IFLA was represented at the 2023 International Telecommunications Union Regional Development Forum for Africa, engaging with regulators, businesses, academics and civil society partners to make the case for libraries to be integrated into wider digital inclusion plans, and so realise their potential to become community innovation and co-creation hubs.

Group of delegates at the International Telecommunications Union Regional Development Forum, Africa. Left to right, a woman in a green dress with a red flower in her hair. A man with a red hat. a woman in a patterned shirt and top, a woman in black, a man in a blue suit with a red tie, a woman in black, and a man in a beige top and trousers.
IFLA representative Damilare Oyedele (far right) with other ITURDF participants. Photo: ITU

The International Telecommunication Union Regional Development Forum (ITURDF) for Africa 2023 took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 3-5 October 2023 under the theme “Digital transformation for a sustainable and equitable digital future: Accelerating the implementation of the SDGs in Africa. The Forum  presented a platform for stakeholders in the telecommunication, internet and digital ecosystem, including academics, regulators, civil society organisations and development partners to dialogue and share best practices and impact towards achieving an equitable digital future for all. 

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), through its global advocacy priority efforts, was represented at the ITURDF by Damilare Oyedele, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Library Aid Africa, who also serves as a member of the IFLA Sub-Saharan African Regional Division Committee. He used the opportunity provided by the Forum to connect with partners in the ecosystem to chart collaborative approaches and build strategies to prioritise libraries’ digital infrastructure, services and development. 

Two African men. On the left a younger one in a beige top with an SDGs badge. On the right, an older one in a blue suit and tie.
Damilare Oyedele with Choolwe Andrew Nalubamba, Director General of Zambia Information and Communications Authority (ZICTA).

What does the library ecosystem seek to offer? 

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) submitted a pledge on the ITU Partner2Connect Digital Coalition titled Libraries: hubs for equitable internet access for all. The pledge by IFLA focuses heavily on equipping library and information science professionals in African countries with the skills, confidence, and networks to use basic digital tools to offer services, to deepen our understanding of the library policy landscape to foster inclusive digital services and digital infrastructure development for libraries in African countries, and to gather information to build up a stronger picture of public and research library connectivity in Africa. This final action will enable advocacy and building partnerships with institutions, organisations and stakeholders in the digital ecosystem to support digital services and infrastructure development in lIbraries. 

These further align with the ITU Regional Initiative, and in particular its goals around Implementation and expansion of broadband infrastructures, connectivity, and emerging technologies (AFR2) and Fostering emerging technologies and innovation ecosystems (AFR4)

Two African men. On the left, a smiling man with a dark blue suit, white shirt and red spotted tie. On the right, another smiling man in a beige top. Behind them, a banner with ITURDF and an image of Africa
Damilare Oyedele with Dr. Cosmos Zavazava, Director Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) International Telecommunication Union

Libraries are open to achieving an equitable digital future for all.

In our evolving society, libraries now rely heavily on digital technologies to serve our communities. In doing so – and when we receive the support needed to thrive – our institutions help chart the way for inclusive digital infrastructure development, capacity, and services. 

This offers broader opportunities for partnerships with stakeholders in the digital ecosystem who are ready to collaborate with libraries to provide and deliver empowering digital services for their communities, creating innovation and co-creation hubs.. 

Learn more about Pledges on ITU Partner2Connect  here.