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Regional Information Centers (RICs)
Institution: Government of Azerbaijan
Theme: Information Access, Citizens’ Service Delivery
Implementation Date: Jan 01, 2004
Summary: Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are playing an increasingly important role in Azerbaijan’s social, economic and political development. At the present time, the ICT sector is one of the most rapidly developing in the country, and is receiving growing attention from a number of national and international institutions.

Considering the nature and diffusion of ICTs, the Government of Azerbaijan and UNDP are currently establishing a number of Regional Information Centers (RICs) throughout the country, so as to ensure a more widespread and equitable access to information and communication services. The Regional Information Centers are shared facilities providing access to the Internet and ICT-enabled services, with the aim of promoting local and regional development. Their potential for fighting against the marginalization of rural or otherwise disadvantaged areas, by fostering the dissemination and creation of relevant information and knowledge, is widely recognized.

The rationale for the establishment of these facilities in the Azerbaijani context is twofold. On the one hand, Regional Information Centers are seen as an effective way to provide valuable information services to a larger segment of the population, and to increase the general level of awareness of information and communication technologies. On the other hand, RICs are expected to have a positive social and economic impact on the communities they serve, through the development of new skills and capacities.
Impact: During the first operational phase of the RICs a strong emphasis has been placed on the provision of educational services, believing that training opportunities are relevant for promoting local development. Moreover, in order to address the problem of services’ access the trainings offered targeted the increase of the general level of computer literacy. All the training courses provided were developed in Azeri and were based on the standards of the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). Services were being provided at no cost, and free of charge for the first year of operation at least. Overall, services offered by the newly established facilities appeared to be greatly appreciated by the local communities. In Ali-Bayramli (one of the RICs) more than 160 applications for computer training courses were received, for a limited number of places available. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly at this stage, support provided by the staff appeared to be effective and professionally delivered. Regional Information Centers are a relatively new institution in Azerbaijan, and given their potential to advance the country’s overall development, the Government, with the support of the UNDP, is currently working on the refining and the operationalization of their exact role as a development tool.
Source: http://www.ejisdc.org/ojs/
Project Home URL: http://www.un-az.org/undp/ict/regtarc.php

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