Hayford Siaw started with just a car, some books and a big dream: to combat high illiteracy rates among Ghanaian children with a mobile library

The “Electronic Library On Wheels” an initiative aimed at combating high illiteracy rate in West Africa is reported to have impacted more than 10,000 children in Ghana.

Active in over 30 deprived communities across the country, the library improves the literacy skills of over 18,000 children every year, giving them access to the van’s computers, tablets, and e-readers.

Not only does the mobile digital van serve the needs of children, Information Communications Technology (ICT) teachers in communities have also been using it to give practical lessons to their pupils.

The E-library initiative which is a partnership between Ghana’s digital lifestyle brand, Tigo Ghana and Street Library Ghana was initiated to assist children in rural Ghana to acquire reading and basic ICT skills.

It was also to help bridge the digital divide existing between pupils in rural communities and their counterparts in urban centres.

The initiative which is the first of its kind in Ghana was borne out of Tigo’s Digital Change-makers programme that seeks to unearth social entrepreneurs whose creative ideas, skills and talents can positively affect society.

With the initial plan of traveling across rural Ghana with hard-copy books in his mini-van to encourage children to read, the 2012 winner of the Digital Change-Makers competition, Hayford Siaw’s innovative idea was further improved upon by Tigo in line with the company’s quest to pursue a digital lifestyle for Ghanaians and enhance rural education.

As such, all the books were digitized in order to enable the children have a hands-on digital experience with electronic devices such as computers.

The President of the Republic of Ghana appointed Hayford as the Chief Executive of ‘Ghana Library Authority’ due to his exceptional work improving the learning outcomes of Ghanaian children.

The award for Hayford Siaw was presented on Wednesday 21st February at the British High Commission Accra during a Commonwealth Big Lunch by Iain Walker, UK High Commissioner in Ghana.

Hayford said: “In the world I belong to, we usually have to apply for almost everything, and so it’s a great feeling not to apply for something but to be independently nominated and selected for this recognition. I’m deeply honoured and hope this will inspire many people around the Commonwealth to be focused and diligent in delivering change in their communities. There is always someone out there watching and reading about your work. We are all born with the ability to transform our communities, let’s do it now!”

Iain Walker, UK High Commissioner in Ghana, said:
“Hayford Siaw started with just a car, some books and a big dream: to combat high illiteracy rates among Ghanaian children with a mobile library. Today, ‘Street Library Ghana’ operates in thirteen communities across the country and has touched the lives of more than 10,000 children.

According to him, Hayford is an outstanding role model for Ghana and the Commonwealth.