Libraries’ Role in Advancing Digital Equity in Africa: Collaborative Efforts at ITU Regional Development Forum for Africa 2023
14 October 2023
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.
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.
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).
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.