Wireless Africa, Kickoff workshop
Published: 27 Jun 2008How do we make Community Owned Information Networks work for the poor?
During the last couple of years, a number of Community Wireless Networks have been deployed across Africa. They have mainly been established with help of donor funds, with the intention of being self-sustainable after the project's end. Many of these networks are facing problems with sustainability caused by low level of scalability, lack of technical skills, limited client base, and lack of entrepreneurship.
The research focus of Wireless Africa is to support community based operators to roll out their networks in ways that are financially sustainable and technically appropriate. The initiative is keen to explore new network approaches based on Open Source Software and Open Hardware plus innovative business models and services.
The main technology focus will be on low cost wireless devices, easy to setup Voice-over-IP systems, bandwidth management and billing systems.
During the kick-off workshop held in Pretoria, 25-27 of June 2008, 15 country partners were invited to present their community networks. Representatives from Morocco, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola participated in the three day long workshop.
During the workshop, three partners were selected to take part of first phase of research and implementation. The partners were selected based on their readiness in terms of local research capacity, technical skills and entrepreneurial skills.
The selected partners are the Community Wireless Resource Centre (Uganda), Fantsuam Foundation (Nigeria) and oneVillage Foundation (Ghana).