Fw: [Telecentres] Working Group
David Leeming PFnet
leeming at pipolfastaem.gov.sb
Thu Sep 30 11:09:09 BST 2004
As you bring us up, more on the Solomons. The approach where the demand from the community and the awareness and skills are an essential part of growth of the telecentres is borne out of the conditions here. Look at a map of the Solomons - don't just see a few large islands, but screw your eyes up so you can only see the hundreds of pinpoint communities, all isolated from each other. This implies many risks to sustainability. So we start small and allow the community to drive the growth - or not - depending on their perceived needs. Participatory research is an important part, too, and great with donors and/or making a business case.
What we want is for agencies to support applications of the network, rather than direct support, although we have welcomed that input in the initial growth stage. It's important for players in the different sectors to take ownership of this idea, and then we can help them to utilise the network which also helps to sustain it and stimulates utilisation - a win win situation.
However, in our experience it is very difficult to get these central institutions to take up this step and realise the potential. Even in simple matters such as creating an email enquiry point, with appropriate procedures and training (this is CRM really). So, these ideas should also be targeted at the points where these programmes are written. That is in the planning departments of government, but also the aid donor communities.
----- Original Message -----
From: Don Cameron
To: 'Subbiah Arunachalam' ; 'Unisys' ; telecentres at wsis-cs.org
Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2004 9:01 PM
Subject: RE: [Telecentres] Working Group
>> 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 communities).
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.
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