Highlights from the 5th edition of East Africa TLF

Looking back at the end of TLF, feel satisfied with the time, energy and commitment everyone shared. I suspect participants will say it was a successful event in a number of ways. This is why:

- Participants made a firm decision to start a telecentre academy (for East Africa region based in Uganda and national one for Sudan)the decision was indeed about how to implement and who does what…as the necessity had been overstated a couple years ago. As one participant put it, telecentre academy should have started yesterday. No one doubted either.

- Networks went away with concrete opportunities for supporting staff exchange, knowledge sharing and strengthening operations at national level.

- We shared experiences with practitioners from Brazil, India, Mozambique, Syria, Zambia and Egypt. Take for instance concrete collaborative activities that were agreed (as follow-up) one-on-one between Mozambique and Brazil, East Africa and Zambia (read SATNET) and Syria, Egypt and Sudan.

- Sudan accepted to share experiences in developing an East Africa telecentre academy. There is way too much experience in Sudan on this matter...not necessarily in telecentre skills training but methodology and structure for managing online, distributed learning. That’s very valuable. The Sudan telecentre Academy (SUDACA) that we visited has been in operation for over 40yrs. One particular idea to learn from quickly is how to implement courses with controlled access that requires a password to access.

- For the first time in the history of East African Telecentre Leaders’ Forum, the event had substantial private sector and government financing. How that kind of support was attracted is a key lesson not only for future EATLF but the entire telecentre.org community.

- The event also helped Zambia’s telecentre workshop planning process. That workshop will take place in Lusaka and shall include the launch of South Africa Telecentre Network (SATNET). Dean Mulozi who is at the centre of the planning in Lusaka came out to connect with counterparts.

The next time you meet Dr. Ahmed Eisa, would please do thank him for me. He was everything we needed in Sudan and more. As a host, he way exceeded our expectation, as a participant he share insights and helped to create the vision and managed play the “fine thread” role that connected the telecentre community to various opportunities in Sudan. He secured visa, accommodation, meals and run around through the event to ensure everyone was happy. He did not sleep at all on the day participants left Sudan. Following confusion as flight suspicions after the plane crash, the airport was stretched... Participants stayed out there almost through the night, to beat the long cues before catching flights in the morning. Guess what, Ahmed was there as well. Many thanks too, to all the people of Sudan for their generosity and kindness. Earlier, I mentioned the record breaking private sector and public sector support for the forum; yes… he was responsible for all that. The telecentre community has a true ambassador in Dr. Ahmed Eisa. We need more and more Dr. Ahmed around the world.You can be an ambassodor too!

Overall, the event organisers were ever conscious of the need to make firm decisions – going beyond relationship building and discussions. You see, at this stage, the telecentre community needs more action than talk to progress.

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