My name is Sandra Roberts, I work with a project designed to support ICT initiatives in the SADC (Southern African Development community) region. We are represented currently in 12 of the 13 countries in SADC and have nodal points in Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa.
Recently we conducted research on telecentres in SADC. Here are my answers to the questions. KEY QUESTIONS: > 1. Are high-bandwidth connections necessary, or even important, to > making a real impact on development? Or are the costs and problems > inherent in establishing such connectivity too high -- and unsustainable > -- for underserved areas? Connectivity costs in Africa are too high, whether it is in urban or underserved rural areas. High bandwidth connections largely a dream in many areas. Also importantly there is not enough support for individual telecentres who are often in very isolated areas. > 2. Are there cases that demonstrate the value of low-bandwidth (e.g., > store-and-forward email, packet radio) solutions to provide critical > information access to under-served communities? How successful have they > been? > 3. Can information distribution centers (e.g., public access > telecenters) offer a viable economic solution to a community's > information needs, by, in effect, sharing a single high-bandwidth > connection among many users, and thus spreading the cost? Telecentres and community multimedia centres have not fared very well in Africa, this is due, in part to exorbitant connection costs, but also because they need dynamic leadership. Management and technological skills, yes, but leadership which is adaptive to the various conditions which a telecentre/ CMC will face during its lifespan. Unfortunately practical barriers include high staff turn over - people with the skills to run telecentres could get relatively high paying jobs elsewhere, and have more security than telecentres can offer. The practical reality is that many telecentres are donor dependent and have no plans to become self sustaining, or possibly have plans and haven't implemented them. So, yes, they can, but practically they often don't. > 4. Are there new protocols that make more efficient use of the bandwidth > that is available? For example, what role can the newer wireless > technologies (e.g. Wi-Fi, MESH networks) play in bringing sufficient > connectivity to underserved communities? Are the costs and maintenance > demands of these technologies sustainable? New technologies require new skills sets and new support mechanisms. They should be adopted, but possibly not immediately as soon as the technologies are available. I think universities should be key in experimenting with new technologies and slowly developing plans for incorporation into their countries. Please look at our site, it will be launched on the 17 November 2003. www.cinsa.info Sandra Roberts Research and Information Coordinator CINSA Project SANGONeT Tel: 27 11 838 6943/4 Fax: 27 11 492 1058 Email: [EMAIL PROTECTED] Website: www.cinsa.info; www.sangonet.org.za ------------ This DOT-COM Discussion is funded by the dot-ORG USAID Cooperative Agreement, and hosted by GKD. http://www.dot-com-alliance.org provides more information. To post a message, send it to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>. In the 1st line of the message type: subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd For the GKD database, with past messages: http://www.GKDknowledge.org