eAsia2009 (XI): Closing Session of the Telecentre Forum

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.

Closing Session of the Telecentre Forum
Chairs: Sriyan de Silva Wijeratne, Microsoft Sri Lanka

Florencio Ceballos, telecentre.org, International Development Research Centre

One of the convictions behind telecentre.org was that telecentre operators should be trained as social entrepreneurs, instead of hiring people to perform especific tasks.

Providing services – like Drishtee does – was another of the main things that became clear from the very beginning. Knowing, thus, that many countries were approaching last mile issues with public access to the Internet, based on entrepreneurs and services addressed to the comunity, fostered the creation of a global network where all these initiatives could be shared and learn one from another one.

Sheriff el-Tokali

The UNDP began a telecentre network with 3 telecentres in Egypt. A thing that has been learnt since is that telecentres cannot survive outside of a network. A network makes possible sharing services amongts member telecentres of the network or even amongst networks; share strategies and policies, etc. On the other hand, the addition of new telecentres is easy, as they benefit from the experience of the already established telecentres.

But telecentre sustainability does not only rely on sharing services, but in creating new ones. Amongst these services, e-Government services are, arguably, the best option nowadays.

Lessons & good practices learnt from the Philippines Telecentre Experience
Tess Camba, National Computing Centre, Philippines

  1. Institutionalizing a national policy: it is worth expliciting and embedding a telecentre policy in the general policy of the government.
  2. Organizing one network: the network, a multistakeholder one, is useful to raise awareness, to represent the different interests of the stakeholders.
  3. Pursuing a shared vision: to have a community e-Center in everty municipality
  4. Employing a multi-stakeholder partnership: engaging the government, the private sector, NGOs, academia, etc.
  5. Training compentent Community e-Center managers
  6. Promoting knowledge sharing: through the online platform, knowledge exchange conference, Community e-Centre managers exchange programme
  7. Putting premium on content & services
  8. Harnessing leaders & champions

Ravi Gupta, CSDMS

CSDMS publishes Telecentre Magazine.

There is a major challenge that telecentres face. Their portfolio of services is growing in width and complexity. But they will not survive if the do not have a social part. Telecentres have to connect the dots.

But the added problem to this is: if the governments are not e-ready, telecentres cannot supply e-government services; if the educational system is not e-ready, telecentres cannot supply digital learning services; if the health system is not e-ready, telecentres cannot supply e-health services; and so on with resellers, banks, etc.

The need for knowledge sharing will increase, not decresase, and more as connectivity raises (especially in developing countries).

Final conclusions

  • The importance to document everything you do, with a writing, with a photograph, with a video… Testimonials have a strong power and, besides, they help you in keeping track of what you’ve done
  • The importance to recognise your failures… and learn from them, of course


Telecentre Forum 2009 - eAsia 2009 (2009)

eAsia2009 (X): Empowering telecentres with appropriate content and services for the next five years

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.

Empowering telecentres with appropriate content and services for the next five years
Chairs: Juddha Gurung, High Level Commission on Information Technology, Nepal

Different communities have different needs, thus why we have to adapt content and services to each and every community.

Content and Services in the Telecentre Movement in Nepal
Allen Bailochan Tuladhar, Forum on Information Technology Nepal, Unlimit.com

More than the last mile, now covered in Nepal with coper and fiber, is the last meter: localization of end-user software in Nepali language, the language of the websites, etc.

Services from the telecentres in Nepal:

  • Agriculture prices
  • Digital literacy courses
  • Foreign remittances
  • Educaton aides for class 8, 9, 10
  • Tele-medicine
  • Convergence of telecentre and community radio
  • e-Shopping of telecentre products
  • e-Haatbazaar
  • Rojgari samachar: employment opportunities
  • Convergence of libraries & telecentres
  • Convergence of schools & telecentres
  • Convergence of healthpost & telecentres
  • Cyber volunteers (ICT Volunteers)

Drishtee: Connecting communities village by village
Vignesh Sornamohan, Drishtee

Drishtee works toward crating an impact in the lives of rural villages. It provides a kiosk-based platform for services such a s Health, Educatoin, Banking, Micro-finance, rural retail points, rural BPOs, opportunities to provide market access, linkages for physical products (e.g. eyeglasses) etc. now serving more than 14,000 rural kiosks.

For each franchisee and micro-enterprise, Drishtee implements various components for integrating themodule in the existing ecosystem. It provides suport to sensitise the community, undertake needs assessment, customise services, etc.

The model aggregates demand in 20 villages (a “milk-way”), which leads to sustainability, whithin the called ‘Social Enterprise and Livelihood Framework’ (SELF).

Example: lack of health workers? A woman is trained in firts aid and provided with basic first aid kits, like non-invasive diagnostic and pathological tests. Added to this, she is linked at the back with a physician, so that she can get better information or forward the patient to them.

Can content & services empower people?
Angelo Juan Ramos, PhilCeCNet (Philippine Community e-Center Network)

PhilCeCNet is an organization of various stakeholders working towards bringing the knolwedge society to all Filipinos, being its pillars: content development, infrastructure, capacity building and telecentre management.

What empowerment?

  • Access: access-utilization gap, cost, literacy, availability of content and services
  • Networking: F2F vs. virtual, levels of involvement in content & services creation and provision
  • Voice: sectoral issues (marginalized, voiceless, etc.), changes in advocacy, influence in policy, governance, economic participation, me vs. us vs. them, inclusion

To create content, the best approach is to create partnerships for a collaborative, participatory, community-based content development. This should be made combined with including sectoral and gender issues, thematic areas, emerging issues, etc.

The telecentre ecosystem should be expanded, by means of networking, new tools and technology, geographical expansion, etc.

Nevertheless, we certainly need better tools to measure impact, at both the quantitative and qualitative levels.


Telecentre Forum 2009 - eAsia 2009 (2009)

eAsia2009 (IX): Case studies of innovative applications and practitioners of the Global Telecentre Movement

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.

Case studies of innovative applications and practitioners of the Global Telecentre Movement
Chairs: Mahmud Hassan, Bangladesh Telecentre Network

Telecentres through Community Based Organizations (CBOs)
Raman V. Machiraju, Elister IT Solutions India

In financing services, community based organizations can help bridge the different perspectives that banks and especific customers have. Thus, telecentres can act as business facilitators to financial institutions, by adding in the human factor.

Koslanda Nenasala: Challenges and achievements
Sri Kanth

Hill country disabled group: many disabled people in rural areas cannot even get out from their own homes. Give them a laptop and proper training and they can reach out. Many telecentres provide these skills to disabled people.

M.A. Pemalatha & Brimal Prasad


is run from a srilankan Nenasala and offers job vacancies in both public and private sectors, including a job seekers database.

One of the major goals is to bring the gap between rural and urban societies. In this sense, both native and international languages are used for the convenience of all the communities.

The project had seed funding from ICTA Sri Lanka, got the e-Swabimani award 2009, and was selected by ICTA for his project replication programme.

Applications have increased from 49 to 619 from January 2009 to November 2009, and it’s having is major impact in rural areas.

So far, CVs have to be uploaded by the managers of the nanosalas in the project (now 5 of them, after the replication programme). This is one of the reasons nanosalas are so necessary for the project, but also a barrier for quickly scaling up and covering the 23 districts of the island.

The implementation of Rural M/SMEs Services using ICT: Egypt and Bangladesh
Rehab Yehia, ICT Trust Fund

Quick win project:

  • Short time frame
  • Specific objective
  • Limited scope
  • Quick effects
  • Built on previous experience
  • Using existing resources
  • Pilot project used as a prototype

Learning toolkits are created to teach SMEs in e-marketing, accounting and soft skills. These toolkits (normally in CDs) are distributed to 17 telecentrers in Egypt aiming to reach 1,200 M/SMEs, plus a web portal: Ayadina.net, now considered one of the top-five portals in Egypt for SMEs. The project also includes 4 training rounds with 50 trainers.

After having followed the e-marketing module, many SMEs have created their own websites where they offer they goods.

In Bangladesh the project is implemented in partnership with 30 telecentres and the project is similar to the Egyptian case, diferring only on the type of e-services provided.


Telecentre Forum 2009 - eAsia 2009 (2009)

eAsia2009 (VIII): Building capacity among telecentre operators for sustaining 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.

Building capacity among telecentre operators for sustaining telecentres
Chairs: Latha Pillai, Indira Gandhi National Open University

Basheerhamad Shadrach, telecentre.org Academy, International Deverlopment Research Centre

We have seen a shift from training to learning. Even children challenge the educational system to turn it into a learning system. This shift, if formalized, would also help in recognizing experience as learning, and give credit to it.

But, what kind of learning for telecentre operators, network operators, (digital) skills trainers, etc.? e-Learning? blended learning?

And how should the curriculum be shaped? formal? informal? In any case, the content has to be shaped towards the learner’s environment, not the teacher’s.

The way we design credit is also very important. Not only as recognition, but also as a means to transfer credits from one place to another, be it geographically (from one academy to another one) or from different levels of the educational track, that is, from an academy to higher up to the University.

Building Capacity among telecnetre operators for sustaining telecentres: The ATN’s Experience
Jose Avando Asles, Association of Telecentre Network

1,265 telecentres operated by ATN, with 28,700 users a day; 861,000 monthly; 10,335,000 yearly (source University of Brasilia).

Courses offered to telecentre operators: digital literacy, microsoft curricula for community learning, telecentre management course, digital entrepreneurism course.

Telecentre management course: online course, 60h

  • Information and business telecentre
  • Telecentre sustainability plan: how to treat telecentres as social enterprises that need their own funding
  • Telecentre financial planning
  • Marketing as a management tool
  • Telecentre and distance learning

Digital entrepreneurism course, online course, 60h

  • Basic Internet
  • Entrepreneurism
  • Managing business
  • Working in net
  • The use of Internet in business

During 2009, 643 people attended the Telecentre Management course and 484 the digital entrepreneurship. Also 30 operators from Mozambique followed the courses online.

Current status and future challentes of telecentre.org Academy of Sri Lanka
Harsha Wijeyawardhana, Univeristy of Colombo School of Computing

The Telecentre.or Academy of Sri Lanka was formed on 7th February 2009 at the Nenasala Convention. It was designed to enhance the committment that the government had already acquired with the Nenasala network.

The academy is a multi-stakeholder partnership, with academics, member organizations, non governmental organizations, etc.

The academy has already set up an e-learning platform based on Moodle and is now uploading all the content to the site, open for everyone. This platform, indeed, will host the whole learning management system (LMS) for the Global Academy.

ThaiTelecentre & its capacity building?
Kamolrat Intaratat, Thaitelecentre.org Academy

The Thai telecentres are normally based on their own resources, being community autonomous e-centres, being the main strategy networking and collaborating at the local and national level.

Being autonomous, e-commerce is really a goal both for e-inclusion and sustainability. Hence, courses (3 levels) in e-commerce is one of the key training strategies of ThaiTelecentre.org.

The Thai academy is tied to STOU (People Public Open University) and is demand driven, thus issuing any kind of certificate that is needed.

On the other hand, other courses are already being considered, as the MBA in Social Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is the key to sustainability
Ashis Sanyal, Department of Information Technology, India

The sustainability of the telecentre relies heavily on the telecentre operator’s capacity: you are not a self-employed person, you are an entrepreneur.

Telecentres aim to stimulate and respond to the needs of the community. Otherwise, they remain cybershops. Telecentres should be service oriented.

Requierd to start a telecentre:

  • Develop a business idea
  • Conduct a survey for community needs
  • Identify a target service
  • Crate business plan
  • Plan for sustainability


Ismael Peña-López: how to retain the valuous human capital built with these courses? Several speakers: Well, part of the agenda is also help the telecentre operators to climb up the professional ladder, so that they are hired in banks, corporations, etc. So, not only it is not a problem that trainees leave the telecentre, but a most wanted outcome. On the other hand, many of them will stay linked to the telecentre movement, legitimizing it with their own experience.

Aminata Maiga Fofana: actually, a way not to decapitalize the telecentre is internship and inner promotion, i.e., an expert user is promoted as an intern and supervised by the manager of the telecentre. If the manager leaves, the intern is promoted as the new manager and a new user is promoted as an intern. And so on.


Telecentre Forum 2009 - eAsia 2009 (2009)

eAsia2009 (VII): New Trends and Innovations in Technology for 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.

New Trends and Innovations in Technology for Telecentres
Chairs: Ram Tiwaree, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Greener and affordable telecentres
Danny Nagdev

The NComputing’s X550 kit connects several periferics (keyboard, mouse, screens) to a single computer.

Advantages of NComputing’s X550 kit: much cheaper than a server-client typical structure, almost all software’s worked, consumes low power, full Screen videos run smoothly, etc.

Limitations: No local USB support

Community empowerment through ICTs: evidences from grassroots in Bangladesh
Ananya Raihan, d.Net

Goal: to understand the linkage between community empowerment and ICTs, but comparing ICT penetration with the level of community empowerment in Bangladesh.

A first problem is that of the evolution and modification of metrics, as ICTs have changed in range and cost, thus changing what we before understood as low level of penetration (e.g. cheap TV sets have drastically replaced radios, which were considered the lowest level of technology adoption of all). On the other hand, is difficult to separate private from collective (a household, a household and their friends/neighbours) from public usage.

Indicator of empowerment:

  • Participatory democracy
  • Mobilization of community members towards social violence and the role of ICT over it
  • Community involvement in the roles and responsibilityes of the local government and the role of ICT over it
  • Level of knowledge of the community people about the local, national and international issues and the role of ICTs over it
  • Community involvement towards the local governmet annual activity plan and resource mobilization plan
  • Transparency and accountability of local government towards the community and the role of ICTs over it
  • Presence of collaboration between local government institution and local community organization regarding access to information through ICTs

Findings show that there does not seem to be any linkage amongst ICT penetration and empowerment, though there might be some weak correlation.

Empowering women through ICT education: An application of Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM)
Fatema Begum Labony, d.Net

A computer literacy project (CLP) with 18,525 students that took a computer course. The school authority would provide infrastructure while d.Net would teach the course.

The study shows the steps to adapt Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) by APC. The objective was to understand the extent of equality in acccess to ICTs by girls in the CLP.

Boys have five times more opportunity than girls to learn computer from public places and neighbour as gilrs have less facilities to go and avail it outsiders. Girls are afraid too to used computers.

Parents are also afraid that more “computer time” is less “school time” or, if it’s not, that the daughter has to stay longer time at school (thus, less time to study home, more time out of home, etc.).

Note: on gender evaluation methodology, please see also Gender Evaluation for Social Change.


Telecentre Forum 2009 - eAsia 2009 (2009)

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)