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Dakar Symposium (2003)
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What is the programme for Community Multimedia Centres?

  • The Community Multimedia Centre (CMC) combines local radio by local people in local languages with a public telecentre facility offering public access to information and communication technology (ICT) applications in a wide range of social, economic and cultural areas.

  • At its most basic, the centre offers the simplest portable radio station, plus a single computer for Internet browsing wherever possible, e-mail and basic office, library and learning applications. At its most developed, the centre is a major infrastructure, offering a full range of multimedia facilities, functioning as a distance learning, training and informal education centre, linking up to the local hospital for telemedicine applications, down-loading and printing national newspapers for local circulation and so forth.

  • However, in all cases, the community multimedia centre presupposes that ICTs will be oriented towards collective community use, while also being available for individual access. In addition, in the interest of sustainability and range of services, a community multimedia centre may offer a combination of public and privately-run facilities, with services such as telephone, fax and e-mail possibly offered on a commercial basis alongside not-for-profit access to other facilities.

  • The creation of the infrastructure is only a first step. The key to the success of these centres is their ability to collect, produce, exchange and disseminate relevant contents for the development needs of individuals, to offer new learning opportunities, to target groups such as women and young people and the community as a whole.

  • In countries where broadcasting laws do not yet permit community radio to go on air, initiatives such as Internet radio and cassette radio can provide an alternative. Another possibility is for the local radio stations of the national broadcasting corporation to air programmes produced by the CMC. In villages without electricity or telephones, where Internet cannot be accessed, solar energy and satellite link-up can enable the delivery of multimedia data and data exchange via e-mail. Indeed, given the importance of long-term economic sustainability, solar or other forms of renewable energy are used whenever possible, to reduce recurrent costs.
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