December 2007

tracking telecenter transformation

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Welcome to the first issue of 'telecentre magazine'! To tell you what prompted us to start this magazine on telecentres is the fact that in all our previous conferences on telecentres there are more questions raised than answered. People who are directly or indirectly related to the telecentre community have so many issues that are unresolved. As the telecentre networks connect up, learn and share, the momentum and ripple effects that these initiatives are making, is an exciting development. However, there is not sufficient research and analysis of the processes and impacts, challenges faced and overcome, innovations made and lessons learnt.

Built on CSDMS and telecentre.org's deep commitment to collaboration, the 'telecentre magazine' will act as an interface between telecentre leaders, technology solution providers, knowledge repositories, and decision makers. The magazine will raise awareness about telecentres, serving a platform for research, analysis, advocacy and the development of a stronger telecentre ecosystem. It will also act as a repository of knowledge with various success stories, failures and lessons learned from the field. Ultimately, this will help in sustainability and upscaling of telecentres around the globe.

Richard Fuchs, who has been involved with the telecentre movement for over 20 years, has aptly contextualised the experience, to share his vision for the coming two decades. 'Clearly what does a mature ethos of telecentre 2.0 indicate for those developing countries and regions that are organising and networking? This is what I have reflected on by focussing on networks.'

With the emergence of Telecentre 2.0, the importance of networks of telecentres at the national and international level has increased. In November 2005, at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Microsoft Corporation, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), announced the launch of telecentre.org, a CA$21 million collaborative initiative that will strengthen the capacity of tens of thousands of community-based telecentres around the world. This partnership was forged due to the vision of Microsoft.

The vast majority of telecentres of all kinds are in fact not sustainable in the long term without long-term outside funding. A solution for telecentre sustainability emerges when one looks beyond financial sustainability alone and widens the aspects of sustainability, e.g., political, cultural, and technical sustainability as elements of equal value. We have brought together lessons and experiences from Africa, Asia, Latin America, to bring an international perspective on the issues of telecentres as a transformation tool.

The features and articles drawn from eminent international authors makes this a truly enriching issue, which we hope, satisfies the expectations of various stakeholders in the telecentre movement.

The telecentre magazine aims to stir in discussions and debate, but also focus on research and analysis. We look forward to your constant support and encouragement to make it as a platform to share the various unresolved issues.

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