Archive for the ‘Telecentre’ Category

New Businesses for the Sustainability of Telecentres

October 5, 2010

A Telecentre in Rural Sri Lanka

“My farther read the news paper online, now he does not want to buy the papers” – some anecdotes tries to prove that Telecentres are fully integrated with rural societies and they depend on the Telecentres for various services.

In fact, if a person in rural Sri Lanka tries to read a news paper on line, he has to pay at least $ 0.5 whereas he can buy the new paper for around $ 0.25. It may be worth for a busy executive to read the online version of a news paper but may not be for rural folks.

Telecentres made the technology available for rural communities. So what?

The real issue was we didn’t have applicable content and services to deliver through Telecentres. So services such as Dialog tradenet ( can make a real difference in terms of providing relevant services to the community while sustaining Telecentres with incremental revenue.

Three potential roles

Finding products or services at cheaper rates for the community in the area (used products, etc.). That could be even finding the raw materials for SME businesses.

Help entrepreneurs to find the market. Exploit the free advertising opportunity in tradenet. There is a potential of reaching a huge market of nearly seven million people (customer base of Dialog).

Playing the role of an intermediary/Broker. Most of the rural products and service sellers find it difficult to interact with modern markets. So telecentre operator can play the role of intermediary to bridge the gap.


Telecentre Management Course by IGNOU

February 25, 2010

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)

“Telecentres are not sustainable; it is just waste of money”.

Let’s stop blaming telecentres, understand what went wrong and what went well. Let’s get things corrected. Now we should promote Telecentre Management as a profession not as just looking after some computers in a rural hut.

Starting a Telecentre Management Course is a really good and timely initiative by The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) together with other likeminded organizations.

Telecentre Management Course Contents;

CTCM-01: Fundamentals of Telecentres
CTCM-02: Understanding Community Needs
CTCM-03: Community Informatics
CTCM-04: Planning a Telecentre
CTCM-05: Telecentre Management Techniques
CTCM-06: Qualities of Telecentre Operators
CTCM-07: Basic IT Skills
CTCM-08: Content and Services in Telecentres
CTCM-09: Community Use of Telecentre
CTCM-10: Information Management at Telecentres
CTCM-11: Promoting Your Telecentre
CTCM-12: Assessing the Progress of Telecentres

It is good to hear that the course is going to be available in 10 international languages making it accessible to Telecentre Operators in other developing countries.


The Role of a Telecentre in Poverty Alleviation

June 3, 2009

[Telecentres and socio-economic development]

Poverty indeed has many faces. Many of these faces remain unrecognized or out of focus as they are linked to other aspects of deprivation, such as isolation. The Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) initiatives such as Telecentres can start attacking this vicious cycle from Isolation. The physical and social isolation may, in turn, negatively impact on economic, health and educational status and make it increasingly difficult for poor people to take advantage of poverty alleviation strategies.

Poverty can be described as the inability of enjoying the minimal standards of living. It has many dimensions to it and one way it can be explained is by using the following diagram, the ‘deprivation trap’ (Chambers, 1983).

Deprivation Trap

Deprivation Trap

All the aspects (pentagons) are tightly interconnected/ interdependent and any development initiative has to be multidimensional. But depending on the development programme and the core competencies of the institution which is implementing the programme they will focus more on one or more selected areas. A Telecentre which can connect particular community with the rest of the world through the communication facilities can mainly focus on the “isolation” section and drive through it to alleviate poverty by finding solutions to the other areas such as powerlessness, vulnerability, etc.

Due to Isolation;

Little participation (not part of the mainstream)
Telecentre can give a voice to the community and let that to be heard to the local and regional decision makers

Less informed (not aware)
Telecentre can provide the up-to-date/real time information to the community

Few contacts with important people/institutions (such as markets, other services and extension workers)
Telecentres can link the community with markets, government offices, extension offices and let the community to get the information/services from those.
Telecentres can provide educational facilities through e-Learning/ distance learning, etc. Can provide market prices to the farmers and help others finding the employments in urban areas

Though the proposed approach for Telecentres is with more focus on “isolation”, there will be positive impact on other dimensions too. People will be empowered with information such as on micro credit facilities, markets and public services, allowing them to make decisions that are better informed. Once they have access to market prices, the middle man can not easily exploit the farmers. So the poor farmers are less vulnerable. They will be able to earn more and save more.

Physical weakness will be countered with more awareness on diseases and health problems, preventive actions, etc. Delivering health related educational programmes through Telecentres will lead to good health conditions among family members, and handle other issues such as frequent pregnancies, births and deaths.

Most of the poor communities are living in disaster prone areas, and more vulnerable to natural disasters. Telecentre will make them more resistant through early warning, etc. and minimize the negative impact of those. Powerlessness always leads to exploitation, but a more connected community is harder to exploit and will have the power to negotiate on terms such as labour and production.