The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, Germany, from 25 to 29 November 2019. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> MODERATOR: If you want to come up to the front, that's fine, because we can sort of huddle together a little bit. You are in the Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries session. My name is Stuart Hamilton. I'm from the Irish local Government Management Agency where I head the libraries development team. This afternoon we have got a session for you which is going to look at policy.
And in a moment I'm going to explain a little bit more, but we are going to trace the line between policy and practice when it comes to public access and the role that libraries can play, particularly in connecting people and getting more people online, but also in upskilling and letting them have access to new services.
I think I worked this out, this is the eighth time that the Dynamic Coalition has met. We formed in Nairobi in 2011, and I was reflecting that a lot has happened since 2011, a lot of good, a lot of bad on the Internet. Lots more people online, obviously, but maybe a little bit more concern about the sort of online environment that people are coming into.
And then, of course, in the middle of that we have Sustainable Development Goals, and we have a brand new development framework for the world, and that's something we will be touching on today. I did think when I was looking at that timeframe that actually in the last eight years public access has never stopped being vital. All through that time the need to be able to access the Internet in remote, rural areas or for people that don't have the economic means to have a highly charged cell phone, places like libraries and other public access points are absolutely crucial.
So as I said, today we will talk about policy and the impact of using public access as a policy tool. The intention is to have a discussion on how public access particularly through libraries is included in national connectivity strategies, the sorts of things that support digital inclusion, and then as part of that to showcase a few different examples of what is happening around the world when Government support turns policy into successful projects.
The same here would be to inform those of you who are interested in this in our broader community about where we are at in this sort of stage, and then maybe have a bit of a discussion, a bit of a reflection on what more Governments and other stakeholders can do to use some of these strategies to get closer to the SDGs.
I'm going to facilitate the session. We have got four speakers who I'm pleased to have with us and I will introduce them when it's time. They are each going to make a short intervention on our topic. We are going to hear about things about national development policies, broadband plans, the state of affordable access to the Internet, and how investment in public access can support that.
And then we will hear about the impact of policy implementation on the ground in Uganda and Kenya, and what happens when you make these investments and how they play out. As a I say, I speak with great experts and great knowledge. Those of you who are here, I would like to have you get involved when the time comes. The IGF is about dialogue, and I hope you will have a few questions to test them on so I don't have to ask the difficult ones I have kept in reserve for them at the end.
It does fall to me to make the first sort of intervention aside from that introduction and I will talk a little bit about why we think Public Access in Libraries is actually a strategic issue for the IGF to consider even eight years after we started.
We formed the Dynamic Coalition with a simple premise that public libraries can offer innovative service based on free public access to the Internet and by doing that make a positive change in their communities with regards to areas like health, agriculture, employment, education and marginalized groups. And within the IGF we have been quite productive, and if you weren't aware, we have produced principles on public access. And in fact in front of you on the tables we have a little handout. It has a fuse things that give a bit of background on our framing of public access.
We have contributed to the intersessional work on the policy options for connecting and enabling the next billions. We have presented case studies of libraries providing Internet connectivity to achieve the SDGs and we have designed the public access toolkit which outlines the key steps that you could use to create this policy environment for increasing access.
We have used that with our own community to help library associations who are key stakeholders for us engage in advocacy at national levels. We have also participated and have participants from the partnership for public access or P4PA where we form partnerships with organisations and institutions with different sectors so across the private sector, other parts of civil society, and some of the P4PA activities include a project in Tunisia focused on digital literacy and coding and then also contributions to the UN Secretary‑General's high level panel on digital cooperation.
So that's just to give you background that if you do go to where we live on the IGF web pages, if you have a look there you will find product from us. And we are always asking ourselves within this environment a simple question. Are the stakeholders at the IGF utilizing public libraries to the best of their ability?
Why do we ask that? Because we have over 400,000 public libraries worldwide, and I don't think there is another stakeholder within the UN conversations, maybe with the exception of the post offices, that actually have over 400,000 physical space points. All over the world it can be utilized to increase access.
So if you think about that, a lot of our discussions concern online services, but here we are talking about physical locations staffed by over 600,000 library workers. So a combination of space and expertise makes us a unique stakeholder within the IGF environment. So are we actually utilizing this?
And we are asking this question because we believe that the policies that are often discussed within the UN, the IGF, need to actually reach down and impact at a local level or at least basically they are words on a piece of paper and with libraries you are going to get a package that will bring you right into the community where community hubs, we are on the ground, we are sustainable institutions. We are publicly funded.
We can deliver policy objectives in that we are policy partners and in fact we are quite promiscuous in that we tend to partner with anybody that can make a project happen for the good of the people in the community, and we can reach the parts of the community that other actors cannot. We have focus on marginalized groups. We can work with young people, children, adults, we can look at gender imbalances. We can really target where we want to work.
And we can deliver on all of these fronts which is why I think we can deliver to nearly all of the Sustainable Development Goals much in the same way as if you go into a library I can probably full you out a book on any subject you desire, I can probably show you a program in the world right now that is working on some part of the SDGs.
So for all of these reasons, we see a strong rationale for including libraries in national development strategies and for public access to the Internet to be considered a strategic issue.
That's why we are looking here at a key element of that. That's broadband. That's the role that broadband can play in taking our actions to the next level. Basically because all of the core things we do are amplified by better connectivity, and I know this through my work in Ireland where the Government invested heavily in the public library sector in recent years. All of the libraries are connected to the Internet, and the programmes that the Government wants to achieve, there are three main ones we work with. One is rather than reading and literacy, right to read, one is about business and employment. It's called work matters.
And the other it hell and well being, it's called healthy island at your library. All of these are delivered by the libraries as part of the bigger plan the Government has. So we are sitting within a Government policy framework and we are supported to do that and upskill staff with Government resources.
We are benefiting through that Government connection, but also the way that the Government is now going to invest in high speed broadband rollouts across the country. It's not the case in every country that the library is lucky enough to be connected to these conversations, but when they are, you can make the magic happen, and we will hear examples of that as we move through.
It's not just Ireland that has this. We have real live people who are working on this, but throughout our network we can see real impact when you get going properly here. Since 2014 we have something called a public library innovation program run by an organisation who is part of the Dynamic Coalition, a founding member called Electronic Information for Libraries. They trained a thousand librarians in Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Namibia and off the back of that they have trained half a million library users in how to use the Internet, how to understand emerging digital skills and how to develop community services.
We have seen libraries in the Philippines connect to Government educational programmes and inclusion initiative called Tech 4 Ed. So the Philippine Employment Administration work with the library community there to help more than 10,000 people who work in the diaspora renew online applications to send money back to their families.
And in Guatemala there is a library that serves 14,000 people from indigenous communities that have helped them set up businesses around basket weaving and local arts and crafts. So the outcome of Government projects are basically individuals in communities who are more ready to deal with digital challenges and ultimately in many cases end up with better education or in fact more money in their pocket through the opportunities that come out.
So with all of this in mind, I thought today's session, we thought we would have a look at who else around the world is implementing some of these options around policies in national broadband and working toward digital inclusion through libraries.
And we will do that by starting with a review of a new piece of research carried out by the teams at the International Federation of Library Associations or IFLA and IFL which I have mentioned which compares how national broadband plans engage and use libraries and highlight the different roles that policy makers see for us.
Once we have done that our three invited speakers will bring their perspectives to the table and share experience of some of the Government programmes that have looked to realize potential that I have mentioned. After each intervention we can go straight into questions about what you have heard or we can save our questions for the end. I don't know if we have any remote participants, but if people are with us on line, I welcome them and we will be taking questions if the people at the back just give me a wave, then I will basically bring in remote participants.
So our first panelist is Valensiya Dresvyannikova.
Valensiya Dresvyannikova is the policy and research officer at the International Federation of Library Associations institutions. She has a background in public administration so she has begun thrown out of that into the library world, IFLA and The Hague. Right now she is working on Internet Governance and digital matter from the library perspective and tad she will introduce us to the research that he will be able to share soon which is the recent analysis of libraries in national broadband plans. You have ten minutes.
>> VALENSIYA DRESVYANNIKOVA: Thank you, Stuart. And thank you, everyone, for joining us today. Let me start with the following. Recently released State of Broadband 2019 Report includes the following recommendation, include public access in places such as libraries, international broadband plans and university access strategies. This recommendation is largely intended to facilitate affordability, so to overcome cost barriers of either Internet services or access devices, but as Stuart has pointed out, there are other benefits to public access, particularly public access in library.
In light of this potential there are already over 30 countries that reference libraries in their national broadband plans and policies. It is useful to see how libraries have been included in broad band plans. Such an overview can review the scope and the range of roles that libraries play in connectivity strategies as well as the support they may need to do so.
This has been the focus of the DC PAL project this year comparing how different broadband policies implicate and engage libraries. We took the broadband plans org tool for a starting search. It allows for search in over 92 countries, and this allowed us to get an initial list of countries, just over 30, combining that with the list of broadband plans from the state of brought band 2019 report, we ended up with documents to analyze and go through.
Across all of these policy documents, where do libraries come in? The first thing we noticed is that when it comes to broad band strategies libraries come into play in several distinct context. The first is public access, examples of policies that frame libraries in light of public access include Nigeria or Botswana. This is mentioned as remedy for digital divide whether on individual level in terms of affordability or supporting broader vulnerable groups, unemployed people, low income family, so on so forth. As an additional function, public access in places such as libraries have been pointed out to facilitate access to E‑government services, online services or facilitate participation in online digital economy.
The second context is digital literacy and ICT skills. Policy documents in Hungary or Turkey, for example, mention libraries in this context. Other different models are training the trainers and helping librarians later help their users make use of computers or using libraries as venues for other actors to carry out literacy initiatives.
The third context is supporting educational institutions. Several broadband plans refer to libraries with emphasis on broader educational goals. This ranges from E‑learning opportunities or digitizing educational materials or challenging traditional libraries in academic institutions.
And finally, the last context is health, the digitization and consequent local content creation. There are broadband strategy that highly role of libraries in creating local content there digitization, for example, Mali or Switzerland. We have broadband plans in both Portugal and Turkey that light the need to create content in local languages.
Point it is focus of policy intervention. What does the policy do to allow libraries to fulfill those roles? In many cases the aim is to improve connectivity and this can entail different elements whether it is connecting libraries to broadband infrastructure which is spelled out, for instance, in Jamaica, Egypt or Mauritius. And this can include electricity supply. Plans in Kenya and Botswana point out that for connectivity, electricity is crucial. Several broadband plans seek to address ongoing courts of Internet subscriptions, for example, in the United States or Mauritius. Some broadband plans focus on providing computers or connectivity hardware or communication technologies to libraries such as those in Nigeria, Jamaica, or Bangladesh.
And finally in rare cases, the need to apply staff with ICT skills, Bulgaria being one of the examples we have come across. And for the focus on digitization, the focus has been define in either digitization targets organising or coordinating digitization activities or E‑libraries. That is the what.
And then there is the how. How do we achieve those things and how do we help library connectivity? Along such broad interventions are those spelled out in the plans in Bahamas or Bangladesh. They often include financial mechanisms such as subsidies or technology procurement for likes. In other cases, there is the public access point model. So as a starting point, we take not the need to connect as separate type of institutions at large but rather the need for a given community to be connected, and then in those areas they select different anchor institutions that will be connected and provide an entire package, software, hardware, connectivity, infrastructure and libraries often featuring those projects, select libraries are often chosen as fitting well for these purposes.
Frequently, well, not frequently, but in some cases, Universal Service Access Fund has been mentioned as a way to implement those activities. And another mechanism was public‑private partnerships. Canada's connect innovate program envisions broadband rollout initiatives that are carried out jointly with the private sector.
And in other plans the approaches to achieving digitization goals at times relied on softer instruments such as coordinating activities or adopting interoperable format and open standards. And that was the how. Looking over the entire set, if you find remarks can be made, most country policies in the set we have examined so far include more than one policy target, more than one instrument. So hopefully this potentially reflects an understanding that library connectivity needs are multifaceted and this can reflect the understanding that libraries can play more than one role in connectivity and broadband strategies in a given nation.
And different libraries can come into play. In many cases, the policy was targeting libraries at large or in frequent cases public libraries. But we have references to national libraries, academic or school libraries. And based on the verification of policy documents in the policies we have examined several broad types of approaches can be suggested. The first one is policies that improve connectivity of all or most libraries in the country. A sub category of that would be policies that involve a Universal Service Fund.
A second type would be public access point type projects where libraries are one of the anchor institutions chosen to play a role in community connectivity. An interesting category to look at would be the projects and policies that include digital literacy initiatives whether targeting libraries at large or libraries among other institutions and finally we have digitization initiatives in softer instruments.
These categories reflect the common ways libraries are engaged in broadband plans and strategies. The scope of activities they can carry out and the kind of support they need to be able to fulfill those roles.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. How long did it take to do the piece of research? I mean, can you talk a little bit about the methodology and you mentioned about 30 plans involved? What is the geographical spread?
>> VALENSIYA DRESVYANNIKOVA: We have been working on this project on and off not full time roughly since July of this year, and at the moment I believe we have a set of 32 countries.
They are the countries in the documents we have analyzed are listed in the Annex of the draft that has been made available right before this session, which can be reached at the web address that is included in the leaflets. And your other question was about methodology?
>> MODERATOR: Yes, what were you examining, what was the corpus you were examining to find the plans?
>> VALENSIYA DRESVYANNIKOVA As a starting point we take a list of countries from the broadband policy.org tool which allows for a key word search among a list of uploaded policy documents. Then having a list of countries we have looked at what has been classified as their formal broadband policy by the Broadband Commission, and if a document that is cited in the broadband policy.org has not been included in a set, if it's still a relevant document, that we still included it in the set.
And then we scanned the documents for mention of library, libraries public access as well as examples of other ins E institutions like schools or universities to make sure we are not missing out on policies targeted at a large variety of anchor institutions.
>> MODERATOR: Does anybody have any quick comments or questions from what we have heard there from Valensiya Dresvyannikova? Just immediate. Okay. Well, Nnenna, it looks like you the get the first chance to comment then. Nnenna is the chief web advocate at the Worldwide Web Foundation, and she has also been working on something which I'm sure many of us have seen this week in the news, which is the contract for the Web.
What we have asked her to talk about today is really to comment on this sort of situation overall, but to really talk about libraries and public access and affordability strategies which is something I know you have been working on in recent years, so the floor is yours.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: Thank you, everyone, for coming. I noticed that the lift was not working, so if you are here, it means you took the staircase. Congratulations. I think I have spoken a whole lot about the contract for the which was launched on Monday and we have been talking about it. However, I want to begin on a personal note. I got connected to the Internet early in 1998, 1999. I was a student, I was doing postgraduate studies and also working with the African Development Bank, and my most reliable connection was at the university library.
So I'm grateful for that. When I say my name is Nnenna, I come from the Internet, I want to be grateful to the library society, and on behalf of the Alliance for Affordable Internet of which are a member, I want to give a shout out to librarians and libraries across the world for being the last mile for millions of people across the world out there.
I want to talk a bit more about the things that affect inclusion. The first is about rights, about the policy framing for inclusion. I had spoken earlier on the high level panel about react, about rights, education, access, content and targets.
In most places libraries are the most political organisations, and so we accept them, we know them, we trust them, and this is very important for new digital natives, people who are coming into the digital world are not afraid to go to libraries. Because this is where analog and digital come together. It's a good maternity to be born into the digital world.
I'm trying to be very simple with my language because I know there are people online I have invited to listen to this. So I was speaking to you as if you don't know anything about big idea of technology and terminology.
So the first thing is that libraries are a very good place for people to migrate from analog to digital. The second is the community spirit of the library. Sometimes things within digital is about technology. It has never been about technology. It has been about how people use technology. How many of you still remember your library days? How many of you did you give your girlfriend a rendezvous at the library? Because no parent of any girl will object to you going to the library.
That's where we, things happened. So libraries have a community spirit and it's a good place for people to meet. And this is what we might be missing as we go more broadband and more 5G and more personalized. The other thing that sometimes you forget that we try to bring to the table in policy issues is gender responsiveness. We worry about Artificial Intelligence, we worry about the digital divide, but libraries are one of the most gender responsive areas. They are open, they are welcoming to all genders.
I want to come back on some of the work we have done on Universal Access Funds. Universal Access Funds, we have had them. They were supposed to extend access to the last mile, to the, to populations that were underserved, and the study that we did at the Worldwide Web Foundation shows that most of the funds are lying idle and are not being used, and we believe that these are places that Universal Access Funds need to serve.
I want to come back to meaningful activity. I think we did talk about it. For us to be really inclusive, we need we have said speed of the connectivity, broadband speed. We need reliable connectivity and uninterrupted connectivity and we need affordability and devices that are capable of giving those that capacity that we need. Now, what I want to say here is that while we are struggling, while we are working to connect the other half of the world, why we are waiting for everybody to be fully equipped to be fully educated, to be fully compliant, to be fully 5G or 4G, libraries are here for us.
And we actually have one of our partners from Universal Access Fund in Benin who would have wanted to be in this room, but the point is post offices and libraries are community centers de‑facto, these are de‑facto responsive spaces these are de‑facto community spaces, these are defacto places where analog can easily transform into digital. I want to end with something. I know you are sitting here in Berlin and most of you are from the Global North. Technology still scares people. Technology still scares women.
The good thing about being in a library environment is that there is always help. You don't call it help desk. You don't use those big computer names, but there is always someone who is willing to help you. And this is what many people need, whether it is in digital security, whether it is in in skills, whether it is being able to carry your voice as a person, there is always help at the library.
I'm bringing in all of these because when we talk about ICT policy, people think we are talking big technology. I want you to begin to rethink the way you see libraries and their role. I'm speaking to you as if, don't just see it as books and technology. See it as a means of getting people from where we are to where we want to be.
And if it is the digital home of people, if this is the maternity where digital citizens are being birth to, what else are we looking for? Is that the reason we came here?
>> MODERATOR: I'm used to hearing a lot in the advocacy work that I do that libraries are not just books because people want to talk about how libraries are technology. Libraries aren't just books and technology, they are a means of taking us where we need to go. I have a quick follow‑up question. It was about the research that you have done into the Universal Access Funds and you said a lot of laying dormant. I will ask the question because I think it will frame the conversation we are about to have, why are they lying dormant? I'm curious.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: I will not prevent you from downloading the report and reading it yourself, but most are policy related. And one of the things that IFLA is doing is helping countries redraft their Universal Access Fund policies which we have done in Mozambique and we are doing in Benin Republic. Now, if you recall Universal Access Funds were put in place years ago. When we were talking about telecommunications, they were brought from telecommunications tax. If you recall in the MDGs we didn't even have ICT in the mention.
And then we moved to SDGs and we still don't have huge technology mention. Technology is mostly found in goal nine and goal five. So you find countries who don't have a clear view about where this funding should go, and by the time you do all of the political battles, the years are gone. If you allow me, I will mention the case of Brazil, for instance. Where it's going to court and the Supreme Court has just frozen the funds.
It's like you hold on until we see clearly. So we have a bit of these funds in court, some are for policy reasons, some are planning and those are the reasons and other reasons, but I will not tell you all. Please go to A4AI. A, the letter and the number 4. And read our report on Universal Access Funds.
>> MODERATOR: I think that's interesting what you raised there about the lack of mentions to ICT and Internet access in the actual targets of the SDGs themselves. It's interesting to think that that might be causing confusion as to where to allocate funds. That's something I may come back and pick up on.
Before we do that, I will move onto the next speaker so Nnenna, myself, we have often worked in that broader policy environment. We have heard about research into some of these policies. Our last two speakers are actually kind of working to implement those policies and as such I think it's an extremely interesting angle to the discussion we are having today. Paul Kiage is joining us from Kenya where we works with the Universal Service Funds and he is working at the communications authority in Kenya. Paul, do we need to get your slides set up while I introduce you or are you in good shape? Could we get the PowerPoint? Perfect.
So Paul has maybe 20 years of experience working in monitoring and evaluation and project management. And the present years say is the assistant directest Universal Service Fund at the Communications Authority of Kenya where he is providing strategic leadership in the development and implementation of USF projects. He will be talking about the communication strategic partnership with the Kenyan National Library Service to support ICT integration in library services in the country. Paul, the floor is yours.
>> PAUL KIAGE: Thank you so much, Stuart.
My name is Paul Kiage. I work for Communications Authority of Kenya, which is the regulatory agency in charge of licensing of telecommunications broadcasting and postal and career service providers in Kenya. In addition to that, the authority is also in charge of supporting the implementation of universal access projects in Kenya of which I am here to present to you what we have done with the Kenya National Library Services. Thank you.
So I will take you through my slides. The first one being where USF is placed within the authority, and the authority has three strategy objectives of which the Universal Service Fund sits in access and market development with the sole objective of supporting widespread access to ICT services in Kenya. And that is what we are responsible for.
And it is the one shaded in red on the slide. The next one is the intervention that has been done by the authority through strategic partnership with Kenya National Library Service, it started back in 2012 where we entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kenyan National Library Service, first of all to start on a pilot basis supporting 10 libraries. Later on this was scaled up to cover all of the libraries in Kenya, and the partnership entailed supporting ICT integration and mainly this involved supporting the installation of LAN cabling in all of the libraries in Kenya. Supplying 10 computers per library, broadband connectivity to the libraries, support the supply of digital, the card printers which enable members to register and their cards printed. In addition, we also supported capacity building and training of librarians and digitization of content within those libraries.
The scope or the cost of the support is to the amount of $2.1 million. And that is covered in those components that I spoke of earlier. And where the libraries are located in Kenya. That map shows you the spread of those libraries in the country. So we have presence across most of the counties in Kenya with a few having, say, more than one library. In terms of ‑‑ that is just the official launch of the partnership, so that is the leadership of the communications authority and the Kenya National Library Service in 2012 when this partnership was actualized.
In remote areas where we don't have connectivity to the national grid, the authorities supplied solar panels to enable these libraries to run the computers. This is one of such libraries, very remote in rural areas. This is just a pictorial of the support that the authority give to two libraries in Kenya. The PCs, the furniture and the connectivity. So that is a continuation of the picture of support.
And in terms of project achievement, this project has achieved a lot in terms of the numbers. We have seen an incremental increase in the number of users within those libraries, whether students or community members are utilizing these libraries through access, digital content, be they E‑government services like applying for your passport, ID or filing tax returns within those libraries.
They also get EL services including access to E‑market information where the farmers go to access the prevailing market prices for their livestock or crops within those libraries. We have also seen that these libraries are being used as access points for the community members, particularly those who are marginalized and are living with disabilities.
They have been able to access a lot of information because we were able to get appropriate, assistive softwares which enable persons with disabilities to interact with technology. It has also attracted other strategic partners like Digital Opportunity Trust, Microsoft, Intel Corporation, among many others.
We have seen a lot of achievement in terms ever the increasing universality and accessibility using these libraries. Then lastly, under some of the lessons learned, we have seen that when you leverage on the strength of partnerships, you can increase accessibility? The use of ICTs. Then there is need to capacity build the library administrators to be enabled to pass the same information to various people who are also visiting these libraries.
We have also seen that we can get better from what we do by integrating ICT's into this library so that the libraries don't just have or just avail books to the users, but can also be able to integrate the use of ICTs within those access points. Then we have also seen that digital technologies can be used by persons with disabilities to be able to change their lives. So with those few remarks, I will say thank you.
>> MODERATOR: I have a quick follow‑up question, because there is good stuff there about the impact of the project. I wonder in some ways buy did the Government do it? So what were the reasons, what did it take to get the project off the ground? Who was advocating for it and sort of what arguments were being made that in the end made the Government want to go for it?
>> PAUL KIAGE: Thank you so much for that question. Why did the Government use it?
When you look around the country side, these libraries provided a good opportunity for public access to communities, students, and even Government officials who are working in remote areas. So traditionally they are known to host books, but we have found that it was an opportunity to integrate ICTs into these libraries so that we could attract more users to the libraries as we have seen incremental increase in the number of users visiting the libraries.
But more so for the Government, it provided as an opportunity now to fulfill our mandate of extending or increasing access to ICTs to those marginalized populations which hitherto could not access ICTs. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: I noted that it started in 2012. Is it an ongoing project? Is there a commitment to keep funding?
>> PAUL KIAGE: As I said, it has attracted many more partners. So I think the project is self‑sustaining even without the Government support. So it is able to run without further funding, but we have covered all of the libraries in the country.
>> MODERATOR: To you're dream, a project that requires no more furtherer funding. It's a good example of what happens when the Government is prepared to use the existing infrastructure and to go for it. I think we will hear more along these lines, I will ask Emmanuel Muyomba to speak now. Emmanuel Muyomba is the project manager at the Rural Communications Development Fund next door in Uganda, and today he is going to be talking about his focus work that he has been doing on broadband.
I have read your bio, Emmanuel Muyomba, you have responsibilities that we can sympathize with by making your projects delivered on time on budget and high quality. Today you will be talking about ICT public access within the public library's project that you are working on with the national library of Uganda and Electronic Information for Libraries. So the floor is yours.
>> EMMANUEL MUYOMBA: I want to mention that several funds that are not used, you would pass them onto Uganda, we have a lot to do. We could make use of those. In Uganda we have close to 30 million people who are still offline, yet our population is 44 million people. So makes about 60% to 80% of the population which is still offline. They don't have access and they are not using the Internet. We know one of the reasons for that the reason is lack of access devices but also because some cannot afford to pay for the Internet given the economic situation of some of the people. The cost is still a bit prohibitive.
The other reason is lack of skills in especially the rural areas. So the Uganda Communications Commission through the Rural Communications Development Fund which I work for partnered with the national libraries of Uganda in order to use the public libraries as a place where people can access Internet and where people can get digital skills.
In this project we have partners like the Electronic Information for Libraries which carries out trainings for librarians to enable them to have responsive services to the communities in which they exist three weeks ago I visited three of the libraries which we supported in the first place to find out what they are doing with facilities of certain places and also to know the challenges that they have.
And I was surprised to find that they are doing everything you could imagine which is for Internet. The students who do research from these libraries, we have university campuses which don't have libraries in the rural areas so their students go to the public libraries to do their research and to do their course work.
There are also people who are pursuing online courses from international universities or from academic institutions which are not within Uganda who go to the public libraries to do their online study. I also discovered that people use the Government E‑services from the libraries.
Recently there was a need by the Minister of Education to have teachers register on the teacher information system and many of the teachers don't have personal laptops or personal computers. There are just libraries where they go to do these. People also do tax returns from the libraries, and they also to Internet banking from these facilities.
So outcomes of the project include the fact that we now have libraries with computers and Internet access where the public can go and use these services free of charge. So this takes away the cost barrier for some of the people who are offline because of the cost. On average you get about 35 people in each library a day and we have had library staff trained by IFL to offer community‑based library services.
The public also uses these libraries to access WiFi. Those who have their own devices like smart phones, laptops just have to go into the environs of the libraries to access the Internet through WiFi. The challenges we have found in the project include unreliable electricity in these areas. The grid is not so reliable in some of these rural areas. The cost of maintaining and sustaining these facilities is a bit high because currently the services are offered free of charge. The rural communications division through the it rural communications fund is offering the cost of Internet bandwidth but would prefer to have the libraries or the communities in which they exist to be the ones sustaining these facilities.
There is also a limited physical space for these facilities and in many cases you find that the reading space is the one used for the computing. So where someone would want to use multimedia services, maybe make VOIP calls through the Internet, it would be an inconvenience to the other library users.
Also currently there is no user management software in the libraries because they perhaps want to limit how much time each user is allocated because the users are many and the libraries are few. That's another challenge. There are many users, but computers themselves are limited.
So, therefore, we are facing this project because of limited funds, we rollout a few every year as the funds allow and we have covered ten libraries out of the 47 public libraries. Thank you.
Oh, I have got a short video from the users of the facilities. Please watch to get it from their own mouth experience.
>> MODERATOR: So that for me is great because it enables us in the room here to see what we are talking about when the policies whir writing down on paper are implemented we can see real change in the communities and I'm struck by the commentary of the people in the video and why the library is so important to them, because actually, I hear the same words when I meet users in Irish libraries.
So these are universal needs that are happening at the same time in Uganda and Kenya and also in the country where I'm currently working and libraries are solving those problems. Before we move onto a bit of discussion, I did have the same question for you, Emmanuel Muyomba. Why did the Government decide to go for it? Who persuaded you or did you come up with the idea yourself? I'm intrigued as to what made the project happen?
>> EMMANUEL MUYOMBA: Thank you. We knew that there was a need for public access because we knew that one of the challenges which is stopping somebody from getting online is lack of access devices and also because some cannot afford. So for synergies, we needed a partner who is out there in the communities and the library was a good place to do this project, because as much as we are putting in the computers and giving them the Internet, you already have the physical space and they are already open to everyone without any bias of gender or age. Because the mission is to ensure through targeted interventions that location, physical inability, gender and cost are not barriers to access broadband for any sector of Uganda's population.
So the library is one of the partners we could work with to achieve this.
>> MODERATOR: I know we do have a question that's come in remotely, I think. But this is one of the first times we have done one of these panels that we have been lucky enough to have two colleagues from Government, civil society, and policy development, but I, you know, in terms of people that actually work in libraries, we are a little bit light. I understand we have a colleague from the German library sector who I have not met before who is sitting very close and paying great attention. Welcome.
I wondered if you had any comments or thoughts from the perspective of the community here?
>> AUDIENCE: Yes, hi. I don't have comments actually, but Valensiya Dresvyannikova asked me to talk a little bit about a situation in Germany? If you want me, I can do that now or later.
>> MODERATOR: Sounds like comments to me.
>> AUDIENCE: Okay. Great. So yes, my name is Jackie brighten, I do work for the German library association so not within an actual library but for an association, we represent Germany's around 10,000 scientific and public libraries. Our goal is, of course, to strengthen libraries so that these can provide citizens with free access to information. I would just lake to give you maybe a little insight into the situation in Germany and the sort of issues we work on with regard to digital inclusion, and the three main aspects we see on that is libraries as a venue for providing connectivity, secondly, as a place to access digital resources and thirdly as a place where users can get digital skills.
So with regard to the issue of being a venue for providing connectivity, actually the picture in Germany is quite mixed. So if you look at 80 percent of libraries, if you look at the libraries that are managed on a full‑time basis, over 80 percent of those are connected to the Internet. So that's quite a high number. But if you look at those libraries that are managed on a part‑time or involuntary basis and that are mostly in rural areas, actually only about 20% are connected.
So the picture is not as good in Germany and either and that is why the German Library Association is calling for a nationwide expansion of network infrastructure so also the very small libraries in the rural areas get connection. That's one of the issues we actually talk about in our report, the state of libraries in Germany. I brought a copy with me today so feel free to pass by and get a copy later on.
With regard to accessing digital resources, so accessing E‑Books, E‑journals, movies effect. We believe E‑Books are an important resource and libraries in Germany do offer E‑R books, but often in a restrictive manner because of difficult licensing restrictions. So another thing that German Library Association is calling for is legal equality between physical and E‑Books and then finally to digital skills, I want to sort of end on a more positive note and tell you about a project we are managing called Totally Digital, and it aims at providing youngsters with both digital and reading skills.
So I want to show you one of the projects. It's a comic that was basically made by youngsters. You will see it here. And what the youngsters did was to write a story for a comic themselves and then they took pictures of themselves acting out the story and they used a computer program to turn it all into a comic book, so a very fun and playful manner of learning about both digital skills and getting reading skills.
So I would just like to make you aware of our report. I also have some information on this program to the total digital and to make you aware called give you 2030, and there you can see practical examples of what libraries in Germany do in terms of advancing Sustainable Development Goals.
So I think it's a very good resource to actually get practical examples. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: So I want to open it up now. We have heard, I think, at least obviously, I'm on the libraries team, some really good examples of why libraries should be included in National Development Plans, and yet we have seen research where we have got 32 countries where that is actually happening which leaves us with a lot of other countries that we need to get out there and reach. I want to open up the floor to those of you in the room with any observations on what you heard, any questions for our panelists or anything you want to share from the situation that you find in your own country, and your hand is up first, sir.
>> AUDIENCE: My name is Jams from USF Kenya. From the presenters so far, one of the things that has not been mentioned is how communities are able to sustain on their own without external support the services they are accessing from the library because when you say marginalized or rural, the assumption we are making is they are not even able to be able to afford, I mean, financially, some of their services they are coming for at the libraries.
So how do you plan as now at the policy level of this initiative, how do you plan? What mechanisms have you put in place to ensure that even without the external support these communities are able to sustain these services for the next 50 or 30 years? That's one.
Number two, again, when you say rural or marginalized, again, one of the things that comes up is most of these communities are not able to write and read. So the linkages you have created with the similar institutions, let's say academic in nature, so that there is a balance between motivating these communities to go to school to be able to access these services, otherwise the way maybe you might have packaged it, it's just going to remain an elitist debate, because what is this that, for example, would motivate me from being in the village or maybe I stay near a library and I'm not able to write and read, but I'm able to say, okay, there is a library here with these services and, therefore, I have to go to let's say for another dedication class to be able to use these services found at the library.
>> MODERATOR: Let's take that on. Although I will be asking my expert colleagues to pick that up. Who would like to say something? Paul, you are reaching for the mic.
>> PAUL KIAGE: Thank you so much, Jams, for the question. I think on sustainability what we have seen is that once you open up these centers and equip them with the appropriate devices or the computers and connectivity, these centers have attracted other partners like I had mentioned Digital Opportunity Trust, I would mention Microsoft, Intel coming to offer certain courses within these facilities and offer certification to the students who come here. And over time, even the agencies that manage the libraries see interest on the digital content and they open up to look up for resources to sustain the connectivity.
And that's what we have seen in Kenya when many of the actors have come on board and even the library itself has created a budget line for the connectivity beyond the initial support that the authorities supported. Thank you. Will.
>> EMMANUEL MUYOMBA: For sustainability in Uganda, what we are doing we are encouraging libraries to allow free access maybe by limited time depending on the demand and beyond that time they could charge a small fee in order to sustain to be able to generate some money to pay for the Internet subscription. All right by taking the Internet, you have taken over the installation costs and other initial costs associated with providing the Internet. So sustaining just subscription costs is money they can raise.
But we do pay for the subscription for the initial two years. And also they provide other services which are not free of charge, like printing and scanning documents. They charge a small fee, but we advise them in all cases to keep their fees below what it would cost in the market, in the open market. But they also get funding from the local Governments in the areas where they exist, so this can help to sustain this project.
The second question was on literacy. The objective we partnered with libraries was to create a technological infrastructure for Internet access there to enable local communities to receive basic ICT training as well as gain access to online resources. So the communities do get training from the same facilities in the case of Uganda.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: Once I stop speaking I will walk through the door and there is another panel waiting for me, from the policy perspective is the library on the budget of education or the budget of infrastructure, ICT infrastructure.
That's one question I want to leave here before I go away. It is very important to get the policy perspective right. If we do not classify libraries in such a way they can get funding from universal access, from education, from social and women's affairs then we may not be able to have them sustainable. I don't know how many of you come from Africa, maybe the question I will leave on the table is what is happening to your post office? Because most post offices have had the issue of sustainability, and if we are not careful, libraries are going down the same way, in which we give them one role and one role alone, and if they cannot play that role, then they are going to die.
And that is what I want to leave on the table, we need to have, sit down and have a policy re‑evaluation of the role of public libraries and though that they are in mainstream education, know that they are in digital infrastructure, know that they are in skills, and know that they are in community development. Otherwise, we will overlook them in our SDG implementation and if we are not careful, what is happening to most post offices in Africa will happen to these libraries.
I live across West Africa and I want to share what I have seen. What I have seen now is people like yourself and myself are seeing we build libraries. So there are citizen‑led library initiatives where people bring in books, old books from their kids and people bring under a few laptops and a few hand held devices, and couples with community connections, they get the libraries up and running. So I still want to put this on the table. I don't know if we have this initiatives that come into corporate social responsibility, but I truly believe that libraries are here to stay. Now, whether it is a Government that will ensure their sustainability or it is us as citizens that will have to take it upon ourselves, I do not know. I want to leave that on the table and ask you would you allow the libraries to lie or you will make them live? Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: I might ask, I have got a question here before I go down to the end to the gentleman there. I mean, fortunately, I think I can say ‑‑ you can go. Thank you very much. I think the question whether or not the libraries are dying is obvious bay a huge one, but I think after working in the area for 15 years we have actually moved beyond that now in many, many places. One of the things Nnenna mentioned there is about the right location for the library service within the government structure, and in Ireland where I work things started to go very well for our sector when we were moved out of I think the Department of the Environment, which is a strange place, I think, to have the public library sector into the Department for Rural and Community Development, which is a really good fit for what the Government wants to achieve in that area and has some connection to the gentleman's question around literacy and improving skills in that area. And that's a big focus in rural Ireland as well. Niko, I know you have a question or a comment. Can you introduce yourself to everyone else?
>> AUDIENCE: Hi, Steven, my name is Nicholas Bacha, Association for Privacy Communications. Thank you for the amazing participations. I wish I would have more chance to engage deeper in the DC this year but I annual happening that all of these outcomes have come out of it. We have been running a project for the last few years in relation to community networks, that is a topic that is very much related to community, to libraries in the sense that we serve the same population, and we are striving for the same goal for everyone that wants to have access to be able to have it.
And I'm actually very happy to hear that the Universal Service Fund agents from Uganda and Kenya two countries we are partners in here, have chose the willingness of the Governments to open up and be exposed to these discussions which are so important.
One of the things that I have heard from our colleague here in the back was in relation to how projects can be sustainable. This is by far one of the most asked questions in relation to rural problems. And in general, I think one very big mistake that we make is to try to measure initiatives. We assume that things need to be measured with the same rule in the urban and in the rural. And we forget that the people that are in the rural areas are not only remote and that is a lot to say already, but also they are in the most challenging situations that can be.
In general, the market is not able to get to those places and the states struggle to get to those places too. The Universal Service Fund probably has much less budget that's the telecommunications ministry as a whole. So like the capacity for states, and I relate a lot with your responsibility of bring, you know, universal services is such a big name for an office. So the challenge is big and the resources are in general small, but we don't have to forget that these people are there in the most challenging situations.
So measuring the problems with the same rule would be a mistake. Still, supporting communities in rural areas, I think it's a very important thing because if a service is of essential need for them, no matter if there is a business plan for a sustainability plan behind or not, once the service becomes essential for a community, the communities find their way to make it exist now and in the future.
If you need examples for that, and I guess it's important to have them, what are provision is one strong example. Community have figured it out for ages, and although they don't have enterprises that make sure that the water is there, the water is still there, and they are still having service. So but one thing that we need to worry about and I think the libraries and the Universal Service Fund entities can work together is about the capital expenditures of having telecommunications infrastructure.
The libraries in general are very well known entities within the communities, and also respected entities within the state infrastructure. So they can be liaisons with the communities when you do investment in infrastructure. By having this alliance in between the public sector, the mix would be because you can have community libraries that are in between public and private. They have a relationship. And being rooted in the territory, they can make effective use of the funds to get to the communities.
But there are challenges in relation to libraries, and one essential comment and I will stop there, because I can talk a lot of time, that is in relation to how the spaces for accessing to telecommunications services.
And in this place, I think it's the Achilles knee of libraries in the sense that public spaces are not always the best place where you want to access information. There are certain sensitive information that can't be accessed or you can be judged by accessing them on public spaces. So we need to work together, the libraries and the communities to extend the coverage of the libraries to the communities, so community members can access the connectivity in those private spaces where they feel comfortable and can access the services and information that they require in the privacy of their homes or whatever place they feel comfortable. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: I would say that some of the work going on in the Dynamic Coalition on Community Networks is very much connected with what we are doing and that extension element is something which we need to explore more. There is a comment from a gentleman in the back, and we will come back to panelists.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much. My apologies, I was on a panel of for another session, but I wanted to join this conversation. My name is honorable Semal George. I'm a member of Parliament from Ghana. I heard the comment Nnenna made before she left. We have had to battle with these challenges in Uganda, but we will work what I will call as a model that seems to be addressing this. You have the Uganda libraries authority is responsible for all public libraries. You realize many of the libraries like she pointed out are facing challenges that post offices face.
Now, what we decided to do and our library is under the Minister of Education. In Ghana the Minister of Education gets about 10 percent of our GDP or annual budget. So there was funding for the Ministry of Education, but libraries were not a priority. So what we did was look at another agency, the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications. That comes under the Ministry of Communications. Now, what it does by law is all of the mobile network operators in Ghana contribute 1% of their net revenue to this authority. So then GFAC is funded to be able to use it to what we call last mile rural connectivity to rural communities. If you have a library in an area, let's digitize our libraries.
So the community libraries and the public libraries, we started a digitization drive using the funds available to GFIC. So GFIC takes it over, connects it to the Internet and its no longer just a line, but it becomes a skill acquisition centre. So you can go there and read a book online, which has been digitize or you can go there and actually get skills training in software or hardware development.
So it's added a knew dimension to what the libraries are. In areas where there were no libraries, we used GFIC to build what we called enhanced community information centers. These centers also give you access to digital material that you can access when you go in there. They have got laptops and desk tops in there, and then there are also skills training that go in there. So you realize that these centers have now become the hub around which a lot of young people gravitate and find a source of livelihood.
So it's no longer about just going there to read. The centers and libraries are no longer just for literate people who want to read a book, for people who want to get a digital skill. So you go there and you learn. So that's the model we have used. It's not perfect. The challenges which we are trying to fix, on the issue of connectivity that you raised, for example, we have a solution that was developed by a Ghanaian company that got awarded at the ITU that enables us to set up a 2G, that is 2G in some instances in some instances 3G that brings connectivity even where there is no electricity, it runs on solar power.
So in areas where there is no connection to the national grid, Ghana has 84% national grid connection but in the lethal 16% that is left, you can have this solar power access to the Internet in there and then Internet connectivity and skills development. So I thought I would share this with you and see if we could look at replicating the model across. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: That is, I think, these new models are essential. We can't stay the same. That's been something which our community sort of recognized a long time ago. Don, is that a comment from you? We are going to make everyone be very, very quick because I would like to hear last words from panelists. Can you be quick?
>> AUDIENCE: My name is Don Means with the Gigabit Libraries Network. I wanted to maybe add a data point and make a comment about the Dynamic Coalition. It might be helpful. One is that in the U.S. there are also people that lack access. Libraries provide Internet access for one third of the adult population, roughly 80 million people 14 and over access the Internet at a library. Most of them have another source of access, but they go to the library for a range of reasons, for speed, comfort, safety, whatever, for help in using it.
So there is a whole array of meanings when we use the term access. In terms of dynamic coalition, it fostered the partnership for public access since Sao Paulo I think is when it really started. This has then become the partnership, P for PA.net is a coalition of IFLA, of IFL, IEEE, A4AI, The People Centred Internet, and several others which are making the case that universal public access can be achieved through three strategies that come, that could accommodate almost any circumstance. One is as Niko pointed out, community networks, public access centers like libraries or offline Internet where there is no back haul at all that that could accommodate almost any circumstance and achieve universal access, and that there is no credible strategy to actually bring everybody online without a public access component.
And so my final comment is that the purpose and the value of Universal Service Funds to actually achieve universal service can be most effectively invested to reach public institutions, notably libraries, and that that can serve as a back haul for build‑out of community networks together it's optimized the investment and really achieve a goal that we have been working for for a long time. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks Don. One of the things that Don and I talk about is what can happen when you can take the connectivity that a library has to the next level, and when you can put real super fast broadband into the public library, the services that the library can offer just really go out through the roof. So is serve libraries in the U.S. have very big pipe coming in. Libraries in Finland, and that's where you can really kind of take things, as I say, to the next level. If you wanted to say quickly.
>> AUDIENCE: Quickly, there is more a thing that you can do once you have high capacity back haul is you can extend it beyond the library using wireless technology that I think now are available in Kenya, TV white space is a wireless, open wireless technology that some libraries are using to support remote library access points, fixed points around a community to further make this critical service convenient for more patrons.
>> MODERATOR: Now, I'm going to return to our panelists for last comments. We had a remote question which was about how we drive people who hold the Universal Access Funds towards libraries and I think we covered some of that in the interventions from Paul and Emmanuel Muyomba.
Any sort of final observations, and Valensiya Dresvyannikova as well, I know you have been sitting here listening to the things and you have done the piece of research. I have to say they have been the main Dynamic Coalition session where we have to report back in three minutes so it's not a great piece of scheduling but let's take final comments.
>> VALENSIYA DRESVYANNIKOVA: The Dynamic Coalition does have a plan to continue working on this piece of research, and our plan or goal is to follow up and move on from studying simply the policy outcomes to go more closer to the ground and see how these policies are being implemented, so moving on from assessing outputs to impacts, and we have, I believe that the conversation that has been here today will be able to inform our thinking as to what kind of questions we are supposed to ask. So, for example, when discussing the role of libraries in broadband policies, it would be a good idea to see where exactly they fall within the Government authorities, that is something that can arise from today's conversation.
We can ask questions about sustainability. We can ask questions about how the implementation took place and what the impact has been for the community and what potential has it created for further action. So many thanks for the conversation that took place today, and if any of you have been inspired today to put forward some ideas as to what we should be looking at for the implementation, we would welcome these suggestions.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Stuart.
>> EMMANUEL MUYOMBA: One of the things I discovered when I visited the libraries was that they enable more sharing of facilities of the Internet and computer facilities that we put in the communities. At the rural communication fund we have done projects where we put an ICT lab in the secondary school, but you find when you do that it's only the school and school community which benefits from the facility.
Out at one of the libraries I went to in central Uganda, I found that two schools actually use the library for their computer studies because the schools don't have computer facilities. Will so in addition to the community, general communities in the libraries, we have two schools, two secondary schools using library.
So this means that if we have more intervention at the libraries, then we have more benefits, many more people than, say, when we take the facilities to one school. So with these kinds of findings, we were more encouraged to do more of these kinds of projects in other libraries. Thank you.
>> PAUL KIAGE: As for me maybe one of the things I needed to stress was that maintenance of this equipment within the libraries given that they are placed in very rural areas has proven to be quite a challenge, but what we have realized is that when you use local actors who are able to reach those centers very fast, then it eliminates the downtime in terms of response to any challenges which may occur within the libraries. And for sustainability, to me I think given that the synergies that come on board when the equipment or the cap ex cost some cost has been made you find actors come on board that is allowing sustainability for such projects to enhance accessibility. And then as we implement these projects, we need to have at the back of our mind that about 5 percent of our populations are people living with disabilities.
So we need to integrate and carry with us persons living with disabilities by availing assistive devices or some of these equipments to allow them also to engage and also learn digital skills. Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: My name is Ramona. I'm from Electronic Information for Libraries and it happens that IFL has worked in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda with library authorities that managed to get USF funds. So if you want to talk about it, just come to me and I will tell you a secret.
>> MODERATOR: You heard it here first. Thank you very much, everybody, for coming. The IFL website, the IFLA, the P4PA website all have background information relevant to this session. I'm sure you all have digital skills so a simple search of Google will lead you there. Thanks for coming. We will see you soon.