This paper aims to assess the usage pattern of telecentres, how rural women frame telecentres and barriers that limit use of telecentres. Further, the study examined the effects of demographic characteristics and location on telecentre usage.Design/methodology/approachThe study used a sequential mixed research design in three rural districts surrounding telecentres: Kongwa, Sengerema and Kilosa districts. The study population comprised rural women who were users and non-users of telecentres. The study conducted six focus group discussions (FGDs) with 37 users and six FGDs with 36 non-users in the first phase of the study in 2014; questionnaires were administered to 90 users and 90 non-users in the second phase of the study in 2015.FindingsThe primary use of telecentres among users was to access internet (71.4 per cent, n = 60), followed by information and communication technology (ICT) training courses (63.1 per cent, n = 53) and secretarial purposes (63.1 per cent, n = 53). Rural women used internet for educational purposes, followed by news, information on health issues, job opportunities, social and entertainment issues. Rural women currently using internet were more likely to be better educated (ß = 1.926, p = 0.001) and have higher incomes (ß = 5.318, p = 0.021) at both bivariate and multivariate analysis. Users indicated that they faced the following barriers towards using telecentre: short duration of ICT training, frequent power outages, low speed of internet and few computers at the telecentres. Non-users were not using telecentres because of lack of ICT skills and language barriers.Originality/valueThis study provides empirical evidence to telecentres, libraries and other rural ICT initiatives to design rural ICT services that are gender-sensitive and demand-driven.
Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 8, 2019
Keywords: Africa; Tanzania; Information and communication technology; Rural women; Telecentre