|Chapter 7: Using Networks to Strengthen Telecenters
Ultimately, the notion is that the telecentre.org umbrella offers a strong sense of common cause and shared identity among people working in telecenters and community technology around the world. What these centers are called doesn’t matter; it’s the shared commitment to grassroots technology access for development that’s important.This broader telecentre.org community is already emerging in its own right. As noted above, many of the networks supported through social investment programs are already working together, creating publications such as Telecentre Times and collaborating on the creation of an international “telecenter academy.”(1)
7.5. Step-by-Step: The telecentre.org Model for How to Build a Telecenter Network(2)
As the previous section describes, telecentre.org has played a leading role in fostering the creation of telecenter networks and ecosystems around the world. In the process, they have developed a well-articulated model of how to proceed. In this section, Mark Surman of telecentre.org presents a single, unified description of the telecentre.org approach. Its work has influenced everyone’s thinking, including our own, so the reader will certainly recognize elements of the telecentre.org model in the work of many of the groups described in other sections of this book.
As the case studies in this chapter demonstrate, networks can play a central role in improving telecenters’ sustainability and impact. At a basic level, networks are a powerful tool to ensure that those running telecenters have the skills and support they need to be successful in their day-to-day work. However, networks can also play a central role in developing and distributing value-added services that telecenters can then offer to these communities. It is these services—education, health care, banking, and e-Government—that have the greatest potential to generate revenue for telecenters and drive development impacts in communities.Whether you are a policy-maker rolling out a national telecenter program
or a grassroots telecenter leader, you should consider taking an active role in establishing a telecenter network in your country. In its work with networks around the world, telecentre.org has developed five steps to help with this process: