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Exploring telecentres as development initiatives
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
2007 (English)Licentiate thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Telecentres are formal moves to enhance access to Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) where individual access is unavailable or unaffordable. Since the 1990s an emphasis on reaching people in Africa, Asia and Latin America through the spread of telecentres can be ascertained. Telecentre initiatives are commonly motivated to improve people’s lives in poor or marginalised areas, weighing on assumptions that they can be tools for development. Though development motives are frequently underpinning telecentre initiatives the research of how telecentres respond to development issues in reality is yet insufficient. Numerous telecentre initiatives are based on technology-focused agendas and questions of appropriateness are commonly underplayed. And as many telecentres struggle with viability this is consequently bringing a need to learn from shared experiences of telecentres in their local contexts, of what works and works not. The aim with this thesis is to explore telecentres, as development initiatives, and to identify problems encountered in their local practice towards providing meaningful access to ICTs. For this purpose three case studies of telecentres in Malaysia and Mozambique have been performed, with objectives to evaluate telecentre performance and benefits, and to investigate sustainability indicators in three different telecentre models. Additionally development motives underpinning telecentres and Information Communication Technology for development (ICT4D) initiatives are reviewed. The results indicated on problems with digital inclusion, poor local involvement, lack of meaningful and relevant services, and insufficient human resources and skills for operation. These scarcities are essential to improve upon if the full potential of the telecentres were to be realised, but also for the telecentres to become valuable and sustainable tools for the communities they aimed to serve. The findings also implied that the main benefits of the telecentres were increased access to ICTs, enhanced awareness of the utility and use of ICTs, and increased opportunities for communication, entertainment, information retrieval, learning and recreation. To learn from telecentre practice is important in order to elucidate how telecentres can possibly address development concerns. The findings indicated that the benefits from the telecentres were foremost of the advance of individuals, which implicated on several development assumptions underpinning telecentre initiatives. Based on facts of users aspirations and of achieved benefits a less visionary agenda for these telecentres is proposed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-12118OAI: diva2:178638
Available from: 2009-02-27 Created: 2008-01-15Bibliographically approved

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