Rwanda Telecentre Network (RTN) has decided to take the lead of eliminating the digital gap and promoting digital opportunities in rural Rwanda by creating 1,000 Teleservice centres by the year 2015. This will be possible by implementing a unique business model that RTN is already familiar with and which was successfully implemented by Nyamata Teleservice Centre since 2004 in Eastern province of Rwanda. This model is unique in a sense that more emphasis is put on local content and services rather than infrastructures. The core idea is to enable ICT access point to move from traditional oriented services to a wide range of online services.
Each Teleservice centre will be operated by a village-based Entrepreneur or community-based cooperative and will able to deriver a wide range of public and private services such as Agriculture, e-government, Banking, insurance, health, e-learning, rural business process outsourcing, media services ect. The aim of the Teleservice Centres project is not only to bridge the digital divide, but also to narrow the “delivery gap” among government, business and social services.
While the Teleservice project will allow rural people to obtain all information and services at their doorstep, the unemployment problem of the country will also be addressed to a large extent, because at least 3,000 people will get full-time job.
RTN was established in 2006 as an association of local Telecentres operators with the support of International Development Research Centre (IDRC) through the Telecentre.org program. In 2009, RTN was legally registered under the status of not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. The overall mission of RTN is to implement a massive deployment of Teleservice centres as well as ensure that rural communities can get easy access to information and services they need through these centres . Ultimately, RTN envisages increasing the number, value and impact of teleservice centre at the community level.
The national vision (Vision 2020) of the government Rwanda and the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) recognizes the development and use of new information and communication technologies as a cross-cutting and enabling tool for the country’s development.
The National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) identified Telecentres as the main vehicle for providing access to ICTs in rural areas and as an essential agent of change in remote areas.
As part of NICI 2010 implementation, the Rwanda Development Board – Information Technology (RDB-IT) has already deployed 30 multi-purpose community telecentres (MCTs) in all 30 districts and 2 ICT buses . In addition, a small number of private ICT access point are operational and are offering basic ICT services such as computer training,Internet and secretarial services. Local and relevant content is the biggest challenge to Telecentres sustainability and a barrier for local community to exploit effectively the use of ICTs.
RTN is therefore committed to the cause of rural development by assisting the government in its efforts to promote information and communication technologies for development.