Telecentre practitioners across Africa understand that networking is the best way to make telecentres effective as vehicles of social development. Practitioners appreciate that networking provides opportunities for peer learning and support, facilitates access to technical support and expands telecentres’ social supply chain function.
Indeed networking and collaboration of African telecentre networks has been growing incrementally since 2006 albeit in an informal manner. The effort that started with discussions in 2002-3 and continued with telecentre.org support helped many telecentre networks to emerge and others to grow stronger. The core support enabled a number of networks to build capacity and mobilize additional partnerships. Over this period, across the continent, national networks working in French, English, Arabic and Portuguese have established relationships and developed concrete activities that strengthen their respective programs. Networks have engaged with each other to share knowledge, develop new products and services, develop institutional capacities, address operational challenges, mobilize resources and promote telecentres. Networking has created a sense of common purpose that binds networks together and offers higher aspirations – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Existing national African networks are committed to the goal of providing a structure for the on-going networking efforts, building on their practical experience of working together. The networks have grown to 15, namely Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa. On the other, regional networks are beginning to emerge – some informal initiatives in West Africa, SATNET in Southern Africa, and North African involvement in a Middle East and North Africa Network – while CTA launched an African Telecentre Network and is taking initiatives with organizations such as IICD and IKMemergent in the area of content, and other telecentres and networks are involved in the knowledge network project.