Public libraries in Ghana are set to get Wi-Fi. This is after an agreement between Surfline Communications Limited, a telecommunications company in Ghana, and the Ghana Library Authority (GhLA) was reached.
Library visitors in the Greater Accra Region were said to be the ones that will be benefitting from this partnership.
Speaking at an event held by both organizations, Hayford Siaw, Executive Director (Ag.) of Ghana Library Authority, said that Ghana's government is making the needed investment in education in order to achieve its objective of providing quality and affordable education to all Ghanaians. As such, Siaw explained, GhLA has declared the year 2019 as the Year of Reading and their partnership with Surfline will gapparently make the library accessible to more people by making content available for people to access online.
The details of the agreement and partnership between the two organizations were not available publicly at the time of publishing. It is also not clear whether this is a service that library patrons in the Greater Accra Region will be required to pay for or if it will be a free Wi-Fi service.
Is Internet access a private or public sector responsibility?
Even though details of the partnership have not been made available, the question remains on whether or not the provisioning of Internet access, especially in public spaces such as libraries, should be free and the responsibility of government or private companies. If the partnership between GhLA and Surfline is revealed to be one where users are to pay for the service or it is free, citizens also need to be made aware at what cost.
Many models for Internet access provisioning have been proposed over the years in Africa. These have ranged from the purely private where the argument is usually that profit driven private companies will have it in their best interest to provide good quality of service and value for money. The other proposed model is a public-private partnership which sees private companies providing local government with Internet access for a fee and government in turn provides this Internet access for free to citizens. Lastly, other proposals are that given how important Internet access is in our lives, it should be a public service provided by a government.
Gameli-Kwameof Surfline commended the management of GhLA for the initiative and pledged Surfline’s preparedness to support and work toward the realisation of this vision and even go beyond the provision of Internet connectivity.
Cover image credit: The Blame Library, Akuafo Hall, Accra - Ghana. Wikimedia Commons