Interesting how research gets used. We draw the conclusion that mobile is the path to the information society or digital Bangladesh or whatever it’s called. In the Dhaka Mirror article, the Bangladeshi experts draw the conclusion that what is needed are more telecenters.
M Faizullah Khan, president of the Bangladesh Computer Samity, disagrees with the notion that the Bangladeshi poor can in no way afford computers while the Indians and Pakistanis can.
Contradicting the country’s much trumpeted success in mass education, Khan said, ‘Effective literacy had not been ensured for the poor people.’
He said that lack of Bangla-based computer operation systems and software also make computers difficult and less useful to poor Bangladeshis whose knowledge of the English language is next to nothing.
‘In spite of the zero duty on computer in Bangladesh, its use is lowest in South Asia,’ said a leader of the local vendors of computer hardware.
Economist Ananya Raihan said that if the per capita income ratio is considered, the cost of computers is high, at least for the poor, in Bangladesh.
He, however, said that individual access to computers cannot contribute significantly to the social and economic uplifting of the poor people in a developing country like Bangladesh
For making ICT services effective to poor people, community access to computers is essential, said Raihan, who is an executive director of D.Net (Development Research Network) that works for development of the ICT network throughout Bangladesh.
The original article had been on the front page of New Age, but Google picked up the Mirror first.
It is already justified thorough other research works, why telecentres are important. The debate is not whether we should go for telecentre or mobile phone based services. While we have deployed a number of services for the poor people through mobile phone/ telecommunications network, I do not think it is an either or situation. We need both: services through mobile or other wireless networks and telecentres.
If we think of inclusive development through ICTs, we need to develop a “system” of information and knowledge, where we should not exclude any of the promising technologies.