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iREACH: lessons from a community owned ICT network in Cambodia.

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Abstract

Cambodia is for various reasons a challenging environment for ICT development. This did not deter IDRC (Canada) from funding an ambitious and ground-breaking project designed ultimately to influence ICT policy in Cambodia but initially to establish two pilot community-owned networks in poor rural areas. Each comprises both a cluster of local telecentres (10 in each area), and a mini telecoms enterprise run by the communities. Begun in May 2006, with initial funding of USD1.3 million the project runs to May 2010 when the question of sustainability comes to the fore. Additional support is likely to be needed. iREACH’ experiences are being fully documented and lessons are emerging around community capacity building and empowerment; technical challenges in a rural environment; developing relevant and appropriate services; creating a community based enterprise; deploying a range of participatory monitoring and evaluation approaches; and working within a centralised and fluid political context.

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