By FD for APCNews PRAGUE, Czech Republic, 24 May 2007
Fifty-three percent of participants to wireless internet trainings in Africa have installed one or more wireless networks since the training. This is what a survey about the impact of the APC-led ‘Capacity Building for Community Wireless Connectivity in Africa’ project reveals.
The survey was conducted in August 2006 and early 2007 with 88 out of 140 workshop participants to four regional training workshops in English and French held in different regions of Africa between 2004 and 2006. Full survey results surfaced on March 18 2007.
Fifty-eight percent of the trainees who responded to the survey indicated that they had, subsequent to their training, also “trained others on the subject of wireless technology.”
Furthermore, more then half the respondents were reputed having advised others on building wireless networks. Many of them also said they shared the training materials with others.
The evaluation of the two year project was awaited with great anticipation since it represents an ambitious precedent that could well be replicated. “The results are encouraging, especially in light of TRICALCAR (a wireless project that has just recently been kicked off on another continent, in South America),” said Karel Novotny, one of the key wireless figures at the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).
“One of the positive outcomes of the survey is that in general, participants rated the community aspect of the workshops highly,” added Novotny. The results do show that participants appreciated the responsiveness of trainers and mentioned the advantages brought about by an atmosphere of sharing that were privileged at workshops.
The evaluation showed that there are some gender differences in using skills acquired at the workshops. While men have had much more experiences with actually building and maintaining wireless networks, women participants became more involved in further promotion of the subject, such as providing training, sharing training material or advising others on the subject.
For workshop organizers, it was equally interesting to see the impediments that prevented some participants from putting their knowledge at work. Those who did not install any wireless networks since they participated in the APC-coordinated workshops most often mentioned a lack of wireless equipment to do so.
Assisting with getting hardware for the development of wireless networks is something many participants called for. This useful suggestion will be kept for follow-up activities.
Capacity Building for Community Wireless Connectivity in Africa involved a number of partners and experts on wireless technology and was supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Open Society Institute (OSI).