The national vision (Vision 2020) of the government Rwanda and the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) recognize the development and use of new information and communication technologies as a cross cutting and enabling tool for the country’s development.
Embracing this vision and strategy, the National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NIC) Plan has identified rural ICT access centres known also as Telecentres as the main vehicle for providing access to ICTs in rural areas and as an essential agent of change in remote areas.
The Rwanda Telecentre movement is relatively young as the first community Telecentre was established in 2003 in coffee grower’s community of Maraca in Northern part of Rwanda.
As part of Nation ICT plan implementation, in 2005 the government of Rwanda through Rwanda Information and Technology Authority (RITA) announced a National plan of rolling out Telecentres. So far, 12 centres and 2 mobile ICT buses are operational and other 18 centres are to be launched soon. In addition, more that 200 ICT access point are operational and are offering basic ICT services such as computer training-mail services and secretarial services. These centres are generally located in semi-urban and rural areas and are working in isolation.
In 2006, Rwanda Telecentre Network (RTN) was established with the support of IDRC' Telecentre.org and has given a mandate of supporting the government in the national Telecentre program. The overall goal of RTN is to implement a massive deployment of Telecentres as well as developing content and services that would be derived to rural communities through these Telecentres. Ultimately, RTN envisage increasing the number, value and impact of telecentres at the community level.
Similarly, with RTN support, Telecentres will have better coordination, content and services to offer, they will also be run by people with strong community development and business skills
However, based on government ICT plan, this year RTN has announced a country wide plan of setting up 1,000 Teleservice centres by the year 2015 in which every sector at village level would have at least 2 centres. Teleservice centre will be run either by communities with clear sustainable business model or run by local entrepreneur based on franchising arrangement. Since there is no study that was conducted yet at national level to assess the ICT status at village level, we strongly believe that a baseline survey would be a key step towards realising RTN 1,000 Teleservice centre Project;