Efforts to set up Southern Africa Telecentre Network (SATNET) are underway with the Zambia Association for Advancement of ICTs (ZAA-ICTs) being the lead network for the project.
ZAA-ICT Executive Coordinator, Dean Mulozi said there was need to have this network to help support the information development of rural telecentres. He said they were facilitating the development of the SATNET.
A visit to Chinyunyu Community Multipurpose Telecentre in rural Zambia showed that when a community is involved in the setting up of a Telecentre the people embrace the centre as their own. Set up in 2006, the centre last year installed solar energy and a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) with the help of UNIDO which has enabled farmers to charge their mobile phone barriers and have access to the internet.
It is important that the centre realizes the money that it pays to the Communications Authority of Zambia as regulators fees and also the monthly subscription for the VSAT connection which is a very big challenge as the centre was in a rural location.
Austin Chilala Head of Kasis Agricultural Training Centre said the centre had received a seven acres of land as a donation to the project from Chief Bunda Bunda. The steering committee now plans to put up demonstration plots for the farmers and housing for stuff.
It is clear that Chinyunyu Telecentre does not need to exist in isolation but needs to learn from other telecentres are sustaining themselves which makes initiatives of setting up SATNET relevant.
There is also need of creating an electronic network before creating a physical network as this is very vital now that telecentres are being encouraged to provide internet services to their communities.
So far feedback from Chinyunyu farmers include that fact that they had learnt how to process chili and expand their fish farming activities as they accessed information from Chinyunyu Telecentre.