The first NetAfrica webinar organized by the telecentre networks in Africa last October 3, 2012, through the support of Teelecentre.org Foundation and Intel who provided the platform was a great success considering the expected poor connectivity from the region. You can download the presentation slides from here. You can listen or download the audio recording of the webinar here. We extend our gratitude to Mr. Torbjörn Fredriksson, Officer-in-Charge of Science, Technology and ICT Branch, UNCTAD for such a splendid presentation. You can download the report which formed the basis of this discussion here as well.
The key highlights in summary looked at the following why Private Sector Development (PSD) Matter, evolving ICT landscape, ICT-Private Sector Development Interface and policy implications. Very prominently the implications for telecentres listed below well captured areas which as telecentre practitioners we can consider adopting.
Role of telecentres
- Public access point with shared, cost-effective access to PCs and the Internet
- Deliver information and training to rural/poor communities
Limitations of telecentres highlighted in literature
- Slow diffusion
- Literacy requirements – mainly used by the relatively educated
- Users often consumers of “broadcast” information about health, education or government services – unknown impact
- Often not financially sustainable
- Often insufficiently integrated into local enterprise support structures that can also provide non-ICT complementary inputs
- Few telecentres in support of livelihoods provide targeted enterprise support
When are telecentres most effective?
- When services provided are responding to the real needs of the intended beneficiaries.
- When they rely on business models that are financially sustainable.
- When they are effectively integrated with other ICT channels, such as mobile phones and community radio.
- Telecentres still have potential to support micro-enterprises, if they are financially sustainable and well targeted to the needs of beneficiaries.
- When provided, they should be part of broader development projects that can court the community at large, clearly identifying ways in which users might benefit from their facilities and services.
- Interventions need to engage intermediaries who can help to bridge the financial, socio-cultural and knowledge gaps experienced by the poor.
- Wider access to both the Internet and mobile telephony opens new opportunities for combining different types of ICTs.
- Some telecentres have added an SMS-based service that allows users to search for information via mobile phones.
We look forward to holding more webinars in the near future so stay tuned, most importantly we encourage you to suggest topics that you wish to be handled in subsequent webinars.
Do not miss the next TIS Talk series as well on 10th October.