African Ministers pledge support to the development and transformation of Libraries on the continent

Arts and Culture Minister Mr Mathi Mthethwa-f

16 August 2015

Speaking today at the opening ceremony of the 81st General Conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), Minister Nathi Mthethwa announced the declaration and commitments of the pre-conference meeting of the African Ministers of Arts and Culture on the status of libraries.

“As African ministers who gathered here on Friday in a historic first pre-World Library Congress ministerial session, we expressed our collective support for the library sector. We welcome the IFLA position regarding the post 2015 sustainable development agenda.

We committed to provide the necessary resources for the development of African libraries to respond to modern day challenges and provide access to emerging technologies; we supported the establishment of a Pan African library organisation and institutional partnerships. We encouraged the development and promotion of local content in African libraries as part of the promotion of African Renaissance and Pan Africanism”.

The Department of Arts and Culture is hosting the 81st World Library Congress under the theme, “Dynamic Libraries: Access, Development and Transformation.”

In welcoming guests, the Arts and Culture Deputy Minister, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi thanked her counter-parts for heeding the call. “I would like to extend our warmest welcome and a word of appreciation to all our visitors, ministers, country representatives, IFLA and delegates for heeding the clarion call for this meeting of African Ministers under the auspices of IFLA 2015 here in Cape Town as part of the global library family”, said Mabudafhasi.

“This is an opportunity for us to showcase our libraries, our professionals and best practices that are emerging as critical development partners throughout the African continent”, added the Deputy Minister.

The meeting adopted the following resolutions:

 CAPE TOWN DECLARATION

 We, the Ministers and country representatives from Angola, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote D’Ivoire Lesotho, Guinea, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan and Swaziland met to discuss the status of libraries and implementation of access to information agenda on 14 August 2015 in Cape Town, Republic of South Africa. The IFLA President, AFLIA President and national librarians were also present;

Deliberated on the status of libraries in the continent and the progress required to meet the global sustainable development goals;

Inspired by the principles enshrined in the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance and global sustainable development agenda;

Inspired by the level of commitment to prioritise and resource libraries as part of Africa Agenda 2063;

Aware that resources are still a challenge in most countries;

Mindful that libraries around the world are powerful knowledge partners in delivering services like literacy, ICT skills and local knowledge to communities;

Recognised that conflict, instability and underdevelopment on the continent, hinder free flow of information, skills transfer and people to people contacts;

Reminded that access to information is a universal human right and a basic tool for sustainable development;

Noted the need for the improvement of library services for the blind and people with sight impairment as well as other forms of impairment; and,

 Welcomed the IFLA position regarding the post 2015 sustainable development agenda.

 We thereby commit to:

Provide the necessary resources for the development of African libraries to respond to modern day challenges and provide access to emerging technologies;

Support the establishment of a Pan African library organisation to provide a platform for networking and resource mobilisation;

Encourage the establishment of institutional partnerships between libraries in the continent for exchange of knowledge and experiences;

Fast-track implementation of continental innovative strategies to improve ICT and knowledge management;

Encourage the implementation of fair and balanced copyright laws to facilitate access to information for all;

Fast-track the implementation of the outcomes of Library Summits held in 2011, 2013 and 2015 respectively;

Support the work of the African Library and Information Association and Institutions (AFLIA); and National Libraries, National Library Services, National Library Associations and Councils;

Encourage the use of e-books and virtual libraries more effectively to facilitate cultural and scientific exchange and encourage a culture of reading in the continent;

Promote library policies on access to information as part of a universal human rights approach as well as rights of people to knowledge;

Encourage the development and promotion of local content in African libraries as part of the promotion of African Renaissance and Pan Africanism;

Encourage the sharing of skills, collection and preservation of African stories from our own communities;

Commit that the African Ministers responsible for arts and culture, libraries and access to information will meet regularly;

Adopted In Cape Town, Republic of South Africa on 14 August 2015.

The conference consisting of more than 3500 delegates from around the world continues its deliberations at the Cape Town International Convention Centre until Friday, 21 August 2015. Each year, the Congress is held on a different continent of the world.

Media Accreditation for the IFLA Conference:  Press Registration forms are available from wlic2015-registration@kit-group.org

Enquiries: Peter Mbelengwa 082 611 8197 / petermb@dac.gov.za or Lisa Combrinck 082 821 4886/ LisaC@dac.gov.za

 Issued by the Department of Arts & Culture

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