Sunday, November 13, 2005

Rural Kiosks model to spread internet in Rural India

According to this news: Ltd, plans to deliver the government and other services to villagers through ICTs. They rely on the enterprise of local entrepreneurs supported by a central organisation and ICT infrastructure. Improving services to villages and increasing the economic viability of rural entrepreneurship through proprietary arrangements with the governments to provide services at lower than government costs are some of the stated aims. Its basic objective is to sensitise and promote the usage of ICT kiosks among users and the outside stakeholders. It advocates the need of basic accountability, timely reporting and spreading general awareness about new economy.

It has two roles: to expand and build the network and to sell services through the kiosks which it sets up. A kiosk is a multi-point service delivery channel in a village. The kiosk operator provides different kinds of services to villagers like computer education, insurance, digital photo studio and the Internet-based services. The kiosk is equipped with a computer, a digital camera and a photo printer. This project is in partnership with ICICI, Microsoft, Amaron. Advantage to ICICI is that it can offer financial products and services such as loans, investments and insurance through these kiosks.
I think, this project has a huge potential if the model is properly implemented. This is very similar to governments knowledge centre concept (or Abdul Kalam's PURA). However, as there is a wonderful business, so govt's role should be limited to service provider. I mean, Govt services should become add-ons to the total project. Govt should invest in educational issues, family planning, similar social issues. But it should not focus on setting-up the infrastructure. Otherwise, whole efficiency of this project may become a question. I am very happy that once ignored market of rural India is now a hot market and this fact has been realised by truly global players. So now changes will be rapid.

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