If you want to connect to the internet, or learn digital skills in Uganda - join the queue at your local library.
Public and community libraries across the country are steadily being equipped with computers, internet connections, and other digital facilities for community use. And the number of libraries offering free or affordable computer and internet training, and support for online activities - like searching the internet, applying for a job or accessing e-government services - is growing.
This month (April 2023) we were delighted to hear that the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), will be equipping 10 more public and community libraries with technology packages comprising 10 computers each, plus wireless internet, a printer, a scanner and a photocopier in 2023.
The UCC is the body tasked with fostering modern communications in Uganda. EIFL and our partner, the National Library of Uganda (NLU) have been jointly advocating with the UCC, for inclusion of public and community libraries in Uganda's national ICT strategy for several years, with good results. The UCC has been including libraries in ICT roll-out programmes for the past five years, and the newest assignment of ICT for 10 libraries will bring the total number of libraries equipped by UCC since 2018 to 37.
Boost for library ICT training
The equipment provides a much-needed boost to library information and ICT training services, especially for libraries serving poor and marginalized urban and rural communities where people have little or no alternative access to digital technology or skills training.
Since 2014, we have partnered with the NLU to build the capacity of public librarians in Uganda to use ICT in innovative services, and especially to offer ICT training in their communities.
In 2021 we expanded our work in Uganda with grant funding from the Wehubit Programme implemented by the Belgian development agency, Enabel, which is ending in the middle of 2023. The ‘Digital skills and inclusion through libraries in Uganda’ project, built digital literacy and training skills of 50 librarians and volunteers at 27 public and community libraries, enabling them to provide ICT training in their communities. The project is implemented in partnership with NLU, Maendeleo Foundation and Peer 2 Peer University.
trainees from all walks of life
Energetic library outreach campaigns have attracted thousands of vulnerable women and unemployed youth, many of whom had never used a computer before. In addition, different walks of life - health workers, local government officials, police, market stallholders, teachers and students are all queuing up to enrol.
By 31 March 2023, the libraries had trained over 14,000 people, and connected over 1,000 women and youth to useful free online courses, offering a wide range of entrepreneurial, technical, craft-making and other skills. The training is improving lives in communities across the country, as people apply their new skills to start small businesses, study and complete school projects, and find new jobs. Watch ‘Now I have a job!’ with testimonies about how library ICT training is changing lives (EIFL, YouTube, 6 min).
The project has attracted widespread interest, inspiring further donations of ICT from the private sector, including Absa Bank Uganda, Airtel Uganda, and MTN Foundation.
The libraries that will receive computers from the UCC in 2023 are -
- Center For Youth Driven Development Initiatives (CFYDDI) Community Library-Gayaza
- Florence Nightingale Community Library-Apac
- Kitengesa Community Library
- Marko Lukoya Community Library-Mukono
- Mubende Public Library
- Nagongera Public Library and Resource centre-Tororo
- Nyaka Aids Foundation Kanungu
- Nyarushaje Community Library
- Pakwach Public Library
- Uganda Development Services Community Library-Kamuli