A comparative study of the role of donors in three telecentre projects in Africa.
The purpose of the study was to investigate the role of donors in the establishment, implementation and sustainability of donor-funded telecentres in Africa. This was achieved by looking at success factors and reasons of failure at three donor-funded telecentres across three countries on the continent. The projects in question were Nakaseke Telecentre in Uganda, Bhamshela Telecentre in South Africa and the Malawi Rural Telecentre Project (MRTP) which, in the end, was never implemented in Malawi. To achieve the objectives of the study, both secondary and primary sources of data were used. The population of the study consisted of senior officers within the organisations that pledged financial and technical support for the MR TP and those that funded the Bhamshela and Nakaseke Telecentres. However, since there was no response from the donors of the Nakaseke Telecentre, all the data relating to the case was solely sourced from the literature (both print and on-line). Data collected dealt with various aspects of telecentre establishment, implementation and sustainability. The study found that Africa depends heavily on external finance and expertise to establish and implement telecentres due to financial incapacity, lack of expertise and poor infrastructure. The various experiences from the three cases have also demonstrated that donors cannot apply a single model of implementation uniformly across the region due to various political and socio-economic factors existing in different areas of the continent. Finally, the study highlighted the fact that if project sustainability is to be achieved, donors need to constantly improve the training and management component of telecentres. Therefore, rather than trying to draw a standard blueprint for project success, donors need to be ingenious and learn from shared experiences in the field, creatively adapting the solutions that work in one context to others. In conclusion, the findings identified in the present study potentially open up a window for the possibility of future research in terms of the success of donor-funded telecentres in Africa.