The telecenter movement’s exceptional growth in the past decade has been driven by two key factors: recognition of the importance of information and communication technology (ICT) for development and poverty alleviation, and the fact that “shared-access facilities,” such as telecenters, offer the most promise for extending the reach of ICT to the greatest number of people.
Telecenters exist in almost every country. They exist under a variety of names (including information kiosks, community technology centers, infocenters, community-multimedia centers, village knowledge centers, school-based telecenters, etc.) that reflect their diversity. People use them as community centers and learning centers, places where people can meet, talk, share stories, learn new skills, access information resources and online courses. People use them as technology centers, to make photocopies, to access the Internet, to contact family members in distant places. Finally, people use them as business centers, to transact business, to pay bills, to look up business opportunities, to advertise services, to develop marketing materials, etc.
Under most of these different names and the different models they represent, telecenters are tools for development across sectors. As such, they are of interest to a broad spectrum of individuals, firms, and organizations in developing countries.
This book identifies and discusses the most pressing issues facing the global telecenter movement, presents a condensed view of the current state of knowledge with regard to telecenters, and highlights possible paths forward. Our goal with this book is to help you move forward, to inspire you, and, whenever possible, to guide you.Our primary audience for this book consists of those individuals, firms, and organizations that are most likely to be involved, either directly or indirectly, in the planning and deployment of telecenters around the world, with an emphasis on large-scale deployments. Our secondary audience for this book consists of all those who might benefit from telecenters and therefore would be interested in better understanding their evolution and future potential. Whether you are a government official thinking through how best to support a national telecenter scale-up initiative, an entrepreneur hoping to start up your first telecenter, or the CEO of a private company seeking to expand the range of services offered through your existing network of telecenters, this book is for you.