[Telecentres] Going forward

Andy Carvin acarvin at edc.org
Mon Sep 27 13:31:41 BST 2004

Hi Don,

I think you and I are on the same wavelength, so to speak. The 
Declaration and Plan of Action adopted at the Geneva summit will not be 
re-opened for negotiation, and the only two remaining issues open for 
debate are Internet governance, and funding mechanisms for bridging the 
digital divide between the North and the South. Because of this, it is 
important for us to look beyond WSIS, and come up with recommendations 
for implementing the Declaration and the Plan of Action, in the context 
of the role telecentres can have in this process.

This is why I and others have expressed interest in creating a 
longer-term, post-WSIS, network for developing and sharing strategies to 
implement sustainable telecentres, perhaps working with existing 
resources like the Digital Divide Network and newly forming groups like 
the Telecentres of the Americas Project. If you look at the 
introductions written by members of our group, you can see that we are 
comprised of some very talented, creative people working on telecentres 
and related projects all over the globe. Like you, Don, I think we can 
tap into this critical mass of creativity assembled here to think beyond 
WSIS and explore ways to work together to help the WSIS plan of action 
come true.

So let me take a moment and try to synthesize what has been suggested by 
group members over the last several days.

Mission of the telecentres working group:
To represent the interest of the telecentres movement -- telecottages, 
community technology centers, community access points and other public 
ICT access initiatives -- in the WSIS process and beyond, and advocating 
telecentres as an important tool in achieving relevent aspects of the UN 
Millennium Development Goals.

How we will accomplish this mission:

Participate in WSIS planning meetings (Prepcoms), thematic and regional 
meetings, and the Tunis summit. Working group members representing a 
broad cross-section of the telecentre movement would be encouraged to 
participate in the drafting of civil society statements, reports, 
position papers and other content.

Research, identify and propose specific telecentre-related activities 
that civil society can develop to help implement the WSIS plan of 
action. Examples: developing toolkits for implementing sustainable 
telecentres; translating existing telecentre tools and curricula for 
different linguistic and cultural contexts; organizing a virtual global 
network of telecentres and telecentre associations for sharing and 
creating knowledge, etc.

Is something like this useful? Any other suggestions? Changes?


Don Cameron wrote:
> Thanks for your thoughts Andy.
> The invitation for Telecentre's (as representatives of civil society) to
> participate in WSIS has been a long and hard-fought battle since our first
> representations prior to Prepcom1, and it's terrific to now have this
> opportunity, and I (amongst others) thank you for it - providing
> Telecentre's are not again marginalized by WSIS or cited as being "too
> narrow a focus for a thematic group"
> (http://wsis.ecommons.ca/node/view/457). This shows a distinct lack of
> understanding about the role of Telecentre's in today's society.
> Most critics of WSIS, many of whom are practitioners and other regular
> participants on Telecentre forums, cite the major issue as being a lack of
> civil engagement compounded by the fact that what engagement there is falls
> far short of true civil representation: "Civil society needs to claim its
> role in WSIS and demand that information should be for the good of humanity.
> A pro-development stamp is needed on the WSIS process" (South Asia
> Partnership Summary Report: Communication for Social Change Forum"
> http://action.web.ca/home/sap/issues.shtml?x=41483&AA_EX_Session=913a7783532
> f6e3fc1c6ba5eff0d51ed)
> The views of many Telecentre practitioners about WSIS are well summarized by
> the following extract:
> "During a conversation with Sarah Parkinson of IDRC I re-affirmed my
> thinking, that what we call the 'Civil Society' is in fact a collection of
> middle-class researchers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) workers and
> the like. People with the time and money to spend far too much time on the
> internet, these people feel strongly about injustice and try to rectify it.
> But are not the people suffering the injustice of poverty and isolation.
> Then is it true that Civil Society does not even come from the population we
> claim to represent." (Community Information Network for Southern Africa
> editorial
> http://www.cinsa.info/portal/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=325&Itemi
> d=110).
> I am not suggesting that we do not participate in WSIS, to the contrary. I
> am suggesting it is our responsibility as community representatives to
> require that WSIS extends itself beyond a closed-door conference venue and
> incorporates true civil representation - these are not new issues having
> been raised many times within and external to the WSIS process, and WSIS
> itself has now had more than two years to develop processes for civil
> engagement.
> The Telecentre movement can help WSIS by offering a tremendous opportunity
> for delegates to engage with society - if this is what WSIS delegates truly
> want to do. However if WSIS stands aloof and only accepts input by
> invitation there is probably little we can offer in the way of help.
> Anything we do contribute would be subject to the determinations of people
> inherently lacking in experience and exposure.
> If I can presume to ask a question of the list in turn... What can the
> Telecentre movement offer to help WSIS achieve civil engagement thereby
> fostering the development of the information society? - Answers to this
> question may well offer insight into how best the movement is represented at
> WSIS, whether by select individuals or the method of a unified
> representation.
> Rgds, Don

Andy Carvin
Program Director
EDC Center for Media & Community
acarvin @ edc . org

More information about the telecentres mailing list