[Telecentres] Working Group

Don Cameron donc at internode.on.net
Wed Sep 29 21:01:39 BST 2004

>> Shahiduddin Akbar comments that "Nowhere in the world, Telecentre has
widely expanded".


Arun I believe the reason for this (an aspect possibly integral to any WSIS
presentation) is because most early Telecentre’s were developed by
comparatively affluent communities where the success of the Telecentre
resulted in conceptual obsolescence and project transformation. There are
arguably a great many more Telecentre’s today, however we do not call them
Telecentre’s – These are Internet Cafés, Library PAC’s (Public Access
Centre’s), BIC’s & BEC’s (Business Incubation and Enterprise Centres) and
other point-of-presence initiatives born from the original concept of a
Telecentre. A great many of these societies have also developed to the
extent where physical points-of-presence are no longer required (wide
domestic broadband dispersal and other modes of fostering access,
familiarisation, training and content development). The number of
Telecentre’s is neither static nor declining
 rather the concept is evolving
as expected of any community initiative facing changes in community and
market conditions (albeit Telecentre’s contributed to this change).


These are also communities where a concept of artificially sustaining a
Telecentre (often cited by Government grant providers and others as an
overriding requirement of all Telecentre’s, although argued less so by most
practitioners), can in fact be counterproductive to the overriding mission
of community economic development. Technology and ICT providers do not enter
a market and generate competitive advantage when the market is dominated by
a single entity artificially sustained by Government (Australia lost a great
many of our small community ISP’s and other ICT initiatives before we learnt
the truth of this lesson and ceased funding Telecentre’s in affluent


Matters of sustainability and Telecentre growth projections are aspects
specific to communities lacking the economic and/or educational base and
ability to move the mission of a Telecentre to the next stage of
development. I am very supportive of a concept to sustain and develop
Telecentre’s where a Telecentre is required to meet the objectives of a
needy community – less than supportive of expending tax-payer funds to
artificially prop-up Telecentre’s acting in competition with other service
providers in affluent communities. In acknowledgement that funds will always
be limited, I believe part of our focus should be to construct a model or
formulae to help determine just where sustainability support and growth is
required (the Solomon Islands?) and where such support is not required and
possibly detrimental to other development (Sydney and surrounds for
example). WSIS could well be used as a vessel to help support the equitable
deployment of resources, and I would like nothing more than to see Australia
redirect some funds away from local initiatives and financially support
initiatives in the Solomon Islands on a basis of recognising the importance
of Telecentre’s for these communities as a focus of international aid.  


Rgds, Don   


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