African government publications

South African Parliament Cape Town
The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa (photo: I,PhilippN/Wikimedia)

The British Library has exceptionally rich collections of government publications from many African countries. For historical reasons our official publications collections are strongest for Anglophone countries.

About the collection

African official publications have been acquired since the 19th century via colonial legal deposit, exchange agreements, donations, and by selective purchase. We still purchase some key publications, such as census material and some official gazettes. There is, however, an accelerating trend away from print to online-only publication of government documents.

What is available online?

Our Guide to African official publications (PDF format) provides links to government material freely available on the Web. The guide covers:

  • Botswana
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

Our guide to African official publications (PDF format) provides a detailed description of current, or recently ceased, African official publications series received by the British Library. Most printed official publications have to be requested for delivery to the Social Sciences Reading Room. Given the complexity of this material, please ask staff at the Social Sciences Reference Enquiry Desk for help with finding out if we have the documents you need.

Some reference material and finding aids to African official publications are shelved in the Social Sciences and Asian and African Studies Reading Rooms, including print guides to several microfilm collections of annual reports and other government publications produced by the colonial administrations in Africa. 

Electronic resources and journals can be accessed in the Reading Rooms. These include:

  • Africa-Wide: NiPAD
  • African Blue Books 1821-1953
  • Africa: Confidential Print 1834-1966
  • Sabinet
  • Empire Online
  • Nineteenth Century Collections Online (the ‘Europe and Africa’ collection)
  • House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 1688- This includes a wealth of material on the political, social and economic development of many African countries. The database now offers newly digitised House of Lords papers to 1910.

What is available in other organisations?

Other libraries with good collections of African official publications include:

How to guides

How to get a Reader Pass if you are Under 18

How to apply for an under-18 Reader Pass

Find European Union information online

Contacts, institutions, news and other information relating to the European Union

Find government publications

If you can’t find a document in our catalogue, ask at the reference desk