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.



Dialog tradenet is a Truly Inclusive System

July 26, 2010

Dialog tradenet covers all the strata of the socio-economic pyramid. It has some means of access for every Sri Lankan, making it a truly inclusive system.

Dialog tradenet serves all

E – English S – Sinhalese T – Tamil

USSD: #977# (From a Dialog Mobile)
SMS: In all three languages
Voice: 977 (From a Dialog Mobile)


ICT4D Truth

April 21, 2010

Fake ICT4D Projects

Fake ICT4D Projects

The concept of ICT4D is being abused by many people / companies / organizations for their own benefit. So now it is a challenge to convince people and get their support for genuine ICT4 Development (ICT4D) initiatives.

Following are some instances of fake ICT4D projects;

ICT4D projects to gain Political Mileage
ICT4D projects to get mere publicity
Projects just targeting Awards not real results
Projects to just please donors
‘D’ neglected ICT4D projects

Any organization, which implements ICT4D projects, could have many objectives, which is natural. But it is essential to give priority to people and their development if those are to be genuine ICT4D initiatives.

So, as development activists / ICT4D activists, it is our responsibility to highlight genuine ICT4D initiatives, give them due recognition and make them models for others to follow.


Research on “Mobile Phones for Agricultural Development in Sri Lanka”

March 17, 2010

sameera_research Mobile Phone for Agriculture

Interviewing farmers in Dambulla (Sri Lanka)

With the exponential growth of mobile telephony in developing world, mainly in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the mobile phone has become one of the best channels to reach the rural farmers.

Here in Sri Lanka, already there are some mobile phone (telephone) based initiatives to provide the agricultural and other related services. In this research some of the existing initiatives were studied to understand the reasons for success/failure and new ways for improvements;

Following are three main initiatives studied;

1920 – Toll Free Agrarian advisory service by Ministry of Agriculture
1919 – Government Information Centre, Telephone Service
GovSMS – SMS based Agricultural Commodity Price Dissemination

The survey was conducted in Dambull (in Central Province of Sri Lanka) area with hundred (100) vegetable and fruit farmers and covered many areas such as;
Agricultural information requirements of farmers, practical challenges, their existing information sources, their perceptions and expectations with regard to mobile telephony in agriculture, technical aspects, financial aspects, etc.

Hoping to share some of the findings here in the future.


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.