Who invented telecentres? Who discovered telecentres? When and where
were the first Plain Old Telecentre and first Multi-purpose Community
Telecentre erected. These questions, as akward as they may sound,
would probably be constested in the near future when ICT development
in AFRICA truly becomes synonymous with Telecentres. These would be
the direct result of the overwhelming "How to create" and "Do it
yourself" projects on Telecentres by the international development
Donors. When you run these along side the 11 distinct G7 pilot
projects on ICT, "telecentre" comes across like a panacea for ICT
development in Africa. May be it is. What do you think?
A typical private telecentre in Senegal (as I see it) is a small
box-shaped cement Kiosk sometime big enough to fit a car and fitted
with two smaller person-sized closet (called Cabines). Home garages
have been conveniently converted to telecentres. Add to that, good
lighting conditions, a sign, two phone line and one each to the
closest with telephones on wooden fixtures, electronic counters
within the circuits, chairs in the closet, a cash box, a table and
chair, and a devoted relative. In the case of Senegal, you`ve got your
Plain Old Telecentre (POT).
A host of other small business activites have been add to the POT.
These are a refreshment business, a stationary business, a video
club collection, a host of secretary services, an internet connection,
an artisan collection, a hairdressing salon, a shoe boutique, a
comestic collection, a tape collection, a photocopy machine service
etc. In some cases, room has been made for the POT in an existing
small business. Come tour Dakar to see the variety first hand.
The wide range of small proprietory business that can be juxtaposed
with the POT begs the questions. Should the definition of the
telecentre reflect the technology and ICT gadgetry it exploits (or can
exploit) or should it be defined interms of its supportive role to the
small enterprising and community business it is serving and will
continue to serve?
I think the definition of a telecentre must not reflects the former
(the technology and its preceived potential) but the actual use of the
technology. If not, it would be much like saying "The Potuguese,
Pedro Da Cintra discovered Gambia and Sierra Leone in 1460 and 1462
respectively" while forgeting that African settled and cultivated
these geographical locations centuries before"
Adrian Q. Labor