It is for this reason that the following remain the primary objectives of the TeleCentre:
- Promote Information Computing Technology in rural areas of Zambia.
- Be a training centre for Information computing innovations in rural areas.
- Be a resource centre with Teveta and other skills training institutes.
- Empower Women and other vulnerable groups in information computing skills.
- Network with other organizations involved in Information Computing Technology.
- Be a self sustaining Information Computing Centre.
Achievements and Market Analysis
From inception in the year 2005, the Centre was the main provider of internet facilities and other business centre facilities in Chipata. Consequently its main clientele had started appreciating the services and regarded internet for example, as synonymous with the Tigwilizane TeleCentre. A layman’s assessment would have put Tigwilizane as a market leader then with a share of perhaps 75 % of the market in as far as internet was concerned. Revenues then were quite substantial and hence it was a worthwhile investment. Among the services were internet, photocopying, typing and processing letters, reports and other documents for the clients, scanning, fax service, binding, laminating and many other related services.
Among our major clients at the peak of our operations were international tourists (wanting to keep in touch with their homes), local traders, contractors, students, lecturers, and institutions including the Government. In fact even today the main clients for the business centre still remain the groups mentioned above. Tigwilizane, despite facing these challenges, has managed to keep operating due to our dedicated members who have a passion to continue providing these services to the Community so as to contribute to the development of our Country and reducing poverty in our communities. ICTs are a prerequisite to Economic and Social development in our communities and should be allowed to grow. Tigwilizane therefore took the initiative to earn alternative Income in the following ways:
1. Tigwilizane engaged two volunteer expert computer technicians to repair and service Computers at different Government Departments. We were fortunate to carry out some works with The Department of Social welfare, Department of Community Development, Department of veterinary and live Stock Development, Zambia Railways, Road Development Agency and Individuals from the general Community.
2. Tigwilizane through its Volunteer Computer Technicians, managed to carry out a one (1) week Basic Internet appreciation course for Chipata Teacher College for forty (40) lecturers. More individuals in the community would like to get training from Tigwilizane except that they request a Certificate of which we are not registered with TEVETA.
Tigwilizane successfully organized and hosted the 24th October, 2009 Independence cup tournament. The first ever in chipata with prizes awarded to the deserving teams. The tournament constituted with teams in Football, Volley and Netball
Beginning the year 2008/ 2009 a number of business persons had started venturing into opening business centres within Chipata. The new competition provided meant that we had to improve certain aspects of our operations. Among our key competitors were Sundi Cyber Café and Nokamu Business Centre. What is key for these two main competitors is the fact that they have done major capital investments and have much more modern equipment. Obviously this meant that Tigwilizane was at a disadvantage unless with serious injection of capital. In the next Section we shall discuss the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that exist in the market.
Strengths of the centre
- Business Location: Tigwilizane is located alone Umodzi highway, Chembe building, which is at a central location in Chipata. The location is very convenient for many people as this is the heart of the Central Business District of Chipata.
- Business Working hours: Tigwilizane is open from 08:00hrs to 20:00hrs and is the only centre that proves this service in Chipata for our working class clientele that knocks off at 15:00hrs.
- Infrastructure: Tigwilizane has an already existing Computers and a Local Area Network (LAN) that has proven to be very convenient. The LAN makes it easy to control the use of resources such as toner for the printers as we are able to do central printing. Tigwilizane has not performed favorable due to the Income base not increasing despite the introduction of six (6) new Computers and four (4) new Modems by ZICTA on 24th June, 2009. The new Computers were unfortunately not enough to sustain the Centre.
- Availability of Software and Hardware Engineers: Tigwilizane has experienced and qualified Computer Technicians that provide Software and Hardware repairs to Government Institutions, private institutions and local individuals at very competitive prices.
- Provision of credit facilities to a chosen clientele: Tigwilizane is the only centre that offers its chosen clientele with credit facilities which are settled on a monthly basis. This is obviously an attraction to customers.
- Promotion of Community based developmental activities in the communities: for the under privileged and vulnerable.
- Old equipment: The Centre faces the problem of having fairly old equipment. It should be appreciated that the field of IT is evolving every day and hence the need to update both software and hardware is a matter of necessity. From 2009 to 2010, Tigwilizane has been faced with interruptions in operations due to older equipment that has been in operation since the establishment of the Centre in 2006.
- The photocopier has been constantly breaking down.
- The printer has also reached scrap value.
- The UPS batteries are old and constantly breaking down.
- The power regulator has reached scrap value and needs constant repairs.
- The Binding machine has reached scrap value.
- The Laminating Machine also needs replacing.
All these peripherals have been in use on a daily basis since 2006 without replacement. This meant we had to shut down operations at times for days while waiting for repairs therefore losing Income.
- Unreliable Internet Service Provider (ISP): At the time of establishment in 2006, the Internet Service Provider of choice then was the Zambia Telecommunications Company (ZAMTEL). However, the developments in ZAMTEL leading up to its privatization proved extremely negative for the operations of the Centre as services were continuously interrupted. In the meantime, ZAMTEL still billed the Centre according to the original agreement of fixed charges per month. This resulted in our losing ground to our competitors who had quickly shifted to other privately owned ISP’s such as I-Connect. Tigwilizane has been facing operational difficulties with ZAMTEL due to the privatization resulting in ZAMTEL providing very erratic internet services. The need for change to another more convenient and reliable ISP is a matter of urgency.
- Electricity: The centre had been crippled by erratic Electricity supply which crippled operations for more than seven months after one of our Modems was destroyed. This therefore entails the need for new UPSs to avoid what had happened before.
- ZICTA: Tigwilizane will benefit greatly with the formation of ZICTA in harnessing the full benefit of having a supporting partner.
- International clientele: with the increased number of tourists, peace cops and exchange students, Tigwilizane has the opportunity of benefiting due to our central location and long working hours.
- Training programs: Tigwilizane has a good working history and qualified computer personnel who can train the local community in ICT skills.
- The 2011 Elections: The elections scheduled for the year 2011 will provide a great opportunity for the Centre to have a great number of clients from among the politicians standing for various positions. We note that many politicians usually do a lot of printing works during the period.
The main threat may be the establishment of other business centers providing similar services. However, this threat can still be mitigated in the fact that all the other major Centres have the disadvantage of limitations in opening hours. For example, the Sundi Cyber Café is closed according to the time of prayer for the owners who are Moslems; Nokamu is also closed on Saturday due to religious reasons for the owners while during the week they have to close by 17.00hours as the premises also caters for a FOREX Bureau which has to comply with Bank of Zambia Regulations as regards to opening times. We therefore intend to take full advantage of our opening times to cater for workers who knock off from work after 17.00hours as well as those who are able to use our services on weekends.
A forecast of the future
The business outlook is quite promising. Our vision is to be the market leader while still ensuring that we do not lose focus on the overall mission of the Centre which is to provide a reliable one-stop TeleCentre whereby all key services shall be provided by the Tigwilizane Business Centre.
Our strategy to achieve our primary goals is to ensure that we are fully equipped with the latest equipment, provide a unique and differentiated service and ensure that we run the Centre on professional lines.