KILOSA RURAL SERVICES LAUNCHES WEBSITE

Digital Content

Kilosa Rural Services announced today that it has launched its website for the first rural cybercafe/telecentre in Tanzania. The website - www.kilosaruralservices.com - is designed to inform tourists, backpackers and development workers about the availability of affordable and high-quality broadband Internet services and general computer services in Kilosa Town, Morogoro District.

Known locally as "Farahan's Rombo", Kilosa Rural Services has been operating since January 2004 using an AfSat VSAT terminal and Celtel telephony services. The service was formed to address local demands from agricultural producers and entrepreneurs for improved communication and marketing. According to manager Mark Farahani, future services are planned, including a web-based tourism information site for Kilosa District, a Kilosa Farmers' News Service with agricultural extension and market information, and an information support service for local entrepreneurs.

"Kilosa District has a wide range of naturally beautiful areas, particularly the Vidunda Village Falls, mountain vistas, rolling hills, natural foot paths and colonial reserved areas," said Farahani. "Part of our plan is to put Kilosa on the map so that the community can generate revenue from community-based ecotourism. Our website is the first step in that direction."

"Kilosa Rural Services is an example of how people in Tanzania are re-inventing their roles and responsibilities related to trends to decentralize and privatize agricultural services and other social services," said shareholder Clive Lightfoot of the International Support Group, an international, non-profit, professional association sharing a common interest in learning approaches to development. "This innovative rural business is helping us learn more about the realities rural communication services driven by the private sector."

"Fundamentally, potential rural cybercafe/telecentre operators need access to capital to grow and expand their businesses," said shareholder Don Richardson of Canada's TeleCommons Development Group. "We're not interested in providing grants for 'feel-good' telecentre concepts that can't be sustained. In Kilosa, we're working with a smart rural entrepreneur who came to us with a solid business plan and good local market knowledge. We encourage others to replicate this business model in other rural locations in Africa."

Services include telephone, voice over IP telephony, web surfing, fax, photocopies, word processing, desktop publishing, secretarial services, Internet and computer training, digital photography, and scanning. Given the rough rural roads in the area, Kilosa Rural Services' motto is, "it's worth the drive to Kilosa!"