- Kenya was identified as one of four countries that control 60% of Africa’s digital economy.
- Yet only a privileged few had access to digital infrastructure to continue with education uninterrupted.
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our lives. It has also exposed and exacerbated many conditions that have long lurked beneath the surface of our lives. One of these is the deep inequities that exist in access to digital resources and infrastructure.
This was brought into stark relief when we attempted to leverage digital educational resources to minimise learning disruption in the face of unforeseen school interruption. Kenya was identified by an UNCTAD report as one of four countries that control 60 per cent of Africa’s digital economy.
Yet it turned out that only a privileged few had access to the necessary digital infrastructure to continue with their education uninterrupted. The vast majority of students did not. It behoves us to bridge this gap if we are to cherish any hope of achieving the high quality of life for all citizens envisioned in Vision 2030.
Community libraries can play a vital role in bringing the benefits of the digital economy affordably to the vast majority of Kenyans. Establishing these libraries can be viewed as a long-term strategic response to the deep inequities that exist in access to digital resources, including vital educational resources, which have been exposed by the pandemic.
They can help bridge the access gap by enabling local communities to collectively own resources such as books, smart devices and internet connectivity that they would not otherwise be able to afford.
Community libraries can also serve as an extension of the classroom and be an invaluable partner in promoting literacy. They can serve as a study space and a venue to hold adult education classes. They can stock specialised books for technical specialists such as agricultural extension workers.