tribune. Only a few months after coming to power, the President of the Republic proclaimed this objective on September 29, 2017: “We need to reduce the digital divide in Europe. “ The government's action materialized in March 2019 with a plan to democratize broadband access (100 million euros to tackle this digital divide called “primary”) and to better train the French in the use of digital through the “digital pass” (10 million euros for this so-called “secondary” divide).
13 million French people said they were in trouble with digital. The problem was financial, it was thought: it was enough to pay off those who wish to train, exactly in the same way as restaurant vouchers allowing employees to benefit from their midday meal. All in “dedicated” places.
The good news is that these structures already existed and so did their staff. They were already called “digital public establishments” (EPN for the initiated, “cyberbases” for the former), in plain words most often a library, a multimedia library or a reception point, or better still a “third place” since this term is in fashion. In these establishments, there have been “digital mediators” for more than a decade now.
An “industrial” digital inclusion policy
The less good news is that many years after their creation, we still find this figure of 13 million people excluded from digital. In fact, during the preparatory meetings for the launch of the national digital inclusion strategy, EPN leaders or digital mediators explained that the public did not show up, and that many had to close for lack of funding… Antoine Darodes, then director of the Digital Agency and now director of cabinet of the current Secretary of State for Digital, gave his diagnosis during a consultation meeting: “EPNs have a marketing problem, we have to make them sexier. “
The historical difficulty of EPNs in carrying out an “industrial” digital inclusion policy could therefore be explained, according to the authorities in place, for two reasons: people do not train for lack of means, and they do not push wears EPN because they are not attractive enough or visible on their territory.