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Home : ITU-D : ICT Applications and Cybersecurity Division : Telecentres


"A telecentre is a public place where people can access computers, the Internet, and other digital technologies that help them gather information and communicate with others the same time as they develop digital skills......" (Wikipedia)

"A location which facilitates and encourages the provision of a wide of public and private information-based goods and services, and which supports local economic or social development" (IDRC)

  • Telecentres: Key to Socio-economic Development

The telecentre movement is based on a 3-pronged foundation:

The right information at the right time can contribute to development

ICT provides a vital tool for people to access information at a lower cost

Telecentres are a viable way to link communities with the information and communication technologies

Telecentres and other community technology efforts are helping people worldwide to join the knowledge society. They provide the essential foundational infrastructure upon which concrete ICT applications in healthcare, local economic development, rural e-Commerce, education, and e-Governance can reach the people who need them most.

There is much evidence to show that unequal ICT access because of economic, social and cultural reasons actually perpetuates poverty and consequently reduces the potential growth and development of countries. The inclusion of such marginalised groups into mainstream development is one of the main development challenges facing nations. As a result there are a number of digital inclusion initiatives in less developed and developing countries where there is a heavy dependence on public access to technology.

Basis of Telecentres

Telecentres are based on the premise that access to information will lead to empowerment which will eventually lead to development.

Today, telecentres exist in almost every country, although they sometimes go by different names — village knowledge centres, infocentres, community technology centres, community multimedia centres, information kiosks, or school-based telecentres.

There is no one single model for creating a telecentre — they are as diverse as the communities they serve. Some are stand-alone, nonprofit institutions. Others have integrated community access to computers and the Internet into public facilities, such as schools, libraries, municipal buildings, and social service agencies. Still others have encouraged and supported small-scale entrepreneurs to set up independent computer kiosks in rural areas.

Community Telecentres

MCTs tend to be in the public sector

Operated by government bodies or NGOs

Serve low-income clientele (usually)

Services my include Internet access, desktop publishing, community newspapers, sales or rental of audio and video recordings, book lending, training, photocopying, faxing, telephone services.



Mainly focus on Internet access and use of computers

Clients tend to be more urban, more educated than clients of telecentres

Information Access Points

These fall between the cybercafe and telecentre approaches and may be reinforced by sectoral organizations such as those in tourism, health and agriculture that build special information systems.


The role of telecentres in bridging the Digital Divide

Telecentres play a crucial role in increasing access to ICTs and thereby help to bridge the digital divide, especially in developing countries. They provide access to ICTs at a lower cost to those communities where personal ICT ownership is limited.


Why telecentres?

The July 2000 Okinawa Charter on Global Information Society stated that access to the information society should be provided to everyone. As a result, it agreed to assist developing countries bridge the digital divide through the creation of public access centres such as telecentres. Thus telecentres are based on the premise that connectivity (technical construct) as well as direct access (economic, social and psychological) to information will lead to empowerment, capacity building and thereby development.

In many parts of the developing world, access to information is greatly restricted by two main factors: lack of connectivity and the cost of access. These two critical factors are closely interrelated.

The role of ITU in the telecentre movement

ITU has helped countries set up and manage telecentres, and assisted countries in providing guidance on policies and strategies for promoting access and use of ICTs in rural and urban areas as a vehicle for improving the social and economic conditions of the population in these areas.

Although ITU has been involved in a number of collaborative telecentre projects over the years, it has now assumed the role of an enabler in the telecentre domain by developing a Global Telecentres Portal ( which aims to capture information on telecentres worldwide and visually display search information on an interactive map, available to all interested stakeholders.

The Global Telecentres Portal can be used in many ways including displaying telecentre density in specific regions thereby identifying which regions are well served. It will also be useful in locating individual telecentres in a given country along with the contact address and all relevant information about that telecentre. It is hoped that individuals will eventually be able to to easily locate the nearest telecentre in order to use its services. Consequently this information will also be useful to ITU in advising governments and other stakeholders in strengthening the telecentre movement.

Promoting the development of multipurpose community telecentres (MCTs) and multipurpose platforms (MPPs) around the world continues to be one of the priority activities of ITU-D Programme 3 and the ICT Applications and Cybersecurity Division. More information on ITU telecentre projects here. Links to community telecentre-related activities and  worldwide resources are shown below.


[Browse CYB News Feeds]

Projects and Resources

ITU Global Telecentres Portal

Internet Training Centres

Child Online Protection Initiative

[More ITU-D resources]

ITU Papers


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Updated : 2009-06-12