UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT is a section where we share inspiring stories of Telecentre.org members and partners through brief interviews. In this article, we feature Mr Atiga Atef, the manager of Telecentre Bechni in Kebili, Tunisia.
TCF: Can you tell us briefly how you became a telecentre manager? How long have you been serving as a telecentre manager?
Atef: All telecentres in Tunisia are working under the umbrella of Tunisian Solidarity Federation, and I have been seconded to work as manager of Telecentre Bechni from 2012 till now. I have a degree in ICT, Networks and Media.
TCF: What are the major challenges you have so far encountered in running your telecentre?
Atef: Major challenges I have so far encountered include lack of resources especially financial resources. We also have special situation such that we are in a place with a dry climate, we don’t have air conditioning system, and this poses a risk on computers. This is probably one of the most important challenges we are facing. Aside from that, we only have a limited number of computers and low speed Internet.
TCF: What valuable experiences and lessons have you gained from your role as telecentre manager?
Atef: Through my work at the telecentre, I gained more experience especially in organizing workshops, training people on the use of ICTs, working with a diverse group of people, and assisting researchers.
TCF: What do you consider as your greatest achievement as telecentre manager?
Atef: I think we were able to make the Internet and ICTs capture the interest of our community members to help bridge the digital gap between us and rest of world.
TCF: What are the rewards of being a telecentre manager? What motivates and inspires you to keep doing what you are doing for your telecentre and the community you serve?
Atef: One of the rewards of being a manger of Telecentre Bechni on a personal level is the wealth of new experiences I gained in performing my work, new experience in terms of training skills and knowledge. What inspires me is the positive feeling that I’m active in my community and able to help people to improve their living conditions. That give me a lot of satisfaction.
Atef: Our telecentre was able to achieve the following:
- Train a lot of people on how to use ICTs and gain computer skills
- Help telecentre users start their own business
- Organize workshops and awareness seminars on health and agriculture to increase community awareness of these topics
TCF: What impact has your telecentre made to the community you serve? How has it affected the lives of the people in your community? Cite a specific success story on how your telecentre has touched the life of a community member and share some photos, if available.
Atef: Telecentre Bechni has made good impact on its target audience, so ICT became an integral part of the people’s daily lives. Now it is difficult to find someone who doesn’t have email or a social network account. These things have now become part of life.
One success story I can share is that of Mubark Friegh. He has his own business in the field of beekeeping. After he came to Telecentre Bechni to get training on the basics of using a computer and the Internet, he worked on obtaining information pertaining to his project, and this proved very useful to him in planning and implementing his project properly.
On the side, he took some courses on how to obtain funding for projects, and he was able to get some funds from Tunisian Solidarity Federation. These funds enabled him to start his project, and now we are supporting him to market his products online through social networks.
You may watch our video interview with him (in Arabic) here.
TCF: As telecentre manager, what are your future plans for your telecentre? What else would you like to achieve?
Atef: Our goal in the future is we aim to train a bigger number of people and help them obtain knowledge on how to use computers and ICTs. We also hope to get more support for our telecentre in terms of upgrading our computers and facilities.
TCF: What changes or improvements would you like to see in your community? What role would your telecentre play in bringing about that change?
Atef: Our main goal is to make ICT available to the entire community and our telecentre is looking forward to promote and disseminate ICT and digital culture in the community. We are also hoping that ICT can contribute in solving our community’s unemployment problems. We hope that it can raise and improve the academic level of students and that through ICT, we can help farmers find new markerts for their products as well as help empower women in rural areas.
TCF: It is great to know about your experience as telecentre manager. Thank you very much for making time for this interview.
Special thanks to Ahmed Shaban for facilitating the interview.