Communication for development Knowledge

Posted July 1999

Special: The first mile of connectivity

Empowering communities in the information society: an international perspective

By Johan Ernberg
International Telecommunications Union
Geneva, Switzerland

1. Introduction

  • Why the first mile?
  • Telecommunication services and stakeholders
    2. Lessons learned
  • Communication for sustainable development
  • Eyes see; ears hear
  • Participatory rural communications appraisal
  • Radio and video
  • State media for democratic development
    3. Technologies
  • Telecommunications for sustainable development
  • Rural telecommunications in Africa
  • Integrated rural development through telecommunications
    4. Applications
  • Internet and rural development
  • Participatory approaches to rural connectivity
  • Empowering communities
  • Rural telecentres
  • Training community animators
  • Video conferencing
  • Connecting with the unconnected
    5. Policies
  • Global information infrastructure
  • Rural networking cooperatives
  • Public and private interests
    Editors, contributors
  • This paper is based on the assumption that production, processing and dissemination of information and knowledge will play a vital role in social, economic and cultural development of rural and deprived urban communities, but admits that this still needs to demonstrated in practice. It concludes that the only way to find out what people and governments really need is to give them the choice. The challenge is - how to bring the ever increasing wealth of information and knowledge, and the tools to produce their own information and express their own opinions, within reach of those billions of people in the world who still don't have access to these resources and tools. The paper deals briefly with the policy issues involved, but focuses on strategies for providing access to such resources and tools by means of Multipurpose Community Telecentres and discuss particularly the feasibility and objectives of the ITU global programme for integrated rural development pilot projects as a test bed for such strategies.

    Some policy issues

    There are many intellectuals and policy makers, most of whom have access to modern information and communication technology, who question whether people, particularly ordinary, mostly poor people in developing countries, really need these technologies and warn us about its potential harmful effects. Many of them feel that drilling wells for clean water, building roads, provision of primary health care and schools for teaching people to read and write are much more important for improving poor peoples health and living conditions in general than providing them with computers and access to data networks. The information available through networks, they argue, is chiefly produced in the west and for the west and computer mediated discussion groups spread western values and culture and threaten the survival of local culture.

    Moreover, opponents to free access to information note that cyberspace is full of "garbage" and "pollutes" innocent people and children with western perversions. Some people feel that potentially dangerous extremist groups and subversive terrorists can use the networks to spread their distorted messages and influence the ignorant masses. And then, there are the problems of data security and copyright.

    Roads are of course important but, say those who believe in the potential benefits of the "information society" for poor people in the developing world, so are telecommunications. Access to telephones and faxes, they argue, reduces the need for people to travel and their feeling of being isolated and improves the efficiency of transport of goods. Thus, these telecommunications tools reduce transportation costs, improve availability of essential goods and contribute to improving living conditions and to reducing pollution. They may also contribute to saving lives in case of man-made or natural disasters and reduce the harmful consequences of such disasters.

    In difficult terrain it may take years to build roads and still many rural communities can only be reached by foot and horses and donkeys are the principal means of transport. In contrast, modern terrestrial and satellite radio-communication systems can be provided in a relatively short time, also in very remote and isolated areas and reduce drastically the need for cumbersome travelling.

    Nobody questions the vital importance of schools and primary health care centres in rural and isolated communities. However, it is difficult to attract qualified teachers and doctors to work in such areas when there are no means of keeping in touch with colleagues and friends and with developments in their fields (except, possibly, by means of postal services which can take a long time to deliver a message or a book).

    The promoters of the information society claim that the quality of public services, including health, education and security could be immensely improved by means of modern information and telecommunication technologies. Access to the rapidly increasing, electronically stored information and knowledge resources in the field of health and education, including courses in basic hygiene, literacy, water management and environment protection as well as in occupational fields of relevance to rural communities such as agriculture, animal husbandry, handicrafts, business administration, etc., and the possibility to call the specialist doctor when needed, are as important for the well being of the people as drilling wells and providing primary health centres. Access to such facilities would also contribute to retaining qualified professionals and attract more of them to work in rural and remote areas, i.e. reduce the migration to urban centres or even reverse this trend.

    Those in favour also argue that access to information and communication technologies is vital for economic development and for any enterprise to compete in today's global economy, and that generation of economic wealth and a more equal distribution of this wealth, within countries and globally, is a condition sine qua non for the poor to improve their living conditions, and thus also for social and cultural development.

    As regards the "cyberspace garbage", they would claim that the advantages of being able to timely access relevant information and "knowledge networks" and having the possibility and right to freely communicate ones own opinions and values to the rest of the world, by far outweighs the potential dangers of providing access to this global forum. Some people even consider the right to communicate as a fundamental condition for the development of democracy and for global peaceful coexistence.

    However, the purpose of this paper is not to tell what other people need or don't need. Give them the choice and let them tell us themselves! No, the reason to mention this heatedly debated controversy is that the policy issues cannot be ignored in any attempt to address the development of information and communication technologies from an international perspective.

    Clearly, the development of the infrastructure and of people's awareness of the possibilities offered by modern information and communication technologies and their capabilities to make use of such technologies (all of which is required to give them a real choice) will not happen unless their is a political will and the right policies are in place.

    Consequently, the ITU has been requested by its members to assist in the development of information and communication policies, within the framework of the Buenos Aires Action Plan (BAAP) adopted by the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC/94, Buenos Aires 1994).

    For example, within the BAAP Programme No 12 - Development of Telematics and Computer Networks - the ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), together with ECA, UNESCO and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC, Canada), has supported and participated actively in the development of the Africa's Information and Communication Initiative, which has recently been adopted by the ECA Council of Ministers Meeting (Addis Ababa, 30 April - 3 May, 1996) and endorsed by the African Regional Telecommunication Development Conference (AF-RTDC/96, Abidjan, 6-10 May, 1996).

    The ITU's main concern and mandate is the harmonious development of the global telecommunication infrastructure. However, adequate policies and strategies are required for such development to take place. Developing and developed countries alike are currently in the process of reforming the telecommunication sector drastically. Such reforms involves:

    In many countries the positive effects of such reforms are already discernible. Usually it has spurred the development of telecommunications and, in particular, the introduction of enhanced telecommunication and information services in urban areas.

    The objective of the BAAP Programme No. 1 - Policies, Strategies and Financing, is to assist developing countries in this work. Within this programme, advice on these issues is provided to members on request and regional telecommunication policy and strategy guidelines have been developed (The African "Green Paper", now adopted at the AF-RTDC, the Americas "Blue Book" and telecommunication Policies for the Arab States). A colloquium on financing of telecommunications, organised by BDT in Abidjan, also produced a number of recommendations relevant to this issue.

    Access to networks

    To adopt the adequate policies is a necessary but not sufficient conditions for bringing people into the information society. Timely access to information and knowledge requires also an adequate, widespread telecommunication infrastructure and in this respect the global picture is still rather gloomy. This is illustrated, for example, by the fact that, in 1994, the average "teledensity" (main lines per 100 inhabitants) in 59 low-income countries of the world was 1.5 as compared to 52 for the 41 highest income countries.

    Moreover, the telecommunication infrastructure in developing countries is concentrated to the larger cities and in many countries virtually non-existent in rural and remote areas. As regards access to information and data networks, notably the Internet, the discrepancies between the rich and the poor and between urban and rural areas are even more accentuated. It is estimated that more than half of the world's population have never used a telephone. The gap between those who have access to these vital resources and those who have not is widening also in many rich countries. Even in advanced countries there are large pockets of socially or geographically isolated population strata, which either don't have access to adequate telecommunications, can't afford modern information and communication facilities, or just lack the required skills to use them.

    Multipurpose community telecentres

    The concept of "multipurpose community telecentres", a shared information and communication facility for people in rural and isolated areas was initially introduced in the Scandinavian countries some 20 years ago as means of improving access to telematics in rural and isolated areas. A community telecentre is here defined as a multipurpose centre, providing IT and telecommunication facilities, user support and training for members of a (usually remote and isolated) community who cannot afford such facilities on an individual basis and/or do not have the skills to use such tools.

    This concept spread rapidly to some other European countries with isolated areas, such as the UK and Ireland and Telecentres are now also common in remote areas of Australia, Canada and the USA. Brazil has implemented a significant number of such centres and plans to establish several hundreds of them in the next few years (3 000 by the year 2004). So far, most of the Brazilian telecentres are located in (rural) townships with 50 000 to 100 000 inhabitants and low teledensity (5 to 10 percent), but they are now in the process of introducing such centres to also to very remote and isolated areas. Now, a number of national associations and at least one international organization have been established with the objective to promote the development of community telecentres and community networking.

    The set up and applications supported by such centres vary considerably. In its simplest form, widely introduced in developing countries, such centres may provide public telephone, and fax services only and be handled by the local shopkeeper, for example. However, such "telecentres", often called "telekiosks" are usually established in densely populated areas and hardly qualify as "multipurpose" centres.

    At the other end of the scale there are telecentres with (shared) offices for local small business and "teleworkers" and equipped with computers, printer, photocopier, etc. Such centres would provide access to data networks (e.g., the Internet) for e-mail, file transfer, access to electronic libraries and databases, government and community information systems, market and price information, environmental watch, etc. as well as facilities and equipment for teletraining and telemedicine. Some may also provide facilities, equipment and training for local production (and reception) of radio and TV broadcasting programmes. Such facilities are currently planned for two Telecentres in a pilot project in the interior of Suriname, for example, in order to promote local culture.

    Such multipurpose centres of course also need specialised support staff for the different applications, in particular facilitators for distance learning programmes, and including staff for the management and operation of the service and for maintenance of the equipment.

    The viability of such centres vary. Most of them were initially established with substantial government support, which was gradually withdrawn. Some centres were then forced to close, particularly in affluent societies, where the telecommunication infrastructure is quite good, but also in rural areas. People tend to acquire the necessary IT and communication equipment once they have seen the value of these tools. In these cases the community telecentres have played an impo-tant role in the marketing of new services, which is not always recog-nised by the service providers and operators who benefit from this.

    However, many have proven to be sustainable. All of the Brazilian telecentres, which are often located in buildings that also include postal, banking and other public services, are entirely self-supporting, in spite of (or due to?) relatively low tariffs. The telecentre in Toledo (Parana, Brazil), for example, has had on the average some 9 000 visits per month over the last two years, increasing to 13 775 in November 1995. Very recent feasibility studies carried out by the ITU/BDT for pilot projects in Suriname and Vietnam indicate a surprisingly high return on investment. However, these conclusions are based on very uncertain forecast of usage in the absence of any historical data.

    There are many similar centres, e.g., business centres in hotels, distance learning centres (usually in schools and quite common in Australia, for example), telemedicine centres (in hospitals and health care centres), library information centres (located in libraries), and, more recently, "Internet cafes". However, in contrast to the community telecentres, these are essential single purpose centres (possibly with the exception of the Internet cafes) and tend to be located in densely populated areas. One solution in remote areas may be to establish a "virtual telecentre" where different applications are located in different buildings, but using a common telecom infrastructure and common support.

    It is important to recognise that the large majority of the 70 to 80 percent of the population in developing countries who live in rural and remote communities have little if any money to spend on such "luxuries" as information and communications. Yet some of us believe that they need information and communication facilities as much if not more than densely populated urban communities (which have much easier access to information and public services). Access to public telephones and a fax would already be a significant improvement of their living conditions, but the provision of modern information and communication technologies holds the promise of promoting social, economic and cultural development at quite a different scale. Paradoxically, there may be cases when the provision of such services are more cost-effective (if the impact on social, economic and cultural development is duly considered) than the provision of basic services only.

    Multipurpose community telecentres seems to offer the means to make such services widely accessible to populations in remote and isolated areas, where it is hardly conceivable to provide separate facilities and support for each application and where there is the need to maximise the number of users (commercial and users of public services) to make optimum use of the common, expensive telecommunication infrastructure. Deprived urban slum areas are not geographically, but socially isolated and have many characteristics in common with rural remote areas. Therefore, in such cases community telecentres may be an appropriate solution.

    However, if such centres are to have any significant effect on social, economic and cultural development they must be introduced as an integral part of a concerted effort of community development effort involving all stakeholders, including local authorities and user groups, international and national organizations, governmental as well as non-governmental organizations and the private sector concerned with community development and the development of new markets.

    Pilot projects

    There is very little experience of the impact of such centres in the context of rural and remote areas in developing countries and there are many questions that needs to be answered before one embarks on such ambitious and costly programmes at the national level.

    Some of these questions are:

    Aware of the need to develop the rural areas and the need to get answers to such questions, the members of the ITU adopted at the WTDC-94 the BAAP Programme 9 - Integrated Rural Development - which aims at establishing, in partnership with the private sector, a number of pilot project in different developing regions and different geographical and cultural context that could provide answers to these questions.

    These pilot project would also serve as a test bed for new applications such as teletraining and telemedicine in the context of developing countries and provide opportunities for developing and testing distance learning material designed for poorly educated and illiterate people. Design of such learning material and adaptation of existing information to local languages and culture would, incidentally, create a number of jobs in developing countries.

    A number of proposals for such pilot projects have been received in response to a "call for proposal for pilot projects" (see These multipurpose community telecentre projects provide also an ideal framework for piloting cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and inter-agency cooperation. Some of those that are currently considered are described in Annex I, and anyone who is interested in joining as a partner in these projects are welcome to contact the ITU.

    Private sector members of the ITU/BDT and the Spacecom project sponsored by representatives of the satellite communication industry have indicated their keen interest in participating in these projects. Furthermore, the new ITU "Initiative 2000" has allocated some resources for such pilot project over and above those provided under the BAAP Programme No. 9. Other initiatives such as InfoDev, the AIF and the System-wide Special initiative for Africa are aiming at similar objectives. Clearly, therefore, there is an opportunity to implement such projects in the near future if other agencies, including concerned UN organizations, bilateral development agencies and NGOs, are willing to contribute with support in their specific field of activity and to coordinate their activities aimed at rural community development with the implementation of such projects.

    Other complementary programmes of the BAAP aim at assisting developing countries in the development of human resources, in planning of networks, including broadcasting networks, in frequency management, in development of business plans, in improvement of maintenance and development of management information systems. It is beyond the scope of this paper to describe these programmes, but those who are interested are referred to the above mentioned ITU web site or Gopher (

    Annex I - summary of BAAP programme no. 9/Spacecom pilot project proposals

    The pilot projects, summarized below, include the establishment of multipurpose community telecentres, usually suggesting applications in tele-education (including access to electronic libraries), telemedicine, trade and business support, by means of telephones, fax access to data networks, e-mail, Internet, etc.

    All of them propose partnership between national/local partners, international organizations and the private sector, and in some cases national partners are identified. Project cost estimates include equipment, engineering and project management costs but do not usually include cost of "content" and software development, nor the cost of training for specific applications.

    Thus, there is a need for assistance from other concerned UN agencies and NGOs, who could contribute, for example, with training of nationals and assistance in development of "content" and adaptation of existing material and applications and with specialized equipment (e.g., for telemedicine and multimedia for distance education). More information is available at the ITU/BDT on request.


    Implementation of five pilot community telecentres in Cotonou, Kraké, Malanville, Parakou and Djougou. Proposal for technical solution and cost estimate remains to be done. This proposal was presented by the International Association of Community Teleservice Centres (CTSC International) on behalf of the Office of P&T, Benin.


    Implementation of a pilot community telecentre in Jakar, the capital of Bumthang district in central Bhutan, where the necessary telecom infrastructure (digital microwave) is already available. Jakar is really a village with some 2 000 inhabitants, but is the location of a number of development projects (NGOs who need datacommunication and e-mail facilities) and small enterprises (forestry, sawmills, tourist guesthouses, fruits, beekeeping, agriculture, shops, etc.), a hospital and a number of schools). A preliminary feasibility study was carried out by the ITU in May 1996 and a decision to provide start-up funding (some US$30 000 to 40 000) for the basic equipment for a planned multipurpose community telecentre (computers, faxes, modems, telephones, printer photocopier and VTR) and for a national project coordinator. This proposal was presented by the Royal Government of Bhutan and preparatory work has started.


    Provision of basic telecommunications and informatics services in the Eastern Province of the country through the introduction of three pilot community telecentres in Garoua Boulai, (some 12500 inhabitants), Betare Oya and Bertoua (with public call telephone facilities in Belabo and Diang). The telecentre in Garoua Boulai will be provided with terminal equipment (telephones, fax, computers, modems, printer, etc.) and equipped with a VSAT for advanced telematics applications as well as with a local digital exchange or RSU and initially connected to some 60 individual subscribers by wireless local access network (radio cellular or "multiaccess radio systems" - MARS). The existing MW link will be upgraded or replaced. The hub would be in Yaounde (if possible integrated with the existing earth station) Estimated project cost (excluding the new digital exchange and the hub satellite terminal equipment): US$350 000 to 500 000. This proposal was presented by CETCAM, Ministry of P&T.

    Central African Republic

    This pilot project aims at development of telecommunications, including 14 basic Community Telecentres (public phone and fax offices) in rural areas surrounding Bangui (Bossongo-Gbango) and Bambari (Ngakobo-Bokolobo), with a total of some 300 main lines subscribers, based on multiaccess radio systems. The total area is about 100 sq. km with about 15 000 inhabitants.

    Bambari is a centre of economic activities and has an earth station connecting to the domestic satellite system. ITU consultants have prepared a network plan and equipment specifications for tenders and made a financial analysis of the project. The estimated total cost of the project, including engineering and supervision, buildings, towers, equipment, installation, etc. is some US$1.4 million.

    Internal rate of return (IRR) is estimated at 5.8 percent (negative), if only the revenues from telecom services are taken into account. On the other hand, based on studies made in other countries of benefits of rural telecommunications, IRR is estimated to 82.6 percent if all the indirect benefits are considered (savings in travel cost and time, improved productivity, creation of new business, improved health care and education, etc.).


    Provision of basic telecommunications and informatics services in Region 9 (Rupununi) through the introduction of four pilot multipurpose community telecentres in the main rural centres: Lethem (with public call telephone facilities in Powisanau, Awaruuwanuna and Karauolauwa), Annai (with public call telephone facilities in Karanambo, Yufukarri and Kwaimatta), Sand Creek (with public call telephone facilities in Dadanawa and Wichabai).

    Provision of basic telecommunications and informatics services in Region 8 (Potaru) through the introduction of one pilot community telecentre in Mahadia (with public call telephone facilities in Tumatumari, Potaro Landing and Kona Waruk).

    The cost of the pilot project in the Region 9 (Rupununi) only (with about 2 000 inhabitants) is estimated to US$220 000 to 280 000, excluding the cost of hub satellite terminal equipment. In addition to engineering and project management costs and cost of buildings, etc., this estimate includes a VSAT earth station for basic telephony and data applications (including tele-health and distant learning), Radio cellular system covering in the initial stage some 15 individual subscribers and four to seven public-pay telephones, remote subscriber unit or line concentrator (~ 20 L), point-to-point MW radio tails (where needed) and terminal equipment (telephones, faxes, modems, computers, printers, etc.). These proposals were presented by Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company.


    Provision of basic telecommunications and informatics services in Msanbweni region through the introduction of one pilot community telecentre in Shimoni, with terminal equipment (telephones fax modems, computer, printer, etc.). This would be connected to the national/international network through a small/medium capacity satellite earth station (Inmarsat B or Intelsat DAMA) with associated wireless access system (cellular radio or MARS) for, initially, some 60 to 80 individual subscribers and two to five payphones (10 to 20 individual subscribers and two payphones in Vasini island). A new digital exchange and a MW link tail is also needed. Estimated project cost US$500 000 to 650 000. This proposal was presented by Kenya P&T on the basis of a study carried out by ITU/BDT within the TELERUR project in 1994.


    Provision of basic telecommunications and informatics services in various provinces (such as Ulaangom, Rurun, Zuunkharaa, and Tosontsengel) through the introduction of Pilot Community Telecentres with associated wireless access systems.

    The cost of a pilot project in Ulaangom (about 300 km2 and about 28 000 inhabitants, main occupation: agriculture, livestock and trade), including radio wireless access to connect initially 300 to 400 new subscribers (some mobile users) and terminal equipment (telephones, faxes, computers, modems, printers, etc.) is estimated to US$600 000 to 750 000.

    National partners are expected to contribute with the VSAT earth station (to provide interconnection with the national and international network), a new digital local exchange: ~ 2 000 L (to upgrade existing facilities) and the hub satellite equipment (to be integrated in the existing earth station). This proposal was presented by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.


    Provision of basic telecommunications and informatics services in Galkayo (Mudug) Province through the introduction of a pilot community telecentre, with terminal equipment as above. This would be connected to the national/international network through a small/medium capacity satellite earth station (Arabsat or Intelsat DAMA) with associated wireless access system (cellular radio or MARS) for initially some 10 to 30 individual subscribers and five payphones. A local exchange is also needed. Estimated project cost US$350 000 to 430 000. This proposal was presented by Somalia Trading Company on behalf of the regional authorities.

    South Africa

    Provision of basic telecommunications and informatics services in Transkei region through the introduction of a pilot community telecentre in Port St. Johns, designed to support multipurpose applications with a large training component covering a wide range of skills training. Estimated project cost (initial phase): US$225 000 to 300 000. This proposal was submitted by M. Jensen, consultant, South Africa (a member of the High Level Working Group, which developed Africa's Information Society Initiative).


    Provision of basic telecommunications and informatics services in Brownsberg region (Phase 1) through the extension of the existing radio cellular system and the introduction of four pilot community telecentres in the main rural centres: Brownsberg, Gujaba, Masia Kiiki and Tabrik.

    Provision of basic telecommunications and informatics services in other regions of the country (Phase 2 - Apoera, Adjuma, and Lely Gebergte sectors) through the extension of existing radio cellular system and the introduction of other 14 pilot community telecentres.

    The total cost of the whole project (which will cover the needs of some 80 percent of the population in the interior (rural) part of Suriname) is estimated to some US$4 million of which Telesur (the national operator) will contribute with more than 50 percent. The cost of the completed "pre-phase" (including two multipurpose community telecentres, equipped with computers, printer telephones, fax and for local video production) and the ongoing phase 1, including three additional telecentres, is estimated to some US$4 million of which Telesur contributes 50 percent. A preliminary feasibility study indicates a reasonable rate of return on investment.

    This proposal resulted from a pre-investment study for a pilot project carried out by the ITU/BDT (BAAP Programme No. 9) in partnership with Telesur, Suriname and Quebecom Rurtel/Berocan International.


    1. Provision of basic telecommunication services in Kilimanjaro region through the introduction of a Pilot Community Telecentre, with telephones, fax computers, modems. The proposal also includes an easily redeployable small capacity Earth station (Inmarsat B of Intelsat DAMA) in Marangu, a radio cellular or MARS, initially connecting some 300 to 400 individually subscribers and two to five public call telephones facilities in Marango and seven payphones in the park, a new digital local exchange and a Digital MW radio link will be required. Estimated total project cost US$550 000 to 750 000.

    2. Provision of basic telecommunications and informatics services in Mbwanza region through the introduction of a pilot community telecentre in Sengerema and public call telephone facilities in the surrounding fishing centres of Victoria Lake. Proposed size of network, equipment and estimated cost are similar to the Marangu project above.

    3. Provision of basic telecommunications and informatics services in Singida rural region through the introduction of a pilot community telecentre in Kiomboi and public call telephone facilities in other rural communities (Ndango, Kinampanda, Shelui). Proposed size of network, equipment and estimated cost are similar to the Marangu project above (upgrading of existing network).

    These proposals were presented by Tanzania Telecommunications Company Ltd. on the basis of a study carried out by ITU/BDT within the TELERUR project in 1994.


    This proposal is based on a study of rural telecommunications carried out by an ITU consultant in 1995. The plan proposes to extend the existing network using digital multiaccess radio systems (DMARS), small capacity radio systems and small capacity rural electronic exchanges with wireless access networks. It covers the Masaka, Rakai and Kalanga Districts with a total of 244 parishes and a total population of 1 238 608. It is suggested that terminals for telemedicine and tele-education applications could be provided in a total of some 80 places (community telecentres). For this project, detailed engineering specification have been made and the total cost of the telecom equipment (excluding project management costs as well as terminal equipment and equipment in community centres) is estimated at US$1.7 million.


    Implementation of four pilot community telecentres to be established in or attached to the existing post offices in two selected areas in the following communities: Tan An (8 600 inhabitants) and Don Quang (16 100 inhabitants) in Ha Bac province in the North mountain and Midland region, Krung Pak (16 000 inhabitants) and Ea Phe (24 000 inhabitants) in the Dak Lak province in the central highlands. Both regions are served with terrestrial networks, but some additional switching and transmission equipment is required to connect the telecentres (besides the telecentre equipment). The total cost of the project is estimated at US$1.4 million plus an annual operating cost of some US$6 000. The total revenue from the first five years of operation (of the telecentres only) is estimated to US$1.34 million.

    This proposal resulted from a pre-investment study carried out by the ITU/BDT (BAAP Programme No. 9) in partnership with Vietnam P&T (VNPT), the Directorate General of P&T (DGPT) and the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA). A number of national potential partners, besides the VNPT, have been identified and Ericsson, Sweden has indicated their interest in participating as partners in this project and their intention to contribute with some of the required telecommunication equipment.


    Provision of basic telecommunications and informatics services in the north-western province of the country through the introduction in Charuma city of a pilot community telecentre with five pay phones, fax, computers, modems, printer, etc., and associated wireless access system (initially 10 individual subscribers expandable to 200 in a later phase), connected to the national and international network through a small/medium capacity satellite earth station (DAMA). This proposal was presented by Zambia Telecommunications Company and the total cost is estimated to US$350 000 to 430 000.

    To Applications: Applying the lessons of participatory communication and training to rural telecentres

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