Community Information Centers in Azerbaijan Stand on Their Own
Across Azerbaijan there are 19 Community Information Centers newly graduated from United States government support to being fully operated by local NGOs. Although Internet access in Azerbaijan is growing, Internet services, particularly in the regions, remain expensive and much of the country’s Internet usage takes place in Internet clubs or at the workplace. To help bridge the gap, IREX, with support from USAID, partnered with local organizations and equipped 19 centers with computers, internet access and Wi-Fi spots. The centers offer courses and internet access to users, free of charge.
The program developed the capacity of the local partners to sustainably operate those community centers. On their own the centers will offer similar services, some of which will be on a paid basis. The list includes basic computer and internet courses; language courses; digital media training; education abroad consultancy services; Website design; venue rental; E-government services and support; a CV database for local business communities; book-keeping training; hardware and software maintenance.
“USAID is proud that our local partners have developed enough to take ownership of these centers and continue to provide services for their communities.” said Michael Greene, USAID/Azerbaijan Mission Director.
In the past three months, over 27,000 people visited Information Centers and over 100 round-tables were held in their premises. At the same time, up to 100 people participate in ongoing basic and advanced computers and internet courses.
“The majority of the centers’ clients are young women, who say they feel safe and at ease there, and enjoy the friendly environment, where they can learn and develop their interests. IREX is delighted the project is bringing increased access to media and technology with this women’s empowerment benefit. But above all we are most pleased to see our committment to building the capacity of local partners reach this major milestone.” said Angela Nicoara, Chief of Party, IREX.
IREX administers the Azerbaijan New Media Project funded by USAID.