Tuesday, 06 July 2010 20:23
An update from the Rwanda telecentre Network
Based in a small town in Rwanda, south of the capital Kigali, the owner of the Nyamata telecentre – Paul BARERA – has taken up an ambitious plan; to deploy 1.000 telecentres in Rwanda before the end of 2015. During the months July and August, he is working with Juriaan Deumer from the Netherlands on the foundations of a new organization, the Rwanda telecentre Network (RTN). Through this blog, RTN will provide the global telecentre community with regular updates on the progress. In this edition, we will elaborate on the background of the project and the results of the first collaborative week in Rwanda.
Background: why ICT access for all Rwandans is crucial for the future of the country
In 2000, 6 years after the genocide that took the lives of nearly 1,000,000 Rwandans in just 100 days, the Rwandan government laid down a plan to develop the country. In this plan, called ‘Vision 2020’ the government described why and how it envisioned the transfer of the country from an agricultural based economy to a knowledge-based economy. This transfer would be necessary due to diminishing agricultural productivity and arable land distribution, next to several other economic challenges that Rwanda faces, such as natural barriers to trade due to the land-locked geography and the narrow economic base.
Part of the transfer to a knowledge-based economy, is the goal to unlock rural areas through local ICT access centers, also known as telecentres; a public place where people can access computers to use the internet and other digital technologies that enable them to gather information, create, learn, and communicate with others while they develop essential digital skills.
And so the Rwandan government in 2005 announced a national plan of rolling out telecentres. So far, 12 centers and 2 mobile ICT buses are operational and another 18 centers are to be launched soon. However, since the goal is to have a telecentres in every village the current speed of deployment is too low.
RTN has offered its support in deploying 1.000 telecentres in Rwanda
Given the unsatisfying results so far, the RTN has offered to support the Rwandan government and has set itself a mission to create a network of 1.000 telecentres before the end of 2015. Apart from that, RTN has set the following sub goals:
1. Build the capacity of people who work in telecentres;
2. Boost the employment generation in rural areas and reduce urban migration;
3. Facilitate local content creation, dissemination and sharing in Rwanda;
4. Raise awareness of the role of telecentres in the development of Rwanda;
5. Promote innovative use of ICT4D and develop sustainability mechanism of telecentres.
During the coming two months we will define how this goals can be realized
In July and August, we will define how the ambitious goals of RTN can be realized. That means that we work on:
1. Executing a national baseline study, aimed at defining community needs with respect to telecentres and mapping all existing telecentres, with an expected sample base of 1.500 respondents.
2. Developing the strategic plan for deploying 1.000 Telecentres in Rwanda, including a concrete implementation plan. The strategic plan will describe how 1.000 profitable telecentres can be deployed in Rwanda in a matter of years.
3. Create awareness in Rwanda for telecentres in general and RTN specific, through:
a. A consultative workshop with participants from all stakeholder categories;
b. A short movie, clarifying the concept of telecentres and RTN.
In case time allows, additional activities include:
1. Informing (potential) partnerships of the project;
2. Develop a training for telecentre managers;
3. Develop a ‘telecentre starterkit’, containing the basics for a telecentre to work under the RTN support.
During the past week, the strategic plan has been kick-started
In the first collaborative week, the strategic planning has seen great progress; an exclusive and exhaustive framework has been created (using the intuitive and structured mindmap methodology), containing all aspects of the strategic plan on three levels: telecentre level, RTN level and national level, as well as a draft implementation plan.
From this exercise, it appears that the critical success factor will be the business model of individual telecentres: how can they make sufficient profit to be sustainable? Possible revenue streams have been classified into four categories:
1. Traditional services: internet and telephone usage, faxing, photo-copying, etc.;
2. Non-traditional services: desktop publishing, room hire for meetings, weddings, training, etc.;
3. Partner services: services of private and public partners that are delivered through the distribution channel of 1.000 telecentres and that add value for the community, telecentres, partners and RTN;
4. Subsidies: donors, government.
Based on our experience, we know that it is very difficult for a telecentre to make a profit based only on the traditional services. Therefore, other sources of income are necessary. The non-traditional services however are either very capital-intensive or depend largely on the skills of the telecentre staff. When it comes to subsidies: it is to be investigated whether this is possible and desirable, given the aim for individual telecentre sustainability.
This places enormous pressure on making the partner services work. We will examine how this can be done in the coming weeks when we detail the strategic plan, based on and including the results of the baseline study, firsthand field research, the consultative workshop and a detailed business case for future telecentres.
In case you would like to know more of the RTN project, please contact Paul BARERA(
) or Juriaan Deumer (
Paul and Juriaan.