STATEMENT FROM the Telecentre Caucus
Florence E Etta, International Development Research Centre
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Telecentre Caucus and the World Summit
on the Information Society Gender Caucus (WSIS Gender Caucus), I thank
firstly, the Executive Secretariat of WSIS for offering us these 3 minutes,
and secondly, CONGO for ensuring that it happened. I speak on behalf of the
global telecentre movement, telecentre project implementers and for all
Information and communication technologies represent one
of the greatest achievements of human civilisation and they have immense
potential for doing good or evil for human development. The new ICTs
(Internet, mobile phones etc) have a short history which is inversely
proportional to the impact that they have had on the world, on work and on
lives. But 1/2 the people on earth have no telephone
and ╝ have not made one phone call in their entire lives.
Telecentres, described by the World Bank in 2000 as a
promising new model for deployment of services to marginalized communities
are the schools, hospitals, agric extension offices and community centres of
the future. But this journey to tomorrow must start everywhere today, infact,
NOW. The creative deployment of telecentres could guarantee that ICTs do not
accentuate human disadvantage but enhance societal development. Telecentres
could marry the knowledge of science and scientific discovery to the wisdom
and ingenuity of indigenous practices. Telecentres could bring meaning,
relevance and practicality to conversations across and between cultures.
Telecentres could reduce the digital gap; nay divide between the north and
south, centre and the periphery, rural and urban. literate and illiterate,
rich and poor, young and old and above all men and women.
This great gift of humanity can be used to ensure
equality and greater inclusion (social and gender justice), greater
productivity as well as better livelihoods for the entire world. The big
question is; Will we allow it? Can we summon the political will and
economic resources to make it happen?
Your excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, on
behalf of the Telecentre Caucus, and the WSIS gender Caucus, I exhort you
all today to support better policies, more funding, appropriate and
efficient organisational arid Implementation mechanisms which will help the
release the transformative power of telecentres. A vital ingredient to
ensure social change through the telecentre is the spirit to work together
for the collective good of those who cannot be here today but whose lives
will change for the better because of a Telecentre within walking distance
of their abodes no matter where in the world they might happen to live.
Thank you all for your attention.