Purpose – To determine whether repository libraries in developed countries have a role to play in the preservation of the digital resources of developing countries. Design/methodology/approach – Literature-based conceptual analysis of: categories of digital resources produced in developing countries; capacity of African institutions and stakeholders to preserve African digital resources; and issues and challenges to be faced by repository libraries in preserving these resources. Findings – The volume of digital material being published in sub-Saharan Africa is relatively small but it is growing and it is of significance as a part of Africa’s heritage. African institutions currently do not have the capacity to collect and preserve this material. It is possible for repository libraries in the north to play a role in ensuring the long-term preservation and accessibility of digital material from Africa, provided that they take into account certain technical, organisational, economic, political, legal and ethical aspects, especially the "soft" issues. Projects should as far as possible be undertaken in consultation and collaboration with digital resource creators and African heritage institutions.
Research limitations/implications – Based on conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, with emphasis on South Africa. Practical implications – Issues that may otherwise be overlooked by institutions in developed countries are identified. Originality/value – Provides caveats and guidelines for institutions in developed countries that may want to embark on projects to preserve African digital heritage.