Sustainability is not an issue for this telecenter. It provides all its service, be it Internet surfing, computer training, library facilities or even typesetting and printing services free of charge, treating them as community services. Thondaman Foundation, a non-profit organization, with a ministerial backing, that intends “to make available to the plantation community the wide advantages of the internet and intranet communication technologies” has set up this centre in the middle of the picturesque Glenore estate at Haputale, to serve a population of 5,000 from the surrounding villages. This is one of the 45 such centres in different estates in the Central, Uva and Sabaragamuva provinces. The white dish, gives a sense of remoteness, but it need not be.
Yesterday, I spoke to a large and restive crowd (made so by lack of air conditioning and a delayed start) in Matara (main city in the South of Sri Lanka) at the launch of the Pathfinder Foundation’s first book, a Sinhala translation of Janos Kornai’s Toward a free economy. I was asked to talk about globalization and the relevance of Kornai’s ideas for facing the challenges posed by globalization. In this talk that I pieced together thanks to time zone differences that caused me to wake up at 3 in the morning while in the US, I illustrated the issues referring to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), a broad area of service exports for which efficient, flexible and low-cost telecom is a pre-condition. I think the talk provides the "big picture" of the necessity of telecom reforms of the type that we at LIRNEasia are involved in. If we are to go beyond simply giving people phones, to giving them "money in the pocket and hope in the heart" this big picture is essential.