TREND ICT IN KENYA
Kenya has made unparalleled progress in modernizing its information
and telecommunications sector. It now boasts of a modern telecoms
sector with the highest subscriber base in the region and a robust
voice and data transmission service that is bearing fruit on cost and
If the current growth trends persist for the next 10 years, it is
expected that the number of Kenyans whose lives will depend on
information and communication services will have risen to nearly half
the population from the current estimate of 10 million.
All the developments are hinged on the establishment of sustainable
and predictable regulatory environment that addresses Kenya's needs
for the entire sector.
Access to ICT services is currently limited to a few major towns,
leaving out the rural areas and hence cutting out the majority of
Kenyans from enjoyment of these services.
The digital divide between the urban and rural populations is the
focus of the implementation strategy of the current ICT Master Plan.
This divide is also the biggest challenge that the government faces and
underlines its policy strategy to identify and implement ICT
programmes that will lead to low-cost provision of ICT goods and
services in line with the overall policy objectives of attaining universal
access at affordable costs.
COMPONENTS OF ICT
Community communications technologies tend to fall into three
categories – Radio (unidirectional, broadcast), Telephone
(bidirectional, person-to-person) and Internet-based Communications
(computer mediated, all forms).
In Kenya Radio covers about 75 percent of the region's population,
Television 40 percent and access to the Internet is limited to about 0.1
percent (Pruett, 1998) -the great majority of these in cities.
Telephone penetration in rural and remote areas has been quite low,
and such services were very expensive.
The advantages of fixed Telephone include:
1. Ability to place a phone call can either avoid a time-consuming
and potentially risky trip to the city, or by scheduling
appointments, make the trip more effective.
2. Improve quality of life,
3. Reduce costs and reduce time spent away from food- or income-
In the past 10 years, mobile phone use has grown dramatically in
Kenya overtaking fixed line services. This explosive growth
demonstrates the pent-up demand for basic telephone services.
Growth has been especially rapid in the past seven years, since
telecommunications sector reforms opened markets to competition
There are many reasons for the increased use of mobile phones. One
common reason is the low quality and unreliable service, as well as
shortage, of fixed lines. Mobile phones also attract customers because
they are convenient, sleek and portable, and carry social status.
However, it will be a long time before the majority of the poor can
afford a personal phone of their own.
Internet-based communications have been the basis for many ICT
projects in the last decade.
The high cost of communications and the lack of skills is a major
barrier to wide use, as is unreliable electrical power, literacy and the
use of a language which the technology supports in written form limits
Employing the internet in rural areas will potentially:
reduce the isolation and marginalisation of rural
facilitate dialogue among communities and those who
encourage participation of communities in decisions which
impact their lives
coordinate local, regional and national development efforts
for increased efficiency and effectiveness
provide information, knowledge and skills training in a
responsive, flexible manner, and help overcome the physical
and financial barriers that prevent agricultural researchers,
technicians, farmers and others from sharing information
It is more flexible, far cheaper form of global communication
and offers even greater opportunities.
It is estimated that more than 50% of all households have ready
access to radio receivers.
Community participation is a fundamental characteristic of rural
radio live public shows, village debates and participation in the actual
management of the radio.
Community Radio is:
Inexpensive, has wide coverage and is readily available, to very
remote rural populations.
Programme production is relatively simple and stations can
easily create their own content
An important mechanism for rapid diffusion of development
information in local of languages and to widespread, often
remote geographical areas.
a channel for interactive communication for dialogue and debate
on the major issues of rural development
a platform for democratic and pluralistic expression of the
opinions, needs and aspirations of rural communities
A tool for cultural expression and entertainment and a means of
collecting, preserving and enhancing the oral and musical
heritage of rural communities.
A medium to collect local information on social issues which is
essential for defining, planning and implementing development
A means of raising public awareness and motivation
A tool which combined with other media can be used for
training and transfer and exchange of knowledge and
It is an effective medium for motivating farmers and for drawing
their attention to new agricultural production ideas and
Is an effective way to reach female groups that have little access
to other communications channels
Is effective at disseminating information about livelihoods,
healthcare, education, social and cultural issues and potential
Small, independently operated community television in rural villages
at reasonably low costs with participatory video is highly persuasive
and effective communication medium. However this is hardly available
Video makes it possible to:
overcome barriers of illiteracy
visually demonstrate new farming ideas and techniques
standardize information so that it is transmitted accurately from
technical sources to farmers
Video is will be an effective communication tool to increase awareness
about specific development problems and stimulate local discussion of
Rural people will prepare video presentation about community
development concerns in local languages. Editing will be done in the
camera and through immediate playback; video production results
will be quickly viewed. Presentation will even be shown in areas
without electricity using battery-powered monitors.
Challenges facing ICT access to Rural communities in Kenya.
ICT access to rural Communities faces numerous challenges, such a:
1. Low Population Density
The density of population in the rural areas is extremely low. In many
areas while there may well be a need for the value-added services, this
demand is simply not thought to be such that one can think of it as a
2. Low Income Levels
Most often those living in the more rural areas are at a very low
income level, at times only $1 a day. This is frequently at a
subsistence farming level where the ability to pay for these value-
added services is limited.
3. Lower Literacy Levels
The primary focus for delivering value-added services has tended to
focus on computer-based ICT services. As a result of relatively low
education and literacy levels, the potential users of more sophisticated
ICTs are limited. This also limits the ability to acquire local technical
skills to support the servicing of the equipments
4. Technology Limitations and High Costs of Delivery
The bulk of the focus has been in broadband solutions and specifically
fiber, cable, and DSL; all of which are primarily of value in high
density environments. More recently there has been a focus on
wireless technologies such as WiFi and now WiMAX but these have
been for either small coverage “hot spots” or for higher density areas.
While there continues to be improvements and price reductions in
these newer wireless technologies, the costs to deliver connectivity in
these situations to rural communities remain a great challenge. While
satellite technology does provide rural access, costs are typically quite
5. Restrictive ICT Policies
The starting point for expanding connectivity into the more rural
communities is a rather inefficient government policy infrastructure.
There have been attempts to a fully-liberalized telecommunications
marketplace with multiple private sector engagement. And even here
the focus is typically on serving the richer urban areas, with limited
attention on serving those in the more rural areas.
6. Limited Private Sector Engagement
The rural areas suffer from a potential lack of market, coupled with
few if any incentives for the private sector, to become involved.
However the opening up of the market for private sector firms to
operate in the telecommunications market do show some promising
7. Inadequate Delivery Models
Experience has proved that while the cyber café (located in a more
urban area) can generate sufficient revenues to be economically
sustainable, with few exceptions those located in the more rural areas
are typically only viable so long as donor funding continues to be
provided and subsidize the costs of running these centres.
8. Lack of Power Infrastructure.
Most rural areas lack electricity and for even those areas that are
connected, the power is unreliable .This is further compounded by the
high cost of connection to the National Grid.
Socio- economic impact of ICT
The expected socio- economic impact of the Information,
Communication and Technologies in rural communities includes:
Facilitating social change and economic activity
Bringing cost-benefits in rural social service delivery
Speeding up rural community related development activities
Promoting good governance and transparency.
Expanding networking infrastructure and access to services and
information in underserved and un-served areas
Strengthening rural economy by creating employment, income
and business opportunities.
Reducing bribery and corruption through the provision of e-
government services, fostering transparency and good
By- passing brokers and middlemen by offering alternative
providers to different services.
Promoting the use of ICT as a tool for education
Increasing rural household savings by reducing travel expenses
to government offices.
Nourishing rural entrepreneurship and a new generation of IT-
Promoting and improving faster dissemination of information
Improving agricultural practices and market information of farm
Broadening understanding of health issues and treatment
Reducing youth unemployment, rural poverty and illiteracy
Increasing exposure to employment opportunities by
empowering youths to become not only users but also creators
of local content and applications
Developing local capacity at the grassroots through the
utilization of information and communication technologies
Increasing the level of understanding of the ICT among the staff,
students and communities.
Developing and encouraging the culture of information both
within the centre and in the rural communities.
In conclusion, Information and Communication Technologies will
make information available at a reasonable cost and provide
innovative solutions to the problems of poverty and inequality by
accelerating development and introducing transparency into systems
Model for provision of ICT services to rural community
Computers and associated components alone will not have a high
impact unless associated with Internet, community radio and internet
Radio and Community Television as relays for online information.
Hence the need to adopt the multimedia centre model for provision of
ICT services in the rural areas.
The multimedia centre will provide a fusion of telecommunications,
Broadcasting & computing services so as to improve the capability to
meet the needs of the underserved and un-served rural community.
The centre will be a one-stop shop for the community’s
communication and information needs. They will consist of
Community Radio; Cable Television, internet accessibility, Telephone,
Fax, mobile services etc
The basic idea behind this model is to make maximum use of the
synergies between the radio, Television and internet components. The
advantage of this model is that it is highly cost-effective in the way it
maximises the use of resources (They will have all units sharing
premises, management and other structural arrangements.) and the
potential impact of ICT within the community.
The Community Multimedia Centre will also act as community
cultural centre so as to tap into community mobilisation and
ownership process and to benefit from the cultural approach to
development, which organizes development activities around events –
shows, gatherings, exhibitions and competitions and draws on the
traditional arts, crafts and creative skills of the community .
1. Deliver valuable ICT services to the community.
2. Create new jobs in the within the community and open and
drive community entrepreneurship and businesses
3. Facilitate community end users to make market informed
choices, reduce their transaction costs and enhance their socio-
economic activities and development.
4. serve as centre of technological innovation and product and
service development of value to un-served and underserved
The community multimedia centre’s target groups include the
Clinics, hospitals and healthcare workers
NGOs or CBOs
The Multimedia centre will be structured as a social for-profit
community cooperative franchise model with a high level of
community involvement in its decision-making processes, through a
The Community Multimedia Centre will function in many ways as
cooperatives, earning revenue and seeking to achieve financial
sustainability by balancing for-profit and not-for-profit activities. It
will offer some services free or at discretionary rates to students and
other particular groups within the community, according to
community needs and development priorities.
The Multimedia centre will adopt an integration of the following
business models so as to maximise on the synergy to generate
1. The advertising model
Radio and web advertising will be one of the main sources of revenue
generation. Web advertising will entail the provision of content and
services, e.g., email, chat, forums – mixed with advertising messages
in the form of banners. The centre will consider local advertising as a
significant source of income.
Community multimedia Centre will also create web databases
containing information about development issues in the area to
support NGO and even business campaigns, e.g., handicraft
production, local HIV/AIDS information and trends etc.
2. The community model
Revenue will be generated from the sale of ancillary products and
services and/or voluntary contributions.
3. The subscription model
Users will be charged a subsidized periodic fee to subscribe to some
services on a daily, monthly or annual basis.
4. The on-demand model
This will involve metering usage, or the pay-as-you-go approach on
some services. This will generate revenue based on actual usage rates.
PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIONS
Partnership with Government agencies, financial institutions, health
care providers, content providers, corporations and other entities that
look upon the rural regions as target market.
LOCATION OF A COMMUNITY MULTIMEDIA CENTRE
Sustainability will hinge on a centre’s visibility and accessibility to as
many users as possible, although the availability of electricity and/or
phone lines will also be factor.
A ready- made market is the most obvious advantage of sharing space
with an existing organisation such as a library, a business enterprise,
or a community social centre.
To reach the largest possible number of people in the community, it
will open for as long as possible- Opening hours from 7am to 8pm.
MULTIMEDIA CENTRE SERVICES
The community Multimedia centre will focus on a few priority services
at first and then gradually expand its focus as it develops.
Telephone calls (make calls, receive calls).
E-mail and Internet access -Send/receive e-mail, browse the web.
Desktop publishing: designing Newsletters, flyers, stationery,
business cards, tickets, circulars, pamphlets, logos and computer
artwork; personal web pages, constructing school or community
profiles, or creating project reports for schools or community projects.
Spreadsheets and databases: budgeting, bookkeeping, invoicing etc.
Graphic design: Assist with presentations, assignments, adverts
Printing: Laser printing and copying for promotional materials and
Scanning: Scan text or graphics (including photographs) for e-mail
or for printing.
Photocopying: School study material, circulars, newsletters, etc.
Binding: For professional presentation of documents and booklets.
Laminating: Protect documents, business cards, posters, by sealing
them in a durable clear plastic coating.
Fax communications: Send and receive documents to and from
anywhere in the country or the world.
ecretarial services: The multimedia centre will offer secretarial
Video conferencing: Two-way audio and video conferencing.
Video or still camera hire: Daily or weekly hire of photo/video
recording equipment for private, professional, business or community
Community multimedia centre staff will research client’s topic on the
Internet for study or business
A multimedia centre will act as an employment agency, and advertise
vacancies and staff availability. Government information, up-to-date
local and world news, market prices, trade opportunities and
classified advertisements will be made available online and also
printed out and fixed to the bulletin board outside the multimedia
Scheduled Programmes and Training
The following types of access will be provided:
Sending e-mails for people who are not computer literate, using the
community multimedia centre’s e-mail account.
Web browsing. This should include access to a tailored web site
guide to on-line resources for the local community.
Assisting local businesses, NGOs and public institutions to establish
a presence on the Internet.
E-mail to fax services. This can include very low-cost access to
international faxes via remote e-mail-fax gateways in the destination
Video conferencing and voice-over IP services
This will allow community members the opportunity to use computer
and Communications technologies to explore their own interests,
develop skills, and discover what the computers and other
technologies can do. Hourly or daily rates can be charged for this.
Open Lab Time
This is aimed at allowing students and the youth to practice what they
are learning. In addition to giving them an opportunity to learn skills
with basic computer applications, some will be able to explore subject-
area activities and the Internet. Once the students and the youth
understand basic computer skills, they will probably be interested in
learning how to use the Internet for research or for communicating
with other students and youth in other areas by e-mail. Hourly or
daily rates will be charged for this.
Computer Literacy Training Courses.
A multimedia centre will offer basic computer training on:
Basic word processing and office software
Computer hardware maintenance
Internet access and computer networking
Web site development.
Software and Technology training and maintenance centres will be
established to build capacity and transfer of technology to the local
Skills Acquisition and Job Preparation
Community multimedia centre will develop a partnership with
government departments, employment agencies, NGOs or service
organisation for job advertisements and job placements.
Job search activities will include how to compile a CV; job searching
skills and interviewing skills
Outsourcing of services
The community multimedia centre will seek to be hired or partner
with an organisation or business to perform a task on behalf of that
Entrepreneurship/ Business incubation
A member or former member of the centre may establish a business at
home or at another location or at the centre and the centre will offer to
make computers available on hire for accounting, tracking
information and services, invoicing, advertising, etc.
The centre will allow users to design fax sheets, produce brochures,
give technical assistance to establish a computer system and create
homepages on the Internet.
The youth will work with the centre in fulfilling business contracts,
learning business skills, and developing relationships with the
Community multimedia centre will avail networking opportunities for
students and teachers allowing them to communicate with their peers
The main objectives of school networking will be to:
facilitate connectivity in both primary and secondary schools
Build capacity for school teachers in the use and creation of
digital content and media tools for classrooms
Make the teachers and students network with their peers
The community multimedia centre will work in collaboration with
universities, colleges etc to offer online Learning Opportunities. This
includes extension courses through higher education institutions or
universities.( This will be done through Virtual community campuses)
Digital library will provide vast amounts of learning resources
(including proprietary textbooks and professional journals) that are
regularly updated and available at speeds much higher than the
Internet and not dependent on connectivity
Books and audio/visual cassettes for students, teachers and
researchers will be stocked.
Sale/Rental of products
Further income for the multimedia centre will be obtained from the
sale of products such as pens, stationery, camera film, rental of
videos, etc. A relationship with a supplier who will provide goods on a
‘sale-or-return’ basis could be established.
1).The development of a fully-functional community-based
telecommunications network that is built to serve the local demands
for voice communications;
2). A network that is IP-based and built on a combination of a WiFi
and/or WiMAX wireless technology infrastructure that provides the
community with a convergent network capable of supporting voice and
data service; with
3) A local VoIP-server providing low-cost flat-rate intra-community
voice access that in turn is augmented such that it is…
4) Supported by intra-community access through a range of trunk
lines which broaden the community-focused service by providing…
5) expanded inter-community voice services through centralized VoIP
gateways that connect to the PSTN as well as mobile systems, and
6) With data gateways, also provide full access to the Internet to the
Computer hardware and periphery equipments
Pentium 733 MHz CPU
64 MB RAM
10 GB hard drive
1 MB PCI video card
10/100 BaseT Ethernet port/card
Sound Blaster-compatible full duplex sound card
1.44 MB Diskette drive
Speakers AND headphones (to reduce noise)
UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) and a Surge Protector
The Local Area Network (LAN)
100 BaseT 16-port Ethernet hub (a 16-port hub will be used to allow
for easy expansion, especially given the small additional cost of 16
ports vs. 8 ports).
Wireless LANs based on the IEEE802.11 standard are also becoming
increasingly popular with the use of a small antenna as they allow
easy expansion and connectivity that can reach across to
neighbouring buildings without the use of any cabling.
The Bluetooth standard will be used to wirelessly connect devices in
an office environment.
Computer use management systems
To account and bill for access to the Internet and related services, the
centre will install Cyber-Time a software-only solution
Printers. There will be one a Colour-Laser Printer for every 8 to 10
computer systems, all linked together over the LAN (Local Area
Network) to provide professional printing services.
A modem is essential for Internet/data communications internal
modems, attempts to acquire external modems because of the rapid
changes in modem technology
A photocopier is also essential for the daily running of a multimedia
centre as photocopying facilities are generally in demand.
Integrated 4-in-1 fax/photocopier/printer/scanners can be used for
low-volume copying (1-10 copies) and a separate high-volume
photocopier can be used for larger runs.
Depending on the demand for copying and print production work, a
binding machine will be useful and can generate additional income.
With this equipment, centre can distribute photo-albums, videos and
music on CD-ROM, make back-ups, distribute web sites, save other
databases and make copies of CD-ROMs.
Flatbed scanners are the most popular.
Digital cameras will be used to take pictures and transferred into
documents or e-mail messages – the pictures are copied from the
camera to the PC.
Laminators will be acquired to laminate print-out.
3 screen TV sets will sufficient for tele-learning classes
VCR (video recorders)
Multimedia centre will acquire at least two VCR for dubbing services
(copying videotapes) and Tele-lessons for students.
The centres will start off with a small amount of additional software in
different categories and then expand as the needs of users become
nti-virus packages (Norton’s, Dr Solomon’s F-Prot)
Word processing packages (Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Microsoft
Works, Star Office)
Computer literacy training software (Mavis Typing Tutor, PC Tutor)
Basic English Literacy program
Desktop Publishing (Microsoft Publisher, Corel Draw, Aldus Page
Spreadsheets (Lotus 123, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Works)
Database (Microsoft Access, Microsoft Works, mySQL)
Accounting (MYOB, QuickBooks, MoneyDance.com)
Contacts and Organisations (Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Organiser)
E-mail program (Microsoft Outlook Express, Netscape, Eudora)
Presentations (Microsoft PowerPoint, Harvard Graphics)
Graphic Manipulation (Aldus Photostyler, Adobe Paintshop, Gimp,
Image Magick, Paint Shop Pro )
Kid’s Games (Castle Explorer, Ace Ventura, Where’s Wally?, Mutant
Penguins, Quest, Nemesis, Cricket, Golf, etc.)
Networking (Win2000, Wingate, Windows NT)
Web Browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera)
Web page authoring software (Front Page, Netscape Gold, Home Site,
Video/Audio Conferencing (Netmeeting)
Photo-editing (Adobe Photoshop)
Voice recognition software (Dragon Dictate/True Speech)
CD-ROM Databases (Encarta, Encyclopaedia Britannica, National
Utility software such as packaging applications (WinZip)
88-108 MHz in 200 KHz steps. Frequency is easily adjusted
with internal DIP switches. These units also feature phase
locked loop circuitry ensuring high frequency stability from -25
degrees Celsius through +45 degrees Celsius. Frequency
deviation is +/- 75 KHz; distortion >0.2%; RF Impedance 50
Ohms. Reflected power indicator and deactivation circuits
ensure no burnout of the unit.
Six Channel Audio Mixer
This compact mixer features a microphone input sensitivity of 1
mV; Line output sensitivity of 100 mV. The output level at 1
KOhm load = 1mV. The input overload on the microphone is
>250 mV. The line input is > 6 Volts. Distortion is < 0.5%. The
signal to noise ratio is > 55 dB. Frequency response is 20-20000
Hz +- 2 dB. The power requirement for operation of the mixer
are a minimum of 9 V DC and a maximum of 13.5 V DC.
Compact Disc/MP3 Players
The basic unit includes two MP3/CD compact disc players that
have a signal/noise ratio of 80 dB; WRMS<0.25%. The sampling
frequency is 44.1 KHz . These units feature a Digital/Audio 1 bit
converter as well as a semi-conductor laser pickup light source.
The pickup wave length is 790 nm. The laser output of the units
is 0.5 mW continuous.
Audio Cassette Recorders/Players
The SBS-1 includes two dual track monaural track system
recorders. Tape speed is 4.75 cm/s. It features AC Bias
recording system. Frequency response from 125 Hz-6.3 kHz is +
or - 6dB. The signal to noise ratio is -40 dB; WRMS<0.35%.
They are full play and record capable as well as having pause
and cue. A tape counter permits easy location of recorded
The unit contains a dynamic/unidirectional microphone with an
impedance of 500 Ohms. The sensitivity of the unit at 1 KHz is -
77dB(0dB=1V/microbar). The frequency response is 100 Hz to
10 KHz. It uses an XLR connector and has a flexible neck for
3 Television sets
2 DVD sets
THE TELEPHONE SYSTEM
Community multimedia centre will aim to have at least three lines to
start with – a voice line, a fax line, and a modem connection for the
The phone call accounting system will handle pre-payment or post-
payment options. A small PBX or software PBX running on the
computer server will be installed to provide for more than two or three
phone lines for customers.
The centres will be connected to the national power grid with back-up
facilities such as a generator or batteries and an inverter.
The electrical wiring will be earthed to minimise the impact of
lightning on equipment, but special lightning arrestors will be placed
on the PCs and telephone equipment in areas that experience
Because of the costs involved, the multimedia centre will ensure that
it has a technical expert as a member of the centre’s Steering
Committee and to draw on local trained technician for electrical
The lists of useful furniture include:
A sign on the door to the multimedia centre giving the name of the
centre and the opening hours.
A desk and chair for the reception staff.
Chairs or benches for people who are waiting to be assisted.
A large wall clock.
A bulletin board for notices of interest to users. Another bulletin
board might be put up on a sheltered wall on the outside of the
Specially designed computers stands having sliding shelves with the
shelf for the keyboard designed to ensure that it is kept at the proper
height for easy use.
The chairs will be comfortable and suitable for children and adults.
Filing cabinets and cupboards or shelves for software, supplies,
records of users and daily, weekly and monthly logs.
Bulletin board space for projects, presentations and displays.
Marketing is critically important for the development and
sustainability of the community multimedia centre and all steering
Committee members will contribute their ideas to the marketing plan.
A community multimedia centre’s on-going marketing plan is to
maintain visibility in the community to further promote the centre and
to continue to stimulate interest in the centre’s activities within the
The objectives of the multimedia centre marketing strategy include
To introduce itself to the community
oaden its participant base
nerate interest in its activities
Marketing will revolve around the community multimedia centre’s
noteworthy activities and accomplishments such as:
New Steering Committee members.
Creating centre web pages on the Internet.
Success stories of participants.
Feature articles on the Co-ordinator and special volunteers.
An article reviewing the community multimedia centre’s activities
over a period of time.
Any new sponsorships.
Any special attention received from government officials,
corporations, the media, or community organisations.
Designing a logo for the centre.
Developing a brochure for the centre.
Publishing a monthly newsletter about the centre.
The multimedia centre will publicise every activity and
accomplishment as widely as possible and turn them into news items.
The centre will use the following vehicles:
Billboards at the local shopping centre,
Speak to community groups.
Distribute a one-page promotional letter from the Steering
Advertise on the Internet.
In order to get increased exposure; various types of media such as:
Newspapers, school newsletters, church pamphlets, etc.
Television. The centre will need to keep track of programmes on the
public broadcaster as well as on private television stations.
Radio stations. This includes public and private radio stations. Talk
shows where the centre Co-ordinator or a member of the Management
Committee could be interviewed.
Publications produced by partners. The centre will produce regular
press releases for inclusion in newsletters, pamphlets and other
promotional material produced by partners.
bulletin boards. This will be a key place to advertise the
centre schedule, staff openings and special events.
Magazines. Monthly magazines published in the area.
The Steering committee will be responsible for guiding the whole
process of starting the multimedia centre and then, on a long-term
basis, for ensuring its continued success and development. The
Steering Committee will serve as the governing body.
The Steering Committee will consist of at least:
The multimedia centre organiser
Representatives from the broader community
Representatives from the local business sector
Representatives from the education community
One or more other professionals, preferably people with technology
expertise, experience in finance and marketing, and legal expertise.
Responsibilities of Steering Committee.
Set the directions, guidelines and strategies for the multimedia
Develop policies and procedures relating to membership, usage, data
collection, financial management and other operations.
Observe legal requirements.
Provide specialist advice.
Appoint the Management Committee.
A Management Committee
Management Committee will be involved in the day-to-day running of
the multimedia centre and will comprise of some members of the
Steering Committee, some multimedia centre staff members, and
others with special skills.
The Management Committee will be accountable to the Steering
Committee and appoint a Manager responsible for the Multimedia
Responsibilities of the Management Committee:
1. Legal responsibility to the multimedia centre
Develop the multimedia centre’s constitution and ensure that it is
adhered to; take responsibility for any agreements with partners and
ensure that the multimedia centre adheres to local and national laws.
2. An employer
This includes signing contracts with the manager or other staff
members; ensuring that tax deductions are made; negotiating
arrangements with medical institutions and provident fund schemes;
ensuring that safe working conditions are provided; ensuring that
staffs are treated fairly and in accordance with labour legislation.
3. Ensure safety to multimedia users
Provide safe conditions for public access to the multimedia centre;
maintain insurance policies on the multimedia centre’s building and
equipment; and take out other insurance coverage as required.
4. Provide for proper accounting processes
Ensure that there are proper accounting processes, annual budgets
are met and an annual audited statement is prepared. It must also
ensure that a cash flow chart is maintained by the multimedia centre
staff and that monthly, quarterly and annual financial report are
5. Ensure on-going evaluation and monitoring.
To make sure that that the multimedia centre continues to be
sustainable and provide for and anticipate the needs of the
community, there must be an on-going process of monitoring and
A MULTIMEDIA CENTRE MANAGER RESPONSIBILITIES.
The Manager will be from the community; somebody who understands
the community and can create favourable atmosphere in the
She/he takes responsibility for the day-to-day management of the
multimedia centre and will perform the following functions:
Apart from the multimedia centre manager who has been identified,
the Community will employ a security guard and a part-time cleaner.
After six months an additional assistant will be hired if the demand
for services justifies it.
CUSTOMER CARE SERVICE
A customer who is not satisfied with the service of the multimedia
centre may complain to the Manager.
complaints will be registered and reported to the Manager on a
If the customer does not receive the complete service that he or she
wants, he will not be allowed to pay. The customer expects the
services to be provided on a service guarantee basis.
If reasonable, customers will be compensated for the loss of service,
for example by giving them extra service, attention and assistance.
in such a way that the customer will return to
The multimedia centre will formulate and display a list of rules for
users and staff. The purpose of these rules is to ensure that every
user gets the full benefit of the centre and to protect the centre and
the users’ rights to use the centre equipment productively and
The multimedia centre’s rules will be displayed on signs in the
The multimedia centre membership clients will be given these sets of
rules to sign and agree to.
TRAINING OF STAFF
A structured orientation programme is important for any new staff.
Such a programme will include:
Introduction to the mission and goals of the multimedia centre.
Introduction to Steering Committee members, other agency staff or
any multimedia centre staff already on board
An opportunity to become familiar with the multimedia centre’s
resources - where things are kept, what software is available, what
procedures are in place.
For volunteers, the orientation will provide an opportunity to meet
with their supervisor to discuss their assignments, establish an
individual schedule, and review and sign the commitment letter.
Once new staff has been oriented, they may need specialised training
to carry out their functions. Technical training to operate the
equipment will be top of the list, but other important areas include:
customer relations, financial management, fundraising, how to train
users, Internet searching and information retrieval.
A training manual will be developed by the multimedia centre to
provide support for on-going staff training programmes.
ADMINISTRATION AND RECORD-KEEPING SYSTEM
Multimedia centre activities will generate a number of records that will
be monitored to determine further strategy in the provision of services,
pricing of services, etc. Transaction units and prices will be printed on
the bill and recorded in the system and monthly copies made off-site.
Fax, photocopier and computer printing activity units will be in pages,
the remainder will be hours or minutes with a varying rate for peak
and off-peak hours.
Externally supported services such as the provision of government
information in the form of print-outs on the bulletin board (such as
farm produce prices or land redistribution schemes) should be
recorded like other transactions, billed to a pre-paid account.
The multimedia centre accounts will be submitted to an independent
auditor at the end of each financial year.
STAFF, CUSTOMERS AND PROPERTY SAFETY
The services offered by a multimedia centre depend on the proper
functioning of valuable equipment, which cannot be easily replaced
because of the costs involved.
Hence it will be of utmost importance that equipment are well
maintained and kept secure from theft and damage.
Maintaining an Inventory
To be able to keep track of all the items in the multimedia centre, it
will be necessary to keep a list or database of all the pieces of
equipment, the software and the services used by the multimedia
When any item or special service is brought into or taken out of the
multimedia centre, a description, serial number (if any), and the date
and time should be noted and signed by a multimedia centre staff
member. This information will automatically be tracked in the case of
the normal sale or rental of goods.
An inventory of hardware will be maintained and it will include:
Details of all purchases and acquisitions with model numbers, serial
numbers, dates, sources, purchase prices or equipment value, and
A regularly updated inventory of the software will be made and
maintained. The list will include details of the version number of the
software; the date of purchase; the date of registration; the price; the
number of copies; and the location in the centre.
The inventory is important because:
It will help the centre to keep track of its software resources.
It will assist new staff and volunteers to get to know the range of
services offered by the centre.
It will serve as a guide for additional software to be purchased by the
The multimedia centre will open for a minimum of eight hours a day
for seven days a week. According to demand, the management will try
to open the multimedia centre from 7 am until 10 pm and may go to
24 hours a day if there is enough demand.
COMMUNICATION AND NETWORKING
There will be regular visits to and communication with other
multimedia centre to observe their operations and to learn from their
experiences. Exchange programmes with staff may be developed as
well as links with other development projects.
Contribution and Support
The community will provide the on-going management and premises
for the multimedia centre as well as labour for some of the physical
upgrading, such as painting.
Source and application of funds
Start-up costs: Capital equipment and support for premises upgrading
will be provided by donors
Income: Sale of services and advertising. The services are described
above. Services can be broken down into three major types: hourly
rental, unit sales and service minutes.
Hourly rentals will be applied to meeting space, TV, overhead
projector, cameras and other equipment, with a peak and off-peak
Unit sales will apply to products - fax pages, photocopy pages,
stationary and other physical goods as well as transactions such as
on-screen PC-based adverts, posting notices on the notice board on
behalf of a government department or other agency, and financial
Service minutes will apply to telephone calls, Internet access, video
Conferencing and also to ‘personal assistance time’ (PAT) - where the
customer requires the time of an operator to perform one of the
services. For example, when customers cannot fax or photocopy items
themselves, or search the web, the charge includes unit sales as well
as service minutes.
Application of income received: After covering costs of operations,
funds will be reserved for replacement of depreciated equipment,
expansion of services (more PCs, etc.) and contingencies.
Setting up community multimedia Centre without the rigor and
discipline of a self sustaining business model will attract people who
will not have incentive to make the centre grow or to expand its
service offerings. Most of them will have a false sense of assurance
that these projects are going to be funded forever by external agencies
PRINCIPLES FOR MULTIMEDIA CENTRE SUSTAINABILITY
Community participation will be the most important element for
making a multimedia centre successful and sustainable. Fostering
community participation in the design, establishment and continuous
improvement of a multimedia centre helps the community to develop a
sense of ownership and commitment to its successful operation.
Instilling a social vision
Each multimedia centre will be planned and established in a way that
integrates it with other spaces and communication activities that are
already operating successfully within the community such as
community organizations or schools.
The management of a community multimedia centre will reflect a
social vision of its activities and will use the technologies and tools
that are most appropriate for addressing local problems.
Long term strategies
Community multimedia centre will design and pursue long-term
survival strategies. For instance, if communication is a fundamental
right, then the sustainability of multimedia centre is an important
agent for guaranteeing the right to communication.
A sound business plan, stressing market knowledge, economical use
of resources and revenue generating capacity, will be critical for
running a multimedia centre.
However, the activities of a Community Multimedia centre will be
regarded as a social service, so that its development mission can be
sustained over time.
Social and cultural Context
The activities of a community Multimedia centre will take account of
the social and cultural context in which it operates, and respond
appropriately to that context so as to be lasting and viable. If people
in the community will feel themselves empowered by the community
multimedia centre, they will be more active in seeking ways to keep it
Men and women have different needs when it comes to Community
Multimedia centre, and different possibilities and interests with regard
to its use. Similarly, youth and adults have different expectations,
and running a community multimedia centre will come to terms with
these differences in context.
This is especially the case since digital technologies are changing so
swiftly, which means that equipment and programs rapidly become
The opportunities for training, staff exchanges and networking should
be provided for staff of CMCs who have similar responsibilities (radio
production, training, social mobilization).
Guidelines should be developed on appropriate uses of volunteers,
with sensitivity to expectations for recognition and compensation,
potential family conflicts particularly with young volunteers, ensuring
budget lines for incentives, and managing the cycle of new and
The CMC manager should be both entrepreneurial and development
A strong role for the CMCs in development programming, including
the preparation of appropriate local content and training materials,
and social mobilization through cooperatives/self help groups needs
to be promoted.
Good integration of the multimedia centre and radio functions must
be achieved and monitored.
The success of community multimedia centre is closely related to
speaking the language and culture of the community they serve,
building appropriate content relevant to community needs, and
facilitating a permanent process of democratic participation,
empowerment and appropriation of the communication process.
Cost and Revenue monitoring
Costs for start up for the centre will be monitored closely, and a full
cost account just for start-up expenses should be prepared.
DIMENSIONS OF SUSTAINABILITY
The critical issues in achieving institutional sustainability are:
1. Enabling legislation, regulation and policies
Where licences for community media centres exist, the critical issue is
that of community ownership and voice. If community media really
represent the community and become its voice then they also become
an instrument for establishing and strengthening the vision of a better
2. Internal democracy, training and participation
Internal democracy, training and participation in decision-making,
programming, development of content, management and
accountability are essential. The transparency of the management, the
spirit of camaraderie and solidarity among workers, a permanent
dialogue in the process of building programmes together and
acquiring new skills to serve the community better are all important
3. Appropriate and democratic structure, management and
There can be no institutional sustainability unless there is an effective
board of governors, steering committee, or core user groups and
unless these are representative, accountable and renewed regularly.
There must be clear and appropriate division of responsibilities within
the organisational structure.
4. Networking and convergence
Networks can spread the total investment and costs, pool expertise,
share good and bad practices. The multimedia centre projects that
are associated with community development programmes have more
opportunities of success than those operating in isolation.
5. Local institutions and businesses
Local institutions and organisations can support community media if
they find it is useful for development. Local Government agencies,
NGOs, cooperatives, civil societies and international agencies that
contribute in education, agriculture, human rights, or health related
programmes may find it very useful to have an alliance with
multimedia centre for creating and distributing programming content
relevant to their activities. Support from local businesses is also very
important to Community Multimedia Centres.
Social and Cultural Sustainability
Multimedia centre will take account of the social and cultural context
in which it operates and will respond appropriately to that context.
If people in the community will be empowered by the centre, they will
be more active in seeking ways to keep it running.
The centre will fully integrate all the stakeholders in the community
and the specific needs of the community in its planning and
Sustainability of Infrastructure and Equipment
Infrastructure is the core of multimedia centre operations.
Multimedia centre infrastructure is the nerve of its services therefore
must be reliable and effective at all times.
Stability of services greatly accounts for consumer confidence and
results in a health revenue stream. The opposite is true; interrupted
services will hurt the reputation of the multimedia centre and affect
the revenue stream as well.
In establishing infrastructure there will be need to carefully choose
the type of infrastructure and equipment considering the lowest cost
and simplest maintenance requirements possible
Community multimedia centre also need to develop technical capacity
to operate communication equipment to maintain a stable service.
They need at least basic capacity for troubleshooting and risk
reduction otherwise they could get stranded for hours over small
machine errors and software malfunctioning that do not necessarily
require an expert.
Another important element is identification of the best media for
delivery of information and communication for the target community.
Negligence of the locally preferred communication channels slows
down the process of development and reduces the impact that would
have accrued from the multimedia centre investment.
Sustainability of Services and Service Relevancy
Appropriate content, training and other community development
support services will be carefully developed.
Creation of content or repackaging of information will be a continuous
process. The Community multimedia centres have to keep reinventing
themselves so as to remain at the centre of the community they serve
.They have to anticipate trends in usage of ICT create services and
‘cultivate’ customers. Technologies must be used as a facilitator in
this endeavour. In fact if customers so created are not serviced
through continuous improvement of strategy and quality, they will
soon be up for grabs by a competitor.
Relevancy of services will include availing opportunities for assisted
access and use of services for those who need help or have never used
the service before. Community multimedia centre staff will assist
users seeking their services and make them interested in using such
services again or even interest them in others they have never thought
One prime service will be established in which to anchor the centre’s
operation and development. This will be the most popular and
relevant service to the community and easiest for the community to
identify with. It will keep a close look at shifting demand and user
partners as a general barometer of how much the multimedia centre
Sustainability of Human Resource
The quality of staff will be critical in maintaining the clientele loyalty
of and therefore a health revenues stream arising from paid for traffic
Quality of staff will be reflected in, but not limited to knowledge and
skills in the use of ICT, interest to learn new skills, marketing and
creating tailor made programs, flexibility and teamwork. The staff
team will be able to enlist support and cooperation from the
A staff team with a vision in ICTs and community development and a
drive to learn is the best option
The personality, creativity and endurance of the manager will be
central to total productivity of the staff team, in addition to staff
preparedness to respond to information, communication and learning
demands of the community.
Local capacity must be deliberately developed to that effect. This will
make it easy for efforts of solving relevancy of services, marketing of
services and mobilization of partnership funding among others.
Financial sustainability is a condition when revenue of the Multimedia
centre is greater than Community multimedia centre expenditures.
To achieve this highly desired state
1. It will behave more like a private enterprise in its administration
and setting of goals.
2. It will rely on demand –driven approaches by starting with basic
services and increasing their service offering in response to the
demand of the local market.( it will identify, develop and offer
3. There will be diversification of services and therefore
development opportunities and revenue
4. It will be guided by a sound business plan and a long term
social and business strategy to ensure survival.
5. The staff of the Community multimedia centres will deal with
competition in the provision of ICT services by defining a unique
service profile that makes them stand out the competition.
6. The multimedia centre will balance the challenges of community
development responsibility, sustainability and making enough
profits to pay for the operation to ensure harmony between
these competing challenges.
COMMUNITY MULTIMEDIA CENTRE EVALUTION
Evaluation is both accountability and a learning exercise aimed at
1. Whether the initiative met its stated goals and objectives?
2. Whether something can be learned that will improve the design,
implementation and results of future CMCs that are planned.
3. How communities can advance their own sustainable development,
• Increased social participation
• Increased access to information and communications technologies of
volunteers to ensure transfer of knowledge
The community itself will be involved in indicator selection. If the
community chooses the indicators that are most important to it, then
the community will be more likely to monitor its performance against
In the rapid results programme more attention needs to be paid to
strategic timeframes for initiatives, with benchmarks to assess the
value of the initiatives.