Telecentres

Source: UNESCAP
The Telecentre Online Database collects existing research, evaluation reports, project documents and other information available in English on the Internet that are related to telecentre projects in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as information gathered from websites of the telecentres, donor institutions and agencies that implement telecentre projects. April 2008. [see more]
In recent decades, an exponential increase has been registered in the creation and development of new technologies, particularly those related to information and technology. However, the present global configuration in terms of availability of these technologies evidences the continuation of an unequal distribution of power and wealth, so that the so-called "digital divide" becomes a sub-dimension of the economic gap existing between more developed and less developed countries. These inequities are also registered to the interior of societies, particularly in the poorest ones, where the access and property of new technologies is concentrated on the highest socio-economic levels.

In this context, several action plans have been brought forward aiming at breaking the digital divide and contributing to the construction and strengthening of the information society in all regions of the world. Among these initiatives is the installation of telecentres. Although these telecentres are classified into several groups - according to their public character, type of management, services offered, etc. - there is certain consensus in defining them as "physical spaces that provide individuals, community groups and organizations with public access to the information and communication technologies in order to contribute to their educative, personal, social and economic development". The sole provision of free or low-cost access to ICTs is not the essential characteristic of telecentres, being such characteristic their community dimension. It is a fact that the successful realization of telecentre projects depends mainly on carrying out their installation and development with and for the community, thus respecting its specific demands. Telecentres then turn out to be spaces for the promotion of digital inclusion, social equity and local development, through mutual learning and exchange, particularly in areas and social sectors with poor access to ICTs. In this sense, for example, the potential of telecentres for strengthening communities in rural areas has been stressed. The reduction in the gender gap, which is especially related to the role of women in the production, access and use of new technologies, has also been pointed out as one of the potential benefits of telecentres, for example, through the design of policies that would favour the use and management of such spaces by women.

One of the main dangers posed to the survival of telecentres is their transformation into "cybercafe-type" facilities. That is to say, to stop being focused on human development and democratisation of technologies, and being instead turned into spaces just aimed at consumption and entertainment. A number of studies have stressed the role played by cybercafes in providing access and connection at low prices, which would thus contribute to a wider dissemination of ICTs. However, those who work on the promotion of ICTs for development usually make a clear distinction between both type of facilities. As they indicate, that which differentiates telecentres from cybercafes is the explicit purpose of the first ones to become instruments for human development, to channel local needs and to contribute to a change in community reality. For this purpose, it is necessary to implement long-term training programmes aimed at users and managers, in order to achieve a real social appropriation of technologies, given the fact that they do not promote development by themselves, but by means of the capability and purposes for which they are used.

The financing problem also affects the feasibility of this kind of projects. Since at first telecentres appear as initiatives that are scarcely or no profitable at all, external financing - either from public institutions or foreign donors - is needed for their operation. The issue of self-sustainability is turned then into an imperative since foreign investment is generally not granted for long periods of time. In this sense, the potential adaptability of telecentres has been pointed out as a factor that may contribute to their successful development without making them lose their characteristic community dynamics by means of the implementation of self-financing or complementary financing strategies based on the provision of additional services to the community (such as PC repair services, photocopy services, etc).
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UPDATES
Monday, April 07 2008
Telecentre online database
(Source: UNESCAP)
Monday, February 18 2008
Telecentres for universal access: engendered policy options
(Source: Women in Action)

Telecentres lessons and experiences

Telecentres experiences, lessons and trends (The Commonwealth of learning)

Telecentres in Pakistan: A way forward (i4d)

Telecentres - The Egyptian experience (i4d)

Telecenters and community resource and information centres in Pakistan (Salman Ansari Technology Consultants)

telecentre.org

Research for telecenter development: obstacles and opportunities (Cornell University)

The role of telecenters in development communication and the digital divide (Cornell University)

ICTs, telecenters and community development (Cornell University)

Lessons from the field: ICTs in telecenters (The Digital Dividend Project - World Resources Institute)

UNESCO: Community Multimedia Centres (UNESCO)

Rethinking telecenters: knowledge demands, marginal markets, microbanks and remittance flows (Internet Society (ISOC))

Telecentre literature review (Center for International Development & Conflict Management - University of Maryland)

Telecentres in developing regions

Telecentre online database (UNESCAP)

African experience with telecenters (eOTI)

Wondering about telecentres: can they contribute to sustainable development in Latin America? (IDRC)

Lessons from community telecentres in Latin America and the Caribbean (Chasquinet)

Telecentres as a tool for rural development

Telecenters and rural communities (Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT))

School-based telecenters: an approach to rural access to ICTs (Women of Uganda Network)

Comparing urban and rural telecenters costs (Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT))

Information nodes in the rural landscapes (Information for Development (I4D))

Telecenters for socioeconomic and rural development in Latin American and the Caribbean (Inter American Development Bank (IADB))

Integrated rural development and universal access (ITU)

Telecentres in Rural Asia: Towards a Success Model (UNPAN (United Nations Online Network in Public Administration and Finance))

Commonalities and differences between telecentres and cybercafes

Less Cyber, More Café (Minciu Sodas)

Telecenter sustainability-myths and opportunities (FAO)

Commercial cybercafés: A useful weapon against the "digital divide"? (eLearningeuropa.info)

Public telephone & Internet services in Africa - The rise of telecentre & cybercafe (APEC Telecenter Workshop)

Evaluation and sustainability

Telecenters and telecommunications development: options and strategies (DNTA)

Telecentres sustainability: what does it mean? (Chasquinet)

Comparing approaches: telecentre evaluation experiences in Asia and Latin America (Electronic Journal on Information Systems in Developing Countries (EJISDC))

Telecentre evaluation: a global perspective (Chasquinet)

Themes and issues in telecentre sustainability (University of Manchester)

Sustainable telecentres? Two cases from India (Development Gateway)

The community telecentre cookbook for Africa: recipes for self-sustainability (UNESCO)

Introducing gender in telecentre analysis

Telecentres for universal access: engendered policy options (Women in Action)

Creating a participatory telecenter enterprise (Cornell University)

Telecenters and the gender dimension: an examination of how engendered telecenters are diffused in Africa (Soul Beat Africa)

Gender analysis of telecentre evaluation methodology (APC WNSP)

Telecentres for development: critical views

eframing the Role of Telecentres in Development (University of Manchester)

Using Stakeholder Theory to Analyze Telecenter Projects (MIT Press Journals)

Prometheus riding a cadillac? Telecentres as the promised flame of knowledge (Cornell University)

Thoughts on the telecenter as a model for ICT deployment in the rural "South" (SSRC (Social Science Research Council))

The lamp without a genie: using telecentres for development without expecting miracles (IDRC)


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