Mfangano Island now has a 1Mbps Internet connection. For those of you reading this over a high-speed cable, DSL, or fiber connection in a developed country this may not sound terribly impressive. However, when you consider the four major challenges we had to overcome to bring this meg of data to a remote island nestled at the mouth of Winam Gulf in Lake Victoria, you might think again as to the level of this accomplishment.
A small local NGO that had never before worked in the telecom space had to figure out how to design and build a tower that could be welded by local craftsmen to tight technical specifications. The tower they built supports one end of a 90km wireless link (60% of which is over water), pushing the limits of long-distance WiFi’s capabilities. The whole operation is powered by a hybrid solar/wind electrical system, because no other power is available at the tower site.
Finally, every single piece of equipment required to put this all together had to be ferried to the island in a small wooden boat and hand carried up a grueling two hour hike.
More on the inveneo.org site.
Real help for Africans
We’ve seen how governments and agencies are willing to spend billions of taxpayers dollars to fund the dumping of obsolete “AIDS drugs” on the African continent. Bill Gates, who has been moving his vast fortune out of software and into a portfolio pharmaceutical companies before the bottom falls out of Microsoft, is a huge booster for testing experimental drugs on Africans.
While these ghouls “give” billions as part of a mission to turn Africa into a colony of the pharmaceutical industry, PlayPumps has a better idea. Why not make it easy for rural Africans to get access to clean water? As demonstrated in the West not much more than 100 years ago, when clean water is made available to a population, they become healthier and their life span and productivity increases.
This technology is ingenious and it demonstrates how easy it is to solve the real problems of the world – if the “philanthropists” actually care about helping.
For more info on this brilliant initiative:
Thanks to http://www.brasschecktv.com/
Tablet test: Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop Per Child, describes experiments involving children in Ethiopia at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference.
With 100 million first-grade-aged children worldwide having no access to schooling, the One Laptop Per Child organization is trying something new in two remote Ethiopian villages—simply dropping off tablet computers with preloaded programs and seeing what happens.
The goal: to see if illiterate kids with no previous exposure to written words can learn how to read all by themselves, by experimenting with the tablet and its preloaded alphabet-training games, e-books, movies, cartoons, paintings, and other programs.
Early observations are encouraging, said Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC’s founder, at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference last week.
Read more at technologyreview.com
Posted by Elena Martin.
From Steve Kwan via Creative Commons
Sugatra Mitra installed a computer in a hole in a wall on a street in Kaljaki, New Delhi to see how effectively children could teach themselves technology as part of what would become his Hole-in-the-Wall Project. The computer had a cover to protect it from the elements, an opening for the kids’ hands to reach the keyboard, cable internet, and a webcam to track the progress.
Left alone and with no incentives or instruction, over three hundred children were able to go from never having touched a computer to tech whizzes. With these initial results, Mitra expanded the project to 23 more sites and was able to show that children across India were able to reach technological literacy at the same rate, independent of their location or economic status. Mitra proved that kids are information sponges, much more apt to keep up with technological changes than older generations, and that the only barrier to technological insertion for most kids is simply a lack of access.
More on the idealist website
Mind you, beware of people who believe technological insertion is a good thing per se… reminds me of the ARPA report to congress in 1972: “the long-sought goal is direct and intimate coupling between man and the computer.”
Wireless ‘wi-fi’ technology should be removed from schools to prevent millions of children suffering a heightened risk of cancer and sterility, teachers have demanded. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers called for classroom wireless networks to be suspended immediately until research has properly considered the threat to health.
Members said they were concerned by scientific reports linking wi-fi with impaired concentration, loss of short-term memory, chromosome damage and increased incidence of cancer.
The “business and markets can solve everything” propaganda is not restricted to the West. When it fails to deliver, community initiatives that don’t prioritize profit could be a solution. Businesses will go where the money is.
CALGARY (LC for APCNews) – Cybercafés are in decline in Senegal. Too much offer compared to demand because of prices that are still out of reach for the average Senegalese, have resulted in the closure of many of these access points to knowledge and communication, once found around the clock on every street corner in Dakar.
The arrival of a much-anticipated new operator, Expresso only led to disappointment – the operator jumped into the mobile telephone market rather than focus on the much-needed fixed telephony and internet sector. As a result, the state-owned operator continues to control basic infrastructure, creating a mere façade of competition among operators.
[ http://www.apc.org/en/node/9189 ]
Computer Aid has published the results of a study into the best low power PCs for use in ‘developing’ countries, carried out in conjunction with three African Universities and the ZDNet technical labs in the UK. Download the full report. (.pdf)
What do you do when you want to install a telecentre but there is no building available to house it? APC member Arid Lands Information Network has solved the problem by building cybercafe in shipping containers. These containers, known as maarifa (or knowledge) centres are fully equipped with computers and internet access and can be moved when the need arises.
One hundred institutions in rural areas of Paraguay with access to the internet. Poor indigenous communities experiencing contact with the world beyond their local surroundings for the first time ever. These are just a few snapshots of the outcomes achieved by Oportunet, a project launched in 2007 in Paraguay that has demonstrated the potential of the internet as a door to economic and social development in the poorest communities. (more…)
The Family Alliance for Development and Cooperation (FADECO) has come a long way since 1993, when Joseph Sekiku and friends formed an alliance to help overcome poverty in north-western Tanzania.
Starting as a network of people sharing an internet connection, the small telecentre eventually became a computer literacy training station, an internet café, and has expanded to an informative radio station reaching two million listeners, many of whom are farmers. Radio France International interviewed Joseph after his story was featured in an APC study called Unbounded possibilities: Observations on sustaining rural ICTs. Listen to the interview (mp3 file):