Thursday, December 6, 2012

D-14 days... Telecenters

When I first heard this world I pictured big buildings will agents taking calls like in a call center back home. Often when we asked for people’s cell phone numbers they gave it to us without missing the beat, but they also added that they might not be available when we called. I didn't quite understand it until I stopped by one Telecenter and asked all my questions.

Here (I am careful and try not to generalize too much, but as a matter of fact I observed the same phenomenal in Guinea, Salone, Togo, Benin and Ghana) many people don’t know how to read or write, have no steady income, yet EVERYBODY has a cell phone! Correction, everybody has a cell phone number or two! :)

As it turns out Telecenters are tiny shacks with a private generator. People either take their phones there to charge (costs about 20 cents for a 30 min charge, $1 for a full charge) OR they can use the various cell phones available there when they need to make a call. They can buy top up cards (anything between 20 cents and $15) and for a small fee use one of the cell phones in the 'store'.

The Telecenter guy has charger for the main cell phone makers. No, no smart phones and definitely no iPhone charger. Try to think back 10-15 years, which models and companies were popular back then? If you bring a phone he has no charger for, no problem. Following good African traditions he will make one. It might destroy your phone on the long run, but hey, he isn't working under warranty! :)

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