Day 1 Study Tour India

A study tour by a high-level African delegation to India commenced on Monday 30 November in Kozhikode in the southern Indian province of Kerala. The team comprising ICT professionals from 15 countries was briefed by Kerala State Information Technology Mission (KSITM) Director Mr. Rathan U Kelkar about trinaug_meetingemendous progress made by the province in reaching the benefits of ICT technologies to people through a concerted effort. Currently, Kerala, which is one of the smaller provinces in India, has more than 2,200 Common Service Centres (CSCs) and these centres, set up through public-private partnerships offer a variety of services in wide spectrum of areas such as agriculture, e-governance, education, and e-payment. He said the provincial state government plans to increase the total number of centres to 3,150.

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Day 2 Study Tour India

FriendsThe high-level African delegation rounded off the first leg of their Indian visit – to the southern Indian state of Kerala – on Tuesday with a visit to an e-services centre located in the urban locality in Kozhikode city. Popularly known as FRIENDS, or Fast, Reliable, Instant FRIENDS_Centreand Efficient Network for Disbursement of Services, it is a one-stop integrated citizen service centre set up by the Government of Kerala. Unlike Akshaya Common Service Centres set up in rural parts of the province, FRIENDS centres are located in the urban areas of the province and run directly by the government. Akshaya centres, on the other hand, are run by private entrepreneurs with the provincial government playing only a facilitator’s role.

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Day 3 Study Tour India

The African delegation, which is on a study tour of India, spent its third day on Wednesday by studying e-governance activities in southern Indian province of Karnataka. During the day, the delegates visited an integrated citizen service centre in the provincial capital city of Bengaluru.

BangaloreOne Centre

Bengaluru, which is popularly known as the IT capital of India, is credited with running the best urban e-governance project in the country. Known as BangaloreOne, these citizen centres serve as a single window for interacting with a host of government departments. Citizens can pay their bills, taxes, receive documents such as birth certificates and even apply for a passport at any time of their convenience as these centres, 55 of them located in different parts of the city, work round the clock on all days, including Sundays and public holidays.

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Day 4 Study Tour India

The African delegation on study visit of India on Thursday wrapped up the second leg of the tour – to the southern Indian state of Karnataka – by visiting a citizen centric e-governance project in rural Karnataka.

Delegates at Nemmadi centre in Karnataka

The visit to a telecentre in a village located 45 kilometres from state capital city of Bangalore helped the delegates appreciate different kind of activities undertaken by the rural e-governance project, called Nemmadi (Nemmadi in local Kannada language means “peace of mind”. There are currently 769 Nemmadi telecentres in Karnataka. "The main idea behind the project is to bring the administration closer to the common man and have a single window for all government services at the village level,” said Jayateerth Gururaj, state coordinator for CSCs.

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Day 5 Study Tour India

The high-level delegation from 14 African countries on Thursday visited two Common Service Centres (CSCs) in rural parts of Eastern Indian state of West Bengal.

Delegation at Nasibpur CSC operated by SahajDelegation at Nasibpur CSC operated by Sahaj

The CSCs in West Bengal are being set up as per a tripartite agreement between the state government, a private firm which is responsible for providing software and hardware for CSCs and village level entrepreneurs who will eventually run the CSCs on the day to day basis. West Bengal plans to set up a total of 6797 CSCs in rural areas and another 700 in urban areas of the state. The state government has mandated that there should be at least one CSC for every 10,000 people and if the population in a local administration area (which is called Gram Panchayat in local parlance) exceeds 10,000, there should be an additional CSC. It is also warranted that if local panchayat office can accommodate, the CSC should be located there.

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Day 6 Study Tour India

The West Bengal leg of the study tour by the African delegation came to a conclusion on Saturday with an inspiring address by the state’s Panchayat and Rural Development Special Secretary Ranjit Kumar Maiti.

West Bengal Panchayat Deptt Secretary R K Maiti addreses the delegation on Saturday

African delegation at a meeeting on SaturdayMaiti, who has played a key role in the CSC movement in the state, told the delegates that there are potential linkages between ICT and broad-based development in the areas of education, health and economic and social development of rural areas. The state government’s decision to embrace ICT and set up CSCs stems from this realisation. The public private partnership (PPP) model adopted by the West Bengal government is apt for CSC because it seeks to combine three things: the government’s eagerness to connect to its people, managerial innovations of the private sector which acts as service centre agency and entrepreneurial skills of a village level entrepreneur.

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Day 7 Study Tour Inida

Prof_N_Vinod_Chandra in DelhiThe African delegation had a rare opportunity of listening to a foremost disaster management expert on Sunday, when Prof N Vinod Chandra Menon, member of India’s statutory National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) shared his views on exploiting advances in ICT for disaster communication.

ICT is the only efficient vehicle that can take the message to people in the times of disasters. During disasters, it is very important that the affected community receive the right information. This will help the local community can get into action swiftly. When a disaster strikes it is very important that people help each other, as waiting for external assistance will always lead to higher loss of human lives and property, he said. If the right message is available, many tragedies can be averted, he opined.

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Day 8 Study Tour : India-Africa Forum in Delhi

day_8_koda_opening_speechThe high-level African delegation, which is on its last leg of its India study visit, on Monday participated in seminar which deliberated upon the role of government in ICT for development.

The seminar opened with the introductory remarks of Mr Koda Traoré, ICT4D Programme Coordinator, on behalf of Dr Hansjörg Neun, Director, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). In his address, Mr Traoré said that African Leaders, within the framework of the New Partnership of Development of Africa (NEPAD are in the process of harmonising their Policy and Regulatory Framework and are working toward investing in ICT infrastructure for better Governance and improved socio-economic performances.

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Day 9 Study Tour: India-Africa Forum in Delhi

delegates at Dialogue meetingThe last day of the visit to India by a high-level Africa delegation concluded in New Delhi on December 8, 2009. The delegation not only acquired a first hand knowledge about ICT initiatives put in place by various provincial governments by visiting CSCs in the Indian provinces of Kerala, Karnataka and West Bengal, but also had an opportunity to interact with a wide range of policy makers, civil society leaders and officials of public and private enterprises, including those who spearhead the telecentre movement in the country.

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New Video on TelecentresAfrica Study Tour

A new video on the TelecentresAfrica Study Visit to India produced by CTA and People TV focusses on the observations and lessons learned of the African participants.  The Study Visit was organised by CTA from 29 November to 8 December 2009. An African delegation of 14 different countries visited the states of Kerala, Karnataka and West Bengal, and had a 2-days conference with Indian colleagues from government, private sector and NGOs in Delhi. They visited telecentres (called Common Service Centres), set up within the framework of the National E-Governance Plan in the three states and had meetings with government and private sector staff involved in the set-up and management of these centres.

New Video Study Visit India

Video on TelecentresAfrica Study Tour India

A video presents the TelecentresAfrica Study Visit to India from 29 November 2009 to 8 December. An African delegation of 14 different countries visited the states of Kerala, Karnataka and West Bengal, and had a 2-days conference with Indian colleagues from government, private sector and NGOs in Delhi. They visited Common Service Centres set up within the framework of the National E-Governance Plan in the three states and had several meetings with government and private sector staff involved in the set up and management of these centres.

Video TelecentresAfrica Study Visit India