Telecentre practitioners and network leaders gathered here in Lusaka June 17 – 19 to share experiences and develop strategies for sustainable telecentres in Africa. Perhaps the hallmark of the event was the participation of CTA, Info-bridge and IICD with an open invitation to telecentre community for partnership.
The event was momentous. Take CTA (www.cta.int) for instance which has been one of the leading players in dissemination of agricultural information resources across the APC region to improve rural livehoods. In fact, CTA is unrivalled in this area. At the workshop, Koda and Oumy Ndiaye from CTA head office in Netherlands walked us through various opportunities that telecentre community can use like program development training for community radio operators, Q & A services on agricultural issues, Databases on CD ROMS, publications and information portals. I have to say, I was hugely excited about the possibility of linking up with CTA to channel that energy into the telecentre community. Did I say CTA was the main convenor? Yes I should have.
The event also gave telecentre.org flagship networks from Mozambique, Uganda and Mali. They shared how the networks emerged and how they are helping the telecentres to work more effectively. Aminata from Mali talked about the community empowerment experiences while Sulah from Uganda discussed how they have supported emerging networks in the East African region. Polly from Mozambique revisited the history and value of telecentre networks. She also discussed the process and challenges of establishing a national telecentre.
I suggest you look at the importance of the flagship network presentations in the following light – Southern Africa for all its telecentre activities has yet to form a strong forum for knowledge exchange forum. There was such a big interest to push the nascent Southern African Telecentre Network (SATNET). While SATNET is a very welcome initiative, you have to think there is real work here to do to get it off. Polly said that a regional network can only thrive if it has strong national level networking activities. This message will need to be kept in mind of all involved in SATNET.
I enjoyed the opportunity for one-on-one meeting with participants. I thought, looking through the various small meetings – breaking.., then another and …breaking up thereafter before getting another – that the rest of the participants enjoyed as much. It was also an opportunity to share telecentre.org vision and programs in building the capacity of telecentre practitioners around the world. In the end, the telecentre community got new energy to use.