eAsia2009 (III): Telecentres and their role in socio-economic empowerment

Notes from Asian Telecentre Forum 2009 / eAsia 2009 held in the BMICH, Colombo, Sri Lanka, on December 2-4th, 2009. More notes on this event: easia2009.

Telecentres and their role in socio-economic empowerment
Chairs: Basheerhamad Shadrach, telecentre.org Academy, International Development Research Centre

If you have a telecentre you need:

  • A place, the centre
  • Devices, to connect the “tele”, and they can be computers, a ciommunity radio, mobile devices
  • But, over all, you need people, a community, that are entrepreneurial, with skills, with the ability to connect

Understanding the people, and bridging the gap between the government and the people is crucial to have effective policies.

To do this, you necessarily need to bring in stakeholders, and do it with a plan.

Unleashing technology to advance social and economic development
Tim Dubel, Microsoft

In the next five years we foresee an even increasingly path of innovation in technology, being the role of telecentres how to wrap it in a human way. Indeed, telecentres are not interesting (only) by their mission for inclusion, but because there’s business interest in them. Thus, telecentre operators should “help” the private sector in understanding the possibilities to add value from a telecentre. Thus, both telecentres can achieve their social goal while being sustainable as thei also achieve an economic goal.

New business models:

  • Kiva
  • Hopemongers
  • See your impact
  • M-Pesa

New delivery models:

  • e-Health
  • e-Government
  • e-Learning

Shared resource computing

  • One monitor, multiple mice connected to one computer
  • Multiple monitors, multiple mice and keyboards, connected to one computer

The role of telecentres:

  • Leverage technology: not only increasing access to technology, but also showcasing specific new technologies
  • Support innovation: telecentres can serves as laboratories for innovation, where experimentation can be done, especially entrepreneurial innovation
  • Build capacity: train skills, workforce developement. According to European survey, 90% of jobs in the short run will require ICT skills
  • Expand networks: to share knowledge, to collaborate with other organizations and institutions

The role of telecentres in reviving a knowledge-based agrarian society
Kshanika Hirimburegama, University of Colombo

65% or population in Sri Lanka in the rural sector, but leaving to urban areas because of lack of knowledge and information to stay up-to-date in agriculture techniques.

Create a first ever online diploma course for the farming community in Sri lanka, and introducing IT for grass level in rural areas.

The course has increased student computer knowledge and given e-mail access to all of the participants. Internet usage has increased from 35% to 93% and most of them have a good level of awareness of online distance learning.

An example of the output is farmers sending information (text, images) to the Coconut Research Institute to find out what the diseases are, or to get advice for their crops.

Most people follow the courses from Nenasalas. Materials are adapted from the ones from the Indira Gandhi Open University, or, sometimes, created from scratch. Language is bilingual, one of them being the local language which changes according to the region where the students are. And everything is managed with Moodle.

The online education programme has proven successful to bring into the educational system people traditionally excluded from it.

Common Services Centres. The Indian Experience
Ashish Sanyal, Department of Information Technology, Government of India

Common Services Centre: low cost and/or cost-effective delivery of e-governance services to the rural citizens, benefiting from the increase of penetration and quality of ICTs.

Services: government certificates, licenses, grievandce redressal, law & order, governemnt welfare schemes, market prices, education, news, entertainment, communication, government & private sector mixed services, etc. Availability of government services is a must for the sustainability of Common Services Centres.

These services can be categorized as:

  • Savings: save you time or money, as e-Government
  • Buying: help you to shop more or better. Not only e-commerce, but e-learning and important part of this category
  • Income: help you to actively increase your earnings

Have to find the local entrepreneur, guide and counsel him to set up the Common Services Centre, but then, convince the bank to help the entrepreneur in investing on the Centre, and convince the telcos to provide connectivity services.

Telecentre Forum 2009 - eAsia 2009 (2009)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2009) “eAsia2009 (III): Telecentres and their role in socio-economic empowerment” In ICTlogy, #75, December 2009. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=3030

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