We examine the extent to which user-based subsidies can promote the financial/social sustainability and development impact of telecenters. We do this by looking at a coupon scheme used by the USAID funded eCenter network in Kyrgyzstan. We found that user-based subsidies have, to a certain degree, aided financial sustainability by bringing new users to the center. However, the distribution of the coupons did not improve social sustainability since, for instance, the process favored more regular users of the eCenters. Finally, the coupon program had a limited development impact on participating communities. We argue that, if the eCenters had narrowly targeted particular participants for the coupon programs, it is likely that the benefits of the program could have been enhanced. A method of incentivizing eCenter management to perform such targeting is probably required.
Telecenters; eCenter Project in Kyrgyzstan; user-based subsidies; social sustainability