Posted by Akhtar Badshah Senior Director, Global Community Affairs
A milestone event took place last week in Manila, whereTelecentre.org Foundation was officially launched as an independent organization. Celebrating with our hosts in the Philippines and colleagues from around the world, I reflected on this culmination of nearly six years of effort to help bring the benefits of technology to people in underserved communities around the world.
When I joined Microsoft as the new head of Community Affairs six years ago, one of my first tasks was to launch a global effort to increase public access to technology by supporting operators of local information kiosks (also known as telecentres, telecottages, community technology learning centers and nanosalas, among other names) that provide communities with Internet and other IT services.
In April 2004, I called Richard Fuchs at Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Richard is one of the best-known proponents of the telecentre movement, which he launched in Newfoundland to serve rural communities. The IDRC and Microsoft developed a working arrangement to promote telecentres based on a technology-neutral approach that helped build trust and collaboration among the various development donors, governments, NGOs and the private sector.
We were joined in this effort by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and its former Director General Walter Fust, who had just hosted a very successful World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva in late 2003. Together we launched Telecentre.org in 2005 at WSIS II in Tunis.
Hosted since then by IDRC out of its headquarters in Ottawa, Telecentre.org is now a global movement, with over 200 organizations in 70 countries helping hundreds of millions of individuals to gain access to information. This access has empowered countless communities to engage with their government leaders, reach out to other communities, and begin to pull themselves out of poverty and isolation.
On March 3, 2010, we launched the next phase of the movement – the Telecentre.org Foundation as an independent organization. Its business plan is to train and deploy 1 million telecentre managers by the year 2015, effectively reaching 1 billion people. Senator Edgardo Angara of the Philippines Senate expressed his pleasure that Philippines, where the telecentre movement is vibrant, is now the host country for the Foundation. Secretary Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua of the Philippines Commission on Information and Communications Technology pledged his continued support.
We at Microsoft are very proud to support a movement that continues to blossom and grow. It’s a movement of dedicated individuals who believe in the power of information technology to bring about sustainable and equitable change. Their passion is to create a world of open societies. We at Microsoft share their passion and wish the Telectentre.org Foundation speedy success in their mission to reach a billion people.