Most internet access relies on the availability of a reliable fixed telephone line and that can be a struggle to find in many parts of rural Africa. Wireless technology can by-pass the fixed-line problem. APC’s Anna Feldman has just returned from a wireless training workshop on Zanzibar where thirty five trainees learned how to set up their own connections and eventually – using antennas made out of recycled tin cans – were able to wirelessly connect an atol two kilometres across the sea from the workshop venue.
APC’s latest initiative is looking to connect communities who don’t yet have internet access by skilling them to build their own wireless networks. The project covers the development of training materials in English, French and Arabic and workshops that will be adapted for different environmental, regulatory and climatic conditions. With four regional workshops in Africa in 2005, we’ll be training up to 100 possible future trainers. Plans are also afoot in Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
The Fantsuam Foundation provides refurbished computers to civil society organisations and partners, runs computer training centres and offers the only internet connection for hundreds of miles around in rural Nigeria. All this in Kafanchan State where electricity is often unavailable and innovators power their computers using car batteries. The Foundation’s work is supported by a home-grown corps of ICT youth volunteers, the Zitt Geeks. The Geeks are already free software devotees and they are the first participants in Fantsuam’s business incubator which provides training, mentoring and funding to enable enterprising youths to become self-employed.
APC member in rural Nigeria, Fantsuam Foundation, has recorded yet another first in rural ICT programmes. Earlier this year, Fantsuam launched a VSAT facility which provides the first rural-based internet access in Kaduna State, if not in Nigeria. APCNews talked to Fantsuam’s director, John Dada, about the impact the new internet satellite connection is having on the community and the Foundation.