Public Access ICT in Turkey

Public Access ICT in Turkey

Ibrahim Kushchu (Mobile Government Consortium International, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-771-5.ch035
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Executive Summary

The Republic of Turkey is a modern, dynamic country in southwestern Asia with a broad-based, healthy economy that supports a population of just over 70 million. The country spans 780,500 sq km (slightly larger than Texas) and is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. The land is mostly mountainous with a narrow coastal plain and a central high plateau. The climate is temperate and more than 53% of the land is said to be arable.

Turkey is governed as a parliamentary democracy with a strong tradition of secularism. The president is elected to a five-year term and is the head of state. A unicameral legislative body seats 550 representatives.

In 2007, the GDP exceeded US$400 million, derived primarily from a robust international trade in agricultural products and mineral resources. While Turkey has some light industry and tourist income, most of its revenue stream is based on oil and natural gas production, as well as gold, copper, coal, and numerous other minerals.

Turkey moved towards a market-based economy in the 1980s, but in the 1990s, the country experienced rapid growth and also faced financial crises and economic recessions. After 2001, the economy began to recover and employment increased. The Turkish economy now shows a strong and stable growth with notable foreign investments due to improvements in the banking, retail, and telecommunication sectors.

The interest in information and communication technologies (ICTs) in Turkey began in the early 1980s, but with the spread of the Internet, that interest accelerated in the business world, which led individuals to use computers in the cybercafés, as well as to own computers. The government has prioritized ICTs in education, in businesses, and the public sector, and encourages capacity building among the population. Although there are regional and socio-economic differences in adopting ICTs, the general trend seems to be positive and moving forward.

Turkey was selected to participate in this international study to assess the ability of the public to access information and communication venues, and also to review the role of ICTs across the overall economic, political, and regulatory framework. The researchers assessed how the venues function, how they serve user needs, how they meet operational constraints, how they realize successes, and how they meet the needs of underserved communities and groups.

The study was intended to investigate issues related to the Public Internet Access Centers (PIACs), which were created when the Turkish eTransformation action plan was launched a couple of years before this study was initiated. The plan called for opening 4,500 PIACS with each one having 20 computers, a projector, a laser printer, a multi-media library, and a trainer on staff. The purpose of the PIACs was to offer free access to public information and to train the public on basic computer, language, and vocational skills. Each center grants a certificate to those who successfully complete the courses. Just over half of the planned PIACs at these venues have been launched.

The objective of this present study was to examine the services, facilities, and technologies at these venues and to provide a context for their effectiveness, especially as they are able to meet the needs of the underserved communities and groups.

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