vendredi 25 mars 2011

Community Informatics/TelecentresAfrica initiative

T. Burke: What is Community Informatics?
Koda: Community Informatics "is part and parcel of the use of information and communication technology (ICT) at the grassroots or community level as it supports social, cultural and economic development within grassroots communities. Community informatics, as a field of practice includes those concerned with ensuring ICT access and use at the grassroots level: development agencies that support and facilitate field practitioners, private sector suppliers of hard-software and governments that provide the regulatory, programme and financial framework that enables the process of grassroots based development. Perhaps most importantly, community informatics is all about supporting grassroots/community initiatives in self-organized and locally empowered development [cf. Michael Gurstein].

T. Burke: How does this link to the Telecentre project?
Koda: The TelecentresAfrica initiative was been launched by CTA and the InfoBridge Foundation with an initial emphasis on “Rural Community Service Delivery” involving social entrepreneurs in Africa active in rural areas. The achievement of this objective requires building integral links with other development sectors including a research component in the implementation framework. In this regard, the Community Informatics approach is a great opportunity as it refers to a multidisciplinary field of investigation and practice “concerned with principles and norms related to information and communication technology (ICT) with a focus on the personal, social, cultural or economic development of, within and by communities”.

T. Burke: How is CTA getting involved in the development of Community Informatics?
Koda: TelecentresAfrica operates mainly as a network facilitator and capacity building enabler. In this regard, the initiative will support the newly established NEPAD Community Informatics Network in setting up a multi-stakeholder dialogues and knowledge sharing platforms. Moreover, direct linkages will be established with higher education and research collaboration programmes of universities and centres of excellence in Africa and in Europe to develop training materials and curricula for young African ICT4D professionals within the framework of the proposed NEPAD Community Informatics Network.

T. Burke: What is the benefit to the community?
Koda: As far as developing countries are concerned, the time has come to go beyond discussions of the "Digital Divide" and move on to examine the effects of ICT strategy implementation and supporting the use of ICT by the most marginalised and underprivileged communities particularly those living in rural areas. This approach is specifically interested in the effective use of ICTs for different forms of community action, as distinct from pure academic study or research about ICT effects. So local communities in rural areas in Africa will directly benefit from the research activities within the framework of community informatics.

Interview by T. Burke, CTA

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