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Impact Assessment Results
On the last Thursday of every month, Northern Regional Library in Tamale, Ghana, hosts lectures on information and communication technology for development (ICT4D). As a result, the public library is becoming well known as a centre for stimulating local development.
The library’s two main partners in delivering the lectures – Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing (GINKS) and the local ICT4D agency, Savana Signatures – were extremely happy to locate the lectures in the library.
‘It made a lot of sense to us to have the only knowledge sharing event in the whole of the region positioned at the library, where people go to seek knowledge. This is why we moved the monthly ICT4D Forum from its previous location at the Institute for Local Government Studies in Tamale, to its present location at the Regional Library,’ said Mr Ibrahim Maida Inusah,
Savana Signature’s director, Mr John Stephen Agbenyo, agreed: ‘We saw the library as an important stakeholder in development in Northern Region. The strategic location of the library - in the heart of the community - provided us with an opportunity to disseminate information to our target audiences easily,’ he said.Executive Secretary of GINKS.
The lectures aim to deepen understanding of the value and potential of ICT and encourage people to use ICT. They bring together people from diverse sectors – health, education, communication, development, agriculture – and the general public. After each lecture there is energetic discussion and debate.
Evidence suggests the lectures are achieving their purpose: after each lecture, Savana Signatures receives positive feedback. ‘People either visit our offices, or contact us through Facebook and twitter, with comments, questions and expressions of interest,’ said Mr Agbenyo.
‘Most of the people who come to the lectures are youth – more young men than young women – and many are students,’ he said.
‘There are unfortunately limited statistics about ICT use in Northern Ghana – but I think it is safe to say that more people use ICT in Southern Ghana, which is much more developed.’
Part of the problem is access. ‘At present, Tamale is lucky to have free Internet access through the public library. But most people use Internet cafes, which are expensive. Increasingly, people are accessing the Internet on their mobile phones and some have computers with modems. However, Smart phones are still very rare here,’ said Mr Agbenyo.
Over the past year the diverse lecture topics have included ‘tweeting Tamale’; visiting Tamale on Google maps; using Web2.0 to enhance teaching; the advantages (and disadvantages) of social networking; women and ICT, biometric voter registration, and others. Lecturers are experts from local government and non-governmental development agencies.
Previous project updates:
The Northern Regional Library in Tamale in Northern Ghana recognizes that they can help to create the next generation of leaders by providing training, skills and support. The library’s Internet Access and Training Programme aims to develop 200 young technology pioneers (140 girls, 60 boys). The pioneers will have practical ICT skills and will become advocates for computer technology in their communities, and mentors for others.
The Northern Regional Library serves a population of 514,000. Needs assessments, including focus group discussions among library users, community members and stakeholders, indicated that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) programmes currently reach only one in five who need them, with young women and girls far less likely to participate.
ICT has increasingly been recognized as a significant tool for poverty reduction in poor and marginalized communities, and there is a high level of interest and commitment from local government and other organizations to explore, adapt and implement technology-based projectsthat will encourage local social and economic development.
The library offers an ICT training programme for youth, to expand social, economic and educational opportunities for their future. Technology includes computers with high-speed Internet connections, and a variety of software packages.
Partners include the Ministry of Education, who are helping to reach youth and whose support will contribute to long-term sustainability of the project. The NGO, HATS Community Empowerment Programme (HACEP) is providing technical and management support. The National Service Scheme is providing undergraduate and graduate technology personnel to support the programme. The Tamale Metropolitan Assembly facilitated sensitization in the communities.
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