Mr. Paul is running a telecentre in Katesh, in the north-east of Tanzania. His telecentre provides computer training, the onl...
Mr. Paul is running a telecentre in Katesh, in the north-east of Tanzania. His telecentre provides computer training, the only one in the region. His customers need information from the internet, like market price information. But the internet has not yet reached Katesh. Mr. Paul is planning to have an internet connection and an email address soon, but he needs information on how to go about it.
I met Mr. Paul last week in Mwanza. He was one of the participants of the first Tanzanian Telecentre Network workshop. Together with many others, I have been planning this workshop for months. Meeting Mr. Paul made again clear to me why a telecentre network is needed. All participants came with questions and all came with answers on: How to improve their services to the community?. Where to get ICT support? Telecentre puzzles were solved in the workshop and its grapevines. Still many need to be solved. By sharing and by joining forces.
In a speed geek session, every telecentre presented its approach to provide services to the community in a sustainable way. Some provide market price information to farmers; others provide computer courses to students, women, elderly, disabled, helping them to get a job. Some provide a community radio to inform the villages on burning issues like HIV-AIDS prevention, others provide library services. Some are entirely financed by the community; others share their internet connection with nearby schools. Some use VSAT connections; others have switched to recently available broadband. The telecentre leaders advised Mr Paul on all the available options.
Through a mapping exercise, the telecentres present were indicated on a Google Earth map. Mr. Paul found out that other telecentres actually were not that far away from him! He now knows who he can contact for support.
Then, after two days of workshopping, it is 4pm. It has been an exhausting day; participants discussed a vision, mission, objectives and organisational structure of their network, and made extensive use of the left part of their brains.
Would there still be anything wise to do, apart from calling it a day? Yes. Let’s use the right part of the brain and create a logo for the network! I was amazed by the sudden energy and creativity burst and tried to grasp it in a picture: the designers, including Mr. Paul standing in the middle, present the winning logo.
Mr. Paul went back to Katesh, connected to a whole new network of colleagues through his mobile. With confidence he told me that the internet connection will soon follow.