Thailand’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT) initiative to start supporting telecentres in 2007 has lead to the establishment of over 1000 telecentres and greatly helped reduce and transform the digital divide in Thailand into an opportunity by creating the perfect environment and the necessary ICT infrastructures country-wide.
This is according to Mr. Mohamed Alasow an industry expert from Thailand with a lot of experience having worked under the Research Center of Communication and Development Knowledge Management (CCDKM) program for over two years and experienced firsthand how the MICT proliferated the telecenter initiative and donated ICT equipments to telecentres, provided support and ICT training, technical know-how, public relation support and other activities intended to move Telecentres to a sustainable level.CCDKM is one of the key partners with the MICT of Thailand and focuses on capacity building, collecting and disseminating information, and on researching contemporary community based issues, Information and research will be continuously up-dated and published on-line and in hard copy CCDKM also enables telecentres in Thailand act as on-line coordinating hubs and centers open sources learning among many other initiatives.Mr. Mohamed who is Ethiopian believes that such growth can be replicated within African Telecentres if there is political goodwill, improved ICT infrastructure, knowledge development as well as availability of other services like roads, water and reliable electricity to rural areas.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) workshop that was hosted by the Kenya Network of Telecentres (KENTEL) in Nairobi, Kenya, Mr. Mohammed believes that BPO can provide a stable source of revenue for thousands of telecentre staff as the BPO market is vibrant and brimming with opportunity and could help address the issue of sustainability which has been Telecentre’s Achilles heel for a long time now. He gave examples of low-end BPO activities like data conversion, customer contact centres, data entry operations, telemarketing, basic technical support that are being practiced in some Telecentres in Thailand as a third party service provision for large specialized companies which many Telecentres are capable of doing even with their present capacities.
The idea of the telecentres in Thailand was founded on the basis of the Community Learning Centers (CLCs) established between 2001 and 2002. Organizations like the National Electronic and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC) of Thailand, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Community Organization Development Institute (CODI) and the World Bank also came on board by setting up telecentres.
But it is the establishment of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT) in 2007and it’s willingness to support Telecentres that saw the number of Telecentres soar from only 20 telecentres in 2007 to 60 in 2008, over 200 in 2009 and currently stand at over 1000 in 2010 and still growing. One success recipe for Telecentres in Thailand has been the classification of Telecentres into clusters of 5 regions for operational purposes namely North East, North, South, Central and East which enhanced accountability, manage the telecenter for their community’s development and reporting of telecentre monthly performances to MICT for evaluation