eAsia2009 (VI): Impact of mobile telephony on telecentres

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.

Impact of mobile telephony on telecentres
Chairs: Tenzin norbhu, Senior ICT Policy Specialist, The World Bank

Priyantha Kariyapperuma, Telecom Regulatory Commission Sri Lanka

Huge increase of mobile penetration in Sri Lanka, accompanied by a huge investment in ICTs.

m-Commerce is increasingly being used in the insurance sector, the banking sector, etc. Though incipient today, it will become as important as texting, voice, MMS, browsing the Internet or VoIP.

Telecentre projects in Sri Lanka

  • Nenasala, by ICTA
  • Vidatha centres, by the Ministry of Science & Technology (Divisional Secretary Office)
  • TRC, CTO Malta tsunami telecentres: main objectives being assisting communities in poverty reduction, social and economic development and peace building.

Type of services offered by the telecentre, which is targeted to rural population:

  • Rural knowledge centres
  • e-Libraries, community model
  • Distance and e-Learning centres
  • Tsunami and computer kiosks

A concurrent problem has been content in local language, as people in rural areas are not fluent in English, but in Sanghalese or Tamil.

Don’t commute, but communicate, Sir Arthur C. Clarke.

Telecentres and mobile phones
K.K. Gunawardana

In Sri Lanka, average commuting time (one way) is two hours. Hence, there is a huge potential for tele-commuting.

Copex is reducing by Moore’s law, but Opex is increasing. How to reduce it? Break the monopoly of DSL, shift computing power from day-time to night-time, etc. This shift of computing power could be done by some degree of tele-commuting.

Mobiles and telecentres?
Simon Batchelor, Gamos

Increasing penetration of mobile phones in Africa. Despite figures show penetration per inhabitant, we cannot forget that taking households (5 members on average), it might well be that most population is covered by mobile telephony.

The problem is that in Africa is where prices for mobile phones and broadband are higher in terms of GDP per capita. Nevertheless, people are in general willing to pay to get these services.

Most people talk on the phone for human interaction (getting in touch for emergencies, family and friends), get most things through the TV, and just love and entertainment are got though the mobile phone or the Internet.

Several applications for mobile phones: Ushahidi, mobiles 4 good, m-pesa, tradeNet, etc. Seeing this and the still small but significant increase of mobile broadband penetration, it looks like mobile broadband will rocket as mobile penetration did, way beyond the actual penetration of the Internet.

FarmerNet: Application of mobile phones and telecentres to support micro-finance beneficiaries
Harsha Liyanage, Sarvodaya — Fusion

Farmers Net is a mobile phone + telecentre + micro credit project.

Telecentres are coordinated by ICTA Sri Lanka while microcredit comes from Seeds.

Proportion of borrowers in the agriculture cultivation sector remains as low as 10% in 2008 (from 40% in 2006).

Many rural farmers are exposed to as low as 5 traders. Lack of market access is thus the issue that constrains farmers from evolving. What the system does is to convert complex information into simple, context specific information, understandable by the farmer.

But how to access the farmer when only 5% of them access telecentres? (95% are children and youth). The answer is the mobile phone.

This system gathers data from people interested in e.g. pumpkin and when will they need it, and farmers producing these pumpkins, so that they can interact with each other and make their ends meet.

ICT4D and telecentres
Rumi Mallick Mitra, Nasscom Foundation

Nasscom Knowledge Network is geared to build a rural knowledge network to impact the lives of the underserved. It is a multistakeholder partnership: NGOs, communities in villages, key resource partner (Nasscom Foundation) and resource partners (funding, training, content and services, technolgy partners)

Sustainability and scalability

  • Diverse grassroots partners
  • Diverse resource partners
  • Diverse services: that help the community to outreach their needs
  • Innovative models: focus on health, educatoin

Challenges in moviles for development

  • Physical limitations of the device: how much information can you see?
  • Problems of cost of specific applications or services, e.g. MMS
  • Financial limitations of the amount of money being sent
  • Computing limitations: how many the processor will bear?
  • m-Services can be highly centralized and hierarchical top-down

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 (VI): Impact of mobile telephony on telecentres” In ICTlogy, #75, December 2009. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=3053

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