At the Third Roundtable Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Libraries in Africa, IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner underlined the scope for libraries to deliver on the goals set out in the Africa 2063 and UN 2030 Agendas, and called on governments to seize the opportunity.

Major international efforts to promote development in recent years have placed a growing focus on empowering citizens and promoting knowledge-based growth.

In doing do, governments have given increasing recognition to the importance of key library activities – supporting literacy, ensuring access to information, and providing a space and opportunity for community engagement.

Both the United Nations 2030 Agenda, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and the African Union’s 2063 Agenda, represent important opportunities both for libraries to advocate to those in power, but also for decision-makers to place libraries at the heart of policy making and delivery.

The Third Roundtable of Ministers Responsible for Public Libraries in Africa, taking place a month ago in Accra, Ghana, provided a chance for these decision-makers to talk about the progress they had made in harnessing the power of libraries, and to hear from the library field about promising new practices and trends.

IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner participated on behalf of IFLA as a whole, underlining the vision set out in IFLA’s own Strategy 2019-24 of a strong and united library field powering literate, informed and participative societies.

Stressing that in their libraries, the ministers present had a great potential in their hands to support development, he called on them to engage libraries more in development policy planning and coordination, Voluntary National Reviews, promoting libraries at the World Intellectual Property Organisation and collecting and publishing library data.

IFLA looks forward to continuing to engage with libraries and governments across Africa, in particular in the regional workshop planned for 2020 where we will explore how the IFLA Strategy can help strengthen the field across the continent.

You can download the speech as a pdf. Find out more about what IFLA is doing on libraries and development.