Rural and poor areas of many regions of the developing world are often prevented from benefiting fully from the many advantages offered by information and communication technologies (ICTs). In this sense, a community telecentre can be seen a crucial information and communication resource for the whole community, supporting the goal of universal access to the emerging Information Society.
The telecentre team in Timbuctu, Mali
Multi-purpose Community Telecentres (MCTs) are structures that encourage and support communities to manage their own development through access to appropriate facilities, resources, training and services. “Multi-purpose” means that a Telecentre is able to provide different user groups within a community, with a range of services relating to different domains (from education/training to business, from health to local governance), and it does so by offering several technologies. “Community” refers both to local community ownership and community access through the telecentre. MCTs rely on such resources as public and community libraries and local mass media in order to facilitate access to information services and to improve the dialogue between citizens and local/national institutions.
Since 1994, during the World Telecommunication Development Conference, MCTs were considered by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as a major vector for telecommunications addressing integrated rural development. The International Development Research Center (IDRC) established in 1997 the ACACIA programme which has provided support for study and exchange of information on MCTs in Africa. UNESCO has been active in the MCT area since 1996 when it initiated a special effort to help developing countries to benefit from opportunities of telematics and information highways by adapting and exploiting telematics applications for development taking account ethical, social and legal concerns (such as cultural diversity and appropriateness of content).
UNESCO’s first major commitment for MCTs has been support for the establishment of pilot African telecentre projects. Based on the promising results of these projects, UNESCO is supporting MCT experiments in other African countries and in other regions of the developing world such as south-eastern Asia (please refer on this page to MCT pilot project in East Sumatra, Indonesia).
A crucial factor for the successful implementation of a community telecentre project is the involvement and cooperation of a wide range of local organizations, both in setting up the facilities and in contributing to the production of “content” and applications. The private sector can also intervene in the work of the MCT, in several ways, ranging from supply of equipment and services to operational responsibility under franchise, and in general supporting development-oriented community activities.
Madanpokhara CMC extends its network to village schools
19-04-2006 (New Delhi/Kathmandu) - Four new community telecentres were established recently by Madanpokhara community multimedia centre (CMC), in schools belonging to the village development committees (VDCs) of Madanpokhara, Telgha and Rupse in Palpa District of Nepal, in collaboration with UNESCO.
UNESCO launches a sixth community telecentre in Ethiopia
25-08-2005 (Addis Ababa) - On Monday 22 August 2005, a dual ceremony was held at Rimbaud’s House in the historic Ethiopian city of Harar to mark the inauguration of a UNESCO sponsored community telecentre and to present certificates to the first batch of graduates from the telecentre’s basic ICT course.
Telecentre HelpNet AfricaWorkshop Opened in Maputo
18-09-2003 - The establishment of a helpdesk for sharing information and advice on community multimedia telecentres is on the agenda of a workshop that opened on Monday in Maputo, Mozambique. The meeting, with more than 20 participants from Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, is organized by IDRC and the Informatics Centre of the University Eduardo Mondlane, with UNESCO's support.
Ten Steps for Establishing Multipurpose Community Telecentres*
02-04-2003 - "Ten Steps" is the title of a new UNESCO publication to assist communities in establishing sustainable Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCT). The Guide that since yesterday is online available on the website of the UNESCO Bangkok Office is a contribution to providing and strengthening communication and information facilities at the level of local communities.