Pretoria: An amount of R32 million has been allocated towards Mzansi Libraries On-Line, which provides free internet connectivity for all South Africans through public libraries.
Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi said the aim of the initiative is to create an informed and information literate society in support of the goals of the National Development Plan.
The pilot project is also aimed at improving the quality of life in South Africa by developing and sustaining libraries as well as the information service. The initiative will empower citizens with knowledge that can help them to participate meaningfully in a democratic and knowledge-based society.
Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi attended the launch of the Mzansi Libraries Online Project at Zamdela Library in the Free State on Thursday.
“The partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Library of South Africa is providing computer equipment to 27 libraries across the country. Three libraries per province are benefiting,” she said.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with the National Library of South Africa, is running a pilot project in all nine provinces to expand access to digital resources.
In the Free State, Mangaung, Edenville and Zamdela libraries are the beneficiaries of the project.
Each library will receive 20 computers, 10 tablets, 10 e-readers, one document scanner and a gaming room to the value of R470 000 for public use.
“This technology that we are delivering here today will in deed open the doors of learning and promote the culture of reading and sharing among Africans.
“The provision of computers with free internet access will … bridge the digital divide among Africans,” Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi said.
She said the technology will also enhance opportunities for learning and cultural exchange programmes.
“The National Department of Arts and Culture, in collaboration with provincial Departments of Arts and Culture, is coordinating the implementation of the community library conditional grant in all the provinces with the aim of enabling all communities to gain access to knowledge and information, to eliminate illiteracy, eradicate inequality in the sector, promote social cohesion and develop an informed and reading nation,” Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi said.
Since the inception of the community library conditional grant, 78 new libraries have been built in the country.