Public Access ICT in Algeria

Public Access ICT in Algeria

Yahia Bakelli (University of Algiers 2, Algeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-771-5.ch033
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Executive Summary

Introduction

Algeria is one of 25 countries participating in this study, which was designed to assess the public access to information and communication venues, and also to examine the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) across the nation’s overall economic, political, and regulatory framework. The study placed an emphasis on the information needs of underserved groups and communities.

The study was supervised by the Center for Information and Society (CIS) of the University of Washington and was conducted in collaboration with the government of Algeria. The intent of the overall project was to examine both the extent to which the general Algerian population has access to public information and the conditions that characterize the nation’s communication landscape. Of particular concern were the information needs of underserved communities, the public access to information and communication venues, and the role of ICTs.

The research team combined site visits and interviews to review the physical infrastructure and human resources of a variety of venues, and to determine the information content, service usage patterns, communication, and knowledge development. Additionally, the team examined the effects of environmental factors such as government policies, geography, and ethnic and linguistic differences. Following an analysis of the research, the team developed a set of recommendations for stakeholders and decisions makers to serve as a guide to improve the ability of the public to access and use the materials available in the venues.

Telecommunications and civil construction are becoming increasingly important throughout Algeria, but the existing ICT venues are concentrated in urban localities and typically lack current applicable content. Cybercafés, a few private libraries, and NGO-sponsored libraries are the only venues that are able to serve disadvantaged people and few of these sites have ICT-based services. Some people are able to use ICTs in the workplace, and some are able to afford the fees charged at cybercafés. Most Internet content is in English while most of the population uses Arabic, French, or Berber.

Methodology

This research was performed as part of an international research project supervised by the Center for Information and Society (CIS) of the University of Washington in the United States. The project was conducted in two phases. During the first phase, the team prepared a draft report that described the information access landscape, presented a national assessment, and compiled a preliminary set of recommendations. In the second phase, the team identified the principal locations where people seek information and then selected public libraries, cybercafés, private and religious libraries, and several non-government organization (NGO) information services as the subject venues for this study.

The fieldwork team focused on fourteen representative provinces, and used a combination of research methods to: (1) observe how people access information, (2) conduct surveys in information venues where they interviewed operators and users in 145 municipalities, and (3) perform secondary research and analysis of existing reports and documents using both local and international sources.

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