Over the years community based telecentres, rural service centres, ICT resource centres and others that share similar synonyms, have been yearning for technical and management support to enable their organizations to provide required services and operate sustainably. Equally many of the southern African countries need collaborative efforts to ensure that telecentres share and inform each other on key issues that affect respective development agenda. The advent of Southern Africa Telecentre Network and emerging telecentre networks in countries of the region is proving to give hope to a number of national telecentre practitioners to mobilize themselves into formidable service delivery national organizations.

Strong and viable regional and national organisations will provide opportunities for fostering information sharing and capacity development for the work of community telecentres and generally integration of ICTs in areas of agriculture, health, education and other social and economic sectors. In order to support these initiatives, the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) responded positively to a request submitted with the support of InfoBridge Foundation for the establishment of a regional telecentres network for Southern Africa. CTA  agreed to support Telecentres capacity development in Southern Africa within the framework of the TelecentresAfrica programme.

This partnership was part of the three year programme of a contract signed between CTA and ZAA-ICT/SATNET to support capacity development of telecentres. The Capacity building and telecentre network development project was an initiative that focused on facilitating increased participation by local communities in development through the work of telecentres in Southern Africa. The project addressed the challenge of unifying and sharing information resources among telecentres in the region. The project paid special attention to elements that will strengthen the capacity of SATNET to contribute to raising awareness on policy implication at local level especially for improved value chain. During the project InfoBridge Foundation provided SATNET information and knowledge management and strategic planning support.

The activities of the project included:

  • the organization of multi-stakeholder Media, ICT and agriculture forum to  seek for the engagement of agricultural and ICT policy makers, media and ICT4D professionals in support to ICT based service delivery (telecentre) in rural areas;
  • the establishment of collaboration and partnership between existing telecentre networks through exchange visits and telecentre fora at national level;
  • The organization of knowledge management training in Malawi to reinforce the capacity of telecentres managers in using and adopting the appropriate methods and tools to share agricultural content and knowledge within their communities
  • The reinforcement of national networks capacities through the procurement basic digital equipments to capture and share local agricultural practices within and across countries.

The development meant that each country and respective telecentres and service centres have adequate capacity to provide sustainable services to local populations. This will result in a strong foundation that will enable national networks for improved capacity to explore and improve their collaboration with international agencies in the area of ICT4 development.  It is anticipated that national and regional networks will have been strengthened through better Knowledge sharing in ARD policies implications at local level and improved value chain.