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Video: Libraries Across Africa

February 8, 2011  »  VideoNo Comment
  • 14% of the global population is African
  • 3% of Internet users are African
  • 3% of African Internet users have broadband access

How can the number of broadband users grow and what services can broadband offer? Launched just last year (2010) with seed funding from the World Bank Institute, Libraries Across Africa is preparing to create thousands of public libraries at the lowest possible cost.

Although the long term goal is to create 5,000(!) libraries across the continent, the organization must first gather foundational data. The group’s Facebook page has been quiet since a busy fund-raising month in August, so it’s clear they are busy planning the early phases of the project.  Once the blueprints are finalized and further funding is secured, a pilot library will be built in the coastal town of Moree, Ghana, located about 100km West of Accra. With sufficient planning, L.A.A. libraries are anticipated to reach 25 million Africans within the next 5 years. Most of the growth is expected in the 3rd year of the initiative.

A typical library, consisting of a physical anchor building, modular e-hub with Internet kiosks in shipping container, and agora (place of assembly) will provide a librarian, online journals, e-books, on-demand printing, and study space. The current LAA promotional PDF provides greater detail:

  • Libraries are to be constructed on the fringes of Africa’s fibre-optic network
  • The program will operate under a franchise model: profits will be used to pay operating expenses and to fund new libraries
  • Entrepreneurs can use the libraries as a starting point for small business
  • Location the junction of motor and pedestrian avenues
  • Serve as a catalyst for spin-off projects
  • Will double the number of African Wikipedia entries
  • Initial cost of $80k, but individual library income is anticipated to level out to $10k after 1 year, with operating costs of $5k after 2 years

Be on the look out for a comprehensive pitch document in the coming weeks. In the meantime, head over to the minimalist L.A.A. site to read more.

If everything goes according to plan, the (dynamic) number of African library users is expected to skyrocket {globalgiving.org}

If you’re feeling ambitious, read the 26-page proposal.