Botswana Speaks blog

7 Reasons Why Libraries Are the New Telecentres

According to an article published on ICTworks, as those, who have been in and around community-based ICT/Internet access (community informatics) initiatives well know, the primary dilemma for these activities (e.g. Telecentres) is how to ensure sufficient sustainability, organizational stability and programmatic flexibility to allow for survival once the immediate round of funding which helped them launch, runs out.


(Note that I’ve elsewhere discussed my thoughts on Next Generation Telecentres (NGTs) and Re-thinking Telecentres: A Community Informatics Approach which outline what I see as the updated role for Telecentres–or as I discuss below, libraries.)

Contrary to earlier predictions and often intemperate assertions that the market would resolve all Internet access and use issues, the need for community-based Internet access facilities has not disappeared neither in the Global South nor the Global North as a consequence of the “mobile revolution“. 

Rather what has happened as a result of the widespread distribution of mobiles is that the need for “access” has shifted to focus more particularly on those falling into the gaps in the overwhelmingly commercial and for profit Internet environment–the poor, the illiterate and semi-illiterate, migrants, those with physical disabilities–in many instances a diminishing group as the cost of access declines–but not one that has or will disappear altogether.

And alongside these there is the increasing number of those who require support and enablement in taking advantage of the access which has been made available–those requiring training, those requiring moral support in entering into an unfamiliar technological space, those with specific interests or needs achievable through the use of ICTs but who lack the knowledge or skill (and resources) to realize these effectively.

In the initial round of funding for public Internet access both in the North and the South the challenge of sustainability was not, by and large, overcome and many, even most Telecentres failed and programs to support public Internet access were abandoned

In part this was because of a perceived decline in need (those who remained without Internet access often being socially “invisible” and economically and politically marginal) and partly because the fashion among funders and policy makers shifted elsewhere (primarily to mobiles).

Read more on ICTworks

SA mobile data traffic to grow eight-fold
Mobile data is ‘black gold’

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