mardi 18 octobre 2011

Changing the Rwandan market model; can it be done?

Deploying 1.000 Telecentres in a country like Rwanda, has the potential to do more than giving people access to ICT. With 1.000 Telecentres, there's one access point for every 11.000 Rwandans. Or, looking from another angle, on selling point for every 11.000 Rwandans. And that is something a lot of organizations in Rwanda - private, public and civil society - would probably be very interested in. To sell their products, deliver their services or spread their information to the people.

As a westerner, I found the added value of such a service & information delivery channel hard to understand. But what I had to realize, is that an efficient distribution channel is almost a given in the West, but not in a developing country as Rwanda. Therefore, this is one almost certain way of adding value - and sustainability - to the individual Telecentres, provided that the network can be created at high speed.

But can we take it one step further? What if we could not only create a flow from the private, public and civil organizations towards the population, but also a flow from the population to the organizations?

Great examples of this two-way distribution channel are Drishtee and E-Choupal in India. Due to inefficiencies in the transport system, India relied on several middelmen to get the products from the farmers to the producers. Farmers lost up to 30% of their income to these middlemen, were unable to respond the market price and could not improve their production, since they lacked knowledge of latest techniques or even a reliable weather forecast. Drishtee and E-choupal, two telecentre organizations, equipped thousands of villages with a computer connected to the internet and ensured the right processes and information availability. As a result, farmers get a better price, can produce better quality and the efficiency of the market has increased.

So the question are : can we step take it one step further in Rwanda? How can we provide telecentres with multiple revenue streams to enhance sustainability? What does the value chain look like in Rwanda and are there any inefficiency that can be diminished using telecentres?

The writer is Juriaan Deumer, Member of RTN advisory board

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