Introduction:The blog is a collection in a series which are part of the Study Tour which Zambia Telecentre Network selected team of Four undertook to Botswana in August,2011,with support from Southern Africa Telecentre Network to learn and exchange the use of ICTs in the country and its connection to livestock and agriclture.
Nteletsa is a Tseswana word that means ‘call me’. The Telecentres are deployed as a public private partnership project between the Ministry of Technology and Communication and Mobile phone network operators Botswana. This initiative is part of the government’s effort to achieve rural access to information as part of the universal access agenda.
Under the department of Telecommunication and Postal services , the government of Botswana have developed an innovative approach to respond to the high need of information for survival and development among the rural population of the country who are mainly livestock farmers. The information centres are deployed in different villages around the country under two models. The Kitsong Centres and Nteletsa 2 telecentres respectively. Kitsong centres are operated by the Botswana Post where as the Nteletsa 3 telecentres are deployed by a partnership of mobile phone network operators Mascom, Orange and Bemobile.
After deployment , the Nteletsa 2 Telecentres are managed by the local village community through the Village Development Committee. This gives the local community a sense of ownership as they work towards the succesful operation of these telecentres.
The Sikwane Nteletsa 2 Telecentre, located in Sikwane village a low populated village of Kgatleng District, manifest how these centres are truly achieving access to information for rural people in Botswana. Housed in a 20 fit specially designed container and connected to electricity, the telecentre has four desktop computers, a printer, fax machine, photocopying machine, and connects to the internet through a 3G router. Three local people works in the telecentre of which two of them are youths.
The telecentre provides services such as document processing which includes typing, printing and photocopying, fax, mobile phone air time recharge cards and SIM cards,phone charging, and internet services. During working days and saturdays, the telecentre is open for about8 hours a day, giving more hours of access to the local people.
Like other Nteletsa 2 Telecentres in the country, Sikwane Nteletsa 2 Telecentre is facing a number of challenges especially sustainability as very few people walks into the telecentre to access services. The major economic activity in the village is livestock farming. Villagers have herds of cattle, goats, sheep and donkeys. Upon entering the village one would not doubt that this is yet another home of livestock farmers. The majority of the population are elderly people as youths have migrated to the cities to seek employment and work from there.
It is clearly noted that Nteletsta 2 telecentres need to diversify in the delivery of services and products with a focus on the information needs of the villagers if more users have to be attained and to increase revenue as well as fully utilise the infrastructure.
Considering the fact that the majority of the village dwellers are livestock farmers, agricultural research practitioners and extension support officers need to work together with the Village Development Committee and supporting partners to develop content and information services relevant to the economic activities of the villagers, in particular livestock. These partners can meaningfully engage in providing information services which would supplement the other modes of support which vet nary extension officers as well as research practitioners could have already been offering.
Nteletsa, truly on the right track to achieve rural access to information for survival and development.