Access to and effective application of ICT is a basic prerequisite for community development. Tanzania like many other developing nations, have limited access to ICT in rural areas compared to urban areas. The concept of rural telecentre has emerged as an important strategy to fill in the gap in the digital divide in the rural areas of developing countries. Telecenter is a public facility that offers shared access to Information Communication Technology Applications.
Information is the most important aspect in daily life and interactions of human beings. People rely on information in order to arrive in their decisions, and to plan their life. Without information, and right information, it will be difficult to make right decisions at the right time. Therefore, individuals, groups, associations, organizations, government institutions, political parties and others strive to get right information in order to make right decisions and plan for a better future.
Telecentres have stimulated development in countries with well-developed centres that have given the community accesses to credible information on key sectors like agriculture, health, education, social welfare, rural energy and e-governance.
The primary aim of telecentres is to serve the rural people who are not able to access the information as compared to urban dwellers
A Telecentre is a public place where people can access computers, the internet, and other digital technologies that enable them to gather information, create, learn, and communicate with others while they develop essential digital skills. While each Telecentre is different, their common focus is on the use of digital technologies to support community, economic, educational, and social development—reducing isolation, bridging the digital divide, promoting health issues, creating economic opportunities, and reaching out to rural community. The concept of Telecentre has emerged as an important strategy to fill up the gap in the digital divide in the rural areas of developing countries.
To help the rural community to access computers, the internet and other digital technologies that enable them to gather information, create, learn and communicate with other while they develop essential digital skills.
The programme aims at providing the following services to the rural community
- Access to telephones and faxes
- Access to the Internet and e-mail
- Access to educational materials and other information services
- Access to secretarial services like typing photocopy, scanning, etc.
- Other developmental support services to meet basic needs.
National Economic Empowerment Council and Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology are currently preparing the Memorandum Of Understanding on how to collaborate in this programme (empowerment through telecentres). However, other stakeholders who are willing to join this programme are also welcomed. The following are the proposed main areas of collaborations:
- guideline on how to start, run and manage telecentres
- Planning and setting up of telecentres in regional and districts centres
- Participation of private sectors in the promotion of telecentres
- Engagement of service providers and operators in reaching remote areas with affordable connection costs to support telecentres operations.
- Computer training through telecentres.
- Creation of awareness of established telecentres
- Monitoring and evaluating the impact of the telecentres
These areas of collaborations are subject to change since it’s still on draft agreement before signing a memorandum of understanding on areas of cooperation/collaboration (roles and responsibilities) between NEEC and MSCT. Furthermore, this programme is anticipated to put in place the plans establishing and supporting telecentres.