UNESCO’s first major MCT activity has been support, together with several IGO/NGO partners for the establishment of six pilot telecentres in five Sub-Saharan African countries (Benin, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda).
These projects been carried out within the UN System-wide Special Initiative on Africa and the African Information Society Initiative (AISI). The UNESCO partners have been the British Council, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), DANIDA (Danish Development Agency), through UNESCO Funds in Trust, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), UNDP’s Sustainable Networking Development Programme (SDNP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). All of them have contributed in different extents to the five MCT pilot projects.
The cooperation between UNESCO and the other international sponsors and local/national partners builds on the fusion of the respective organizational mandates and cultures. This joint action has thus led to an innovative model for international social and economic development cooperation. Within the international partnerships, UNESCO/DANIDA has especially emphasised support to the public library and community learning centre system, making full use of existing libraries and information infrastructure. The idea has been that solid and polyvalent information services, providing access to both community and world-wide information resources, represent a strategic tool of campaigns supporting literacy, basic formal and non-formal education, and grassroots community activities in national-local consortia to foster sustainable development.