at low cost or in most cases free by the Publisher, to institutions in many countries with a Gross National Product (GNP) per capita of US $1,000 or less according to the World Bank Report, December 1999.

Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) an international public-private consortium coordinated by by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Yale University, and leading science and technology publishers, enables developing countries to gain free access to one of the world’s largest collections of environmental science literature. Over one thousand scientific journal titles owned and published by over 200 prestigious publishing houses, scholarly societies, and scientific associations are now available in 70 low income countries. Another 36 countries will be added by 2008. Research is provided in a wide range of disciplines, including biotechnology, botany, climate change, ecology, energy, environmental chemistry, environmental economics, environmental engineering and planning, environmental law and policy, environmental toxicology and pollution, geography, geology, hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, urban planning, z