[Telecentres] Mobile ICTs & telecenters / mobile telecenters?

Don Cameron donc at internode.on.net
Mon Oct 11 08:23:04 BST 2004

>> For some years I've wondered about the future of telecenters - which cost
a fair amount of money to build and maintain - in the face of increasingly
smaller and more mobile ICTs (snip).

Hi Don,

This is why when we talk of "sustainability" we must be so careful to detail
just what it is we are trying to sustain. The common image of a Telecentre
is inherently unsustainable and most people understand this - It would be
foolish to promote a concept that by design is premised on the technologies
of today being artificially sustained into the future - such is not the way
of technology developments. Computers become smaller and more mobile. Land
telephony is replaced by mobile telephony. Low-speed (or non-existent) home
connectivity is replaced by high-speed connectivity. The physical community
of a Telecentre is by design geographically restrictive and must give way to
ICT-based interactions as more and more people join our community from
outlying areas, lacking in ability to physically participate because of
travel or time requirements. The success of a Telecentre must also lead to
its demise.

It is when we consider a Telecentre to be nothing more than a place to
access knowledge that we also understand the concept is inherently
unsustainable - But this does not mean the reality of Telecentre's is
unsustainable because most Telecentre's are so much more than this.

Communities, Governments and most NPO's correctly view emergency/crisis aid
centres as an essential community service. Governments exist to serve and
protect, and a Telecentre providing emergency support services and capacity
is perceived as an element of community worthy of being sustained. 

Small and impoverished communities identify a great many needs however not
all needs are prioritised as essential. Telecentre's that focus on essential
community needs will be supported and sustained through community
involvement (eg: the provision of banking services where commercial banks
have deemed the community too poor to support the commercial model so the
bank has left, or communities facing high crime rates with a Telecentre
working to mitigate youth crime) 

Telecentre sustainability is a matter of determining just what it is we wish
to sustain giving regard to community as well as political priorities and
ensuring our Telecentre's meet these needs. If by doing this we also sustain
a facility providing access to knowledge then this is a bonus, but it is not
a prerequisite.

Rgds, Don

More information about the telecentres mailing list