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Telecentres in Developing Countries. What are Telecentres? . “Community Resources that offer access to information and communication technologies for inducing development among marginalised population with little hope of otherwise partcipating in benefits of

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what are telecentres
What are Telecentres?

“CommunityResources that offer access

to information and communication

technologies for inducing development

among marginalised population with little

hope of otherwise partcipating in benefits of

the information revolution that the

developing world is now enjoyihng.”

- Harris et. all

what are telecentres3
What are Telecentres?
  • Are we including “telecottages” in our discussion today?
    • Focus “on social objectives such as learning, access to technology, access to work”
  • As distinct from telecentres?
    • “Commercially focused and emphasis is placed on the provision of a working environment for teleworkers”

(British Telecentre Association by way of Falch et al. 2003)

a global economic perspective
A Global Economic Perspective

“Adequate telecommunication facilities have become ever more important for attracting investments and for achieving integration in the world economy. Countries without an adequate telecom infrastructure and without local expertise in ICT will find it very difficult to remain competitive in the world market.” (Falch & Anyimadu 2003)

a community perspective
A Community Perspective
  • Community cohesion can benefit and be harmed by access to global information and communication
  • Community development practice can be informed by the vast resources available through ICTs
  • Traditional sociomoral structures can be undermined by the influence of access to global information
stakeholders and interests
Stakeholders and Interests
  • Stakeholders
    • Technical Expert
    • Users
    • Business Owners
    • Policy Makers
  • Interests/Values
    • Economic/Social Development
    • Information/Communication Access
    • Economic Sustainability
key issue sustainability
Key Issue : Sustainability
  • “The sustainability of telecentres has emerged as a key issue in the debate surrounding the use of ICTs for development…. Experience from telecentre experiments suggests that four types of sustainability exists for telecentres:
      • …financial viability,
      • …staff capability,
      • …community acceptance,
      • …service delivery.” (Harris et al.)
accomplishments to date
Accomplishments to Date
  • A number of different models for development of Telecentres applied in different parts of the world.
  • 3 Case Studies in developing world
    • Samaikya Agritech P. Ltd, AP, India
    • Keltron Information Kiskos, Kerala, India
    • Case of Ghana
samaikya agritech p ltd
Samaikya Agritech P. Ltd.
  • A private company operating telecentres in Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
  • Main Objective for running – earn profit by providing technical assistance to farmers
  • Centres manned by qualified agricultural graduates.
  • Centres equipped with computers linked to head-office in capital through modem to modem telephone connection.
samaikya agritech p ltd12
Samaikya Agritech P. Ltd.
  • Services provided include:

- technical assitance to member farmers

- inputs such as seeds, fertilisers

- machinery, tools hire

- water analyses, field mapping

- field inspections by specialists

samaikya agritech p ltd13
Samaikya Agritech P. Ltd.
  • Farmers register with centres a pay a fee of Rs 150 ($3) per growing season.
  • To remain in business, the farmers it serves have to be satisfied with the service provided.
  • An example of an economically viable, self-sustaining tele-centre – driven my market demand.
keltron information kiosks
Keltron Information Kiosks
  • Telecentres run by electronics department of Kerala(India) government.
  • Main objective – to faciliate delivery of government services through ICTs.
  • Ownership – still in experimental phase – state gov./local gov./priate ownership.
  • Kiosk operates on a 64kbps leased line with 20 terminals, 12 of which are connected to internet.
keltron information kiosks15
Keltron Information Kiosks
  • Other than providing internet use, the kiosks provide a mix of e-government services and locally developed community based services. E.g. :-
  • Agricultural support
  • A variety of other domains like industry information, grievance system etc.
  • List is expected to expand more to include services like employment news, e-mail etc.
keltron information kiosks16
Keltron Information Kiosks
  • Centre provides internet access to around 50 people daily, charging Rs 25(.5$)/hr.
  • Centres are expected to be self-sustaining by generating their own revenue from customer fees, advertisements etc.
  • How is this model different from the one discussed previously?
case of ghana information and communication resources
Case of Ghana Information and Communication Resources

--numbers per 100 inhabitants

(Falch et al. 03)

information and communication resources
Information and Communication Resources
  • Very low penetration of phone lines.
  • Same holds true for other ICTs.
  • Communication infrastructure focused on external rather than internal communication – its easier to make an international call from a capital than to connect to rural neighbourhood !
telecentres in ghana
Telecentres in Ghana
  • Have compensated for low penetration of phone lines in at least some of the areas.
  • Majority of them established by small scale private entrepreneurs with commercial orientation.
  • Major source of funding – entrepreneur’s own funds/loans.
telecentres in ghana20
Telecentres in Ghana
  • Example of standard equipment at a telecentre – two phone lines, a fax, a photocopier and a one/two computers.
  • Main source of revenue – outgoing phone calls.
  • Other services like photocopying, typing etc. are also provided. Some of them offer email service as well.
telecentres in ghana21
Telecentres in Ghana
  • Use of telephone services vary from personal reasons like calling relatives to calling for business purposes.
  • Each telecentre provides employment to 2-3 people.
  • How are these Telecentres different from the previous two cases?
some observations
Some Observations
  • Delivery of development assistance using ICTs represents a business proposition.
  • Profit motives foster a customer-oriented, demand-driven approach to development.
  • Contextual issues have an extermely strong impact on the types of services offered as well as achieving sustainability.
some observations23
Some Observations
  • In some of the cases, public/private partenership can offer potential for financial sustainability as well as the development of the community.
  • In 3 of the cases studied, development of telecentres has helped in regional development, increase in cohesion as well generation of employment.
challenges ahead
Challenges Ahead
  • Keeping costs – capital as well recurrent, low is one of the keys to economic sustainability.
  • Generating revenue from diverse fees and services –
  • Revenue from core communication applications.
  • Gradual growth of other revenue sources.
challenges ahead25
Challenges Ahead
  • Benefitting from network effects – Metcalfe effect which states that value of an infrastructure grows with square of number of users.
  • Economies of scale and scope

- attracting more number of users.

- offering wider range of services.

challenges ahead26
Challenges Ahead
  • Identification of information and communication needs of the users.
  • Guarding against potential negative externalities – making sure that every region/every community benefits from the development of such services.
  • Designing appropriate policies.
  • Building local capability – ensuring proper technical training of the operators.
  • Information technology and the ability to use it – a critical factor in generating wealth, power and knowledge.
  • Telecentres
  • A low cost opportunity for providing local access to these services.
  • Also contribute to the enhancement of local economic and cultural development of the community
  • Economic Sustanability : Key issue in establishing viable telecentres.
  • Businesses, government, non-profit

organizations – have different capabilities

and serve different roles for achieving the

final goal of access to ICTs in rural areas.

  • Best, M.L. and Maclay, C.M. (2002) “Community Internet Access in Rural Areas: Solving the Economic Sustainability Puzzle.” In Kirkman, G. (ed.). The Global Information Technology Report 2001-2002: Readiness for the Networked World. Oxford University Press.
  • Falch, M. and Anyimadu, A. (2003) “Tele-centres as a way of achieving universal access—the case of Ghana.” Telecommunications Policy, 27, 21-39.
  • Harris, R. (2001) “Telecentres in Rural Asia: Towards a Success Model.” In Conference Proceedings of International Conference on Information Technology, Communications and Development. Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • Harris, R.W., Kumar, A., and Balaji, V. (forthcoming) “Sustainable Telecentres? Two Cases from India.” ICTs and Development: New Opportunities, Perspectives and Challenges. Ashgate Publishers.
  • Obra, A., Camara, S.B., and Melendez, A.P. (2002) “The economic and organizational aspects of telecentres: the Spanish case.” Technovation, 22. 785-798.
  • Robinson, S.S. “Telecentres in Mexico: Learning the Hard Way.” UW availability online at: