RITI dot-Gov has, through a dialogue with ANRC, selected the following four communes to respectively host a telecentre within the framework of the RITI dot-Gov Pilot Project on TeleCentres. These are:
· Frecatei - Braila County
· Balaşeşti- Galati County
· Iana - Vaslui County
· Rebricea- Vaslui County
In addition, Coroiesti, Vaslui County, has been informed that although the commune was not selected for the pilot project as such, RITI dot-Gov nevertheless intends to set up a centre also there in light of the significant need for a centre demonstrated by the representatives of the commune during the visit by RITI dot-Gov.
Some more sites in other parts of Romania will also be selected, in co-operation with the World Bank, Romania.
The centres will be established in the selected communes under the condition that the respective commune commits in writing to RITI dot-Gov to provide and finance the necessary locality and the staff needed for the administration and running of the centre. The first written confirmation came by fax very shortly after the information was given to the Mayor.
The following criteria were primarily taken into consideration when selecting the communes:
· Present available telecom services in relation to estimated need
· The number of inhabitants
· The number of schools and pupils
· The number of villages in the commune and the communication facilities between these villages.
In selecting the sites, RITI dot-Gov wants to combine several aspects, such as meeting a significant need of improved communication facilities but also getting efficient test cases where different solutions can be tested. The level of commitment expressed by the representatives of the commune also influenced the choice.
A brief description of the selected communes
1. Frecatei - Braila County
The commune is one of two on the Braila Big Island. The commune consists of 5 villages, spread over a large area. The distance between the centre of the commune and the most remote village is 15 km. The whole commune has 557 households and 1470 inhabitants. The communication with and within the commune is very difficult. The road from Braila to Frecatei crossing the Island is very bad. There is a very small ferryboat (only for 1 car) to cross the Danube directly to the commune, but just a few people know it and there is no strict schedule.
There is only one fixed line phone, connected to a manual switch, and that phone is located at the Mayor’s office. A few persons have mobile phones but with coverage only on top of a nearby dike.
Two recreation/tourist areas are being planned, one in the north- Blasova Lake, which already has some lodging facilities and a restaurant- and the Zatan Lake in the south, having so far no facilities but several investors have expressed their interest to invest. Clearly, improved communication facilities would strongly enhance the possibilities for these tourist activities to be developed.
The Telecenter idea was applauded by the Mayor and the full involvement by the commune in providing location for and staff to run the Telecenter was expressed.
2. Balaşeşti- Galati
The commune is composed of 4 villages with in total 2565 inhabitants. The commune was one of the last in the Galati County which was connected to a digital switch. Today there are 240 subscribers, but there are more then 80 requests still pending. However, at present the switch has no spare capacity for additional subscribers.
There are in total 8 public pay phones in the commune and prepaid cards can be found at the Post Office. The major part of the population is poor and works in agriculture, but they do not produce more than they need for their own consumption. The Mayor appreciated very much the Telecenter idea and directly started to think about a good location for the centre.
3. Iana - Vaslui County
The commune has 5 villages with 3950 inhabitants and 1391 households. There are 5 schools with 780 pupils, but the number of pupils will increase significantly up to around 900 in the next years. The population is very poor and is occupied mainly with agriculture. This year there have been almost 500 requests for social help from the inhabitants.
There are only 4 telephones in the commune, all of them placed in the public institutions and 2 public pay phones. There is a fax in the Mayor’s office. There are no efficient communication possibilities between the different villages. The public pay phones are much used.
The Mayor was very interested in the telecentre idea and directly confirmed that his commune would provide the requested support.
4. Rebricea- Vaslui County
Rebricea is located in the northern part of Vaslui County and comprises of 9 villages, the most remote being 7 kilometres away from the main village in the commune. The commune has 4150 inhabitants and 1400 households. There are 8 schools in the village with 360 pupils and 34 teachers. The communication facilities are very bad. Four fixed phones are available and all four are located in the public institutions – the Mayor’s office, Police station, and the Human and Veterinary Health centres. There are also 4 public pay phones available in the commune, but only in 2 of the villages. In other words, 7 villages have no communication possibilities at all.
Various attempts have been supported by the local community to provide telephone services. Last year they raised 453 requests from the population for fixed phones, although the need for communications services is higher than that. But so far no new lines have been installed.
The Mayor emphasised that many families in the commune have relatives living in other parts of Romania or abroad. These relatives have presently no possibilities to contact their families in the commune. The few existing public payphones can not be used for incoming calls. This problem is of course shared by all the other communes a swell.
The Mayor also pointed out that through improved communication services, it would be possible for many inhabitants to get access also to medical services, something which so far is impossible for many of them. The Mayor strongly supported the Telecenter initiative and offered the necessary commitment by the commune.
In addition, the following commune was informed that a telecentre will be established, although not directly as part of the pilot project.
Coroieşti – Vaslui County
The commune is formed by 7 small villages that have 3-400 inhabitants each. There are only telephone lines to the public institutions. In addition, 3 public pay phones are available for the population in the commune. The road that connects the different villages is very bad and can frequently not be used during wintertime. The 6 schools in the commune have 568 children enrolled. There are only 2 unqualified nurses that provide medical care for the whole commune.
Out of the communes in Vaslui county that were considered for selection, this one has the smallest population, that being one reason why it was not selected. However, in light of the significant need of improved communication facilities, RITI dot-Gov has decided to make an effort to establish a centre also here. It will be treated as any other centre within the pilot project but we will give priority to the others.