DEPLOYMENT OF INTERNET HOTSPOTS AND DIGITAL CENTRES
Following the Memorandum of Understanding Signed between the Africa Higher Education Research Institute (AHERI) a Project under Community Initiative Support Services International (CISS) and Basic Internet Foundation, a site Survey was conducted on 16th and 17th January 2019 at five different sites spanning three counties.
The Survey was conducted in the following counties:
- Kisumu County
- Homa Bay County
- Siaya County
The Survey was spearheaded by a Project team from AHERI backed up by a Secretariat. The project team comprised
- Mr. Robert Owino Odera Director Africa Higher Education Research Institute Administrative Lead
- Mr. Barrack Otieno Director Africa Higher Education Research Institute Partnerships Leads
- Mr. Kenneth Ombette Africa Higher Education Research Institute Technical Lead
- Mr. Gordon Ouma Obonyo Consultant Africa Higher Education Research Institute
SITE VISIT AND SURVEY RESULTS
OBJECTIVES OF THE SITE VISITS AND SURVEY
- To identify areas with limited access to the Internet either due to low availability or high costs.
- To conduct a feasibility study on implementation of local information spots with the primary objective of distributing development oriented information and local content using the Basic Internet solutions model.
- Deployment of a high bandwidth local distribution network supporting local collaboration and content distribution. The community servers will be pre-loaded with education, health and development information that will be freely available to local citizens.
- A Business option for providing premium Internet. The Freemium model of access promotes free access to information (text, pictures and local video), and premium access to entertainment, games and other bandwidth-demanding content. Premium access will be availed through the sale of Internet Vouchers.
SITE VISIT AND SURVEY RESULTS
The Project Team visited the Kisumu Urban Apostolate Programmes (KUAP) also known as Pandipieri (pandipieri.org) an initiative supported by the Catholic Church that works in the informal settlements. The Project team met the Centre’s Director and after an introduction of the AHERI –BASIC Internet Foundation project, there was consensus that there was great potential in the two organizations (CISS and KUAP) collaborating.
KUAP has a community Centre frequented by more than 100 people on a weekly basis. The Centre has a Resource facility that is equipped with computers to provide health related information. However , Internet Connectivity has been a major challenge to them. KUAP is also located on the periphery of Nyalenda an informal settlement that would benefit immensely from low cost connectivity that can facilitate communication and development related collaboration in the local community. The two sites are within two Kilometres of mobile base Stations from various service providers. Internet can be accessed via 3G or 4 G.
The KUAP Management requested for a formal request for partnership to be submitted so that the partnership can be formalized. They also proposed an extra site within Obunga Informal settlement where they have a Social Hall frequented by the Youth.
The site visit and survey was coordinated by the Community Initiative Support Services field officer in Kabondo Mrs Herine Kawaka. The team surveyed the Community Initiative Support Services Office which is located on a major International Highway. The project team then visited the local trading centre with a view to finding out how the single Cyber Café in the area connects to the Internet. The team discovered that the Cyber Café uses a mobile phone hotspot. The team then visited the newly established Omuga Technical and Vocational Centre.
Omuga Technical and Vocational Centre has more than 150 students drawn from surrounding villages in Kabondo constituency. Information and Communication Technology is a compulsory module yet the centre lacks Internet connectivity. The centre shares a fence with a local primary school and provides agricultural extension services to the local community. After discussions with the principal and the head of the Information and Communications Technology department, it was clear that an information spot would be beneficial to the Technical and Vocational Centre and the local community.
There was general agreement that the site was viable and sustainable and would be considered for the pilot phase of the project. The area is within an accessible range from the nearest mobile base station and the 3 G Signal is strong enough based on the measurements conducted The team agreed to send a formal request for collaboration to the Principal to pave way for implementation of the pilot phase of the project.
After visiting the Technical and vocational centre the team visited Oriang Mission Hospital and Community Centre along the Kisumu – Kisii Highway. The Mission Hospital is close to the Community Initiative Support Services International Field offices and is adjacent to a Primary School and a Church frequented by the Youth. The project team met the sister in charge of the mission hospital who after extensive discussions felt that there was room for collaboration and that an information spot would complement the morning health talks that are given to patients at the mission hospital as they wait to be treated. The team agreed that this was also a viable spot subject to availability of equipment. Oriang Mission Hospital is within a 2 Kilometre radius from the nearest base station. The 3G Signal is strong at the location based on the measurements undertaken by the team
The project team travelled to Kombewa a Peri-Urban centre. Community Initiative Support Services supports a youth group with approximately 100 members in the area that can benefit from the Information Centre. However the Information Spot would have to be deployed at the Community Initiative Support Services Office. The project team explored possibilities of extending the signal to the local polytechnic and medical training centre which are within a 5 Kilometre Radius covered by foliage. Kombewa is within 2 Kilometres from the nearest base station and has a strong 3 G Signal making the site technically viable.
The project team visited the CISS Community Centre in Akala which is located at a rapidly developing community centre. The Centre has a resource centre that can accommodate more than 200 Community members and has a demonstration farm and a borehole. The Centre also hosts a constituency library. The team noted that the site was ideal for a Centre of Excellence for Digital Literacy and hence would require an information spot. The Site is secure and has power
The project team finalized the site visits by visiting the CISS Community Centre in Ng’iya. The Centre has a bakery, honey processing plant and demonstration farm and hosts Community meetings attended by over 50 Community members every week. The community centre is secure and has stable power. The Centre is within 7 Kilometres from the nearest telecommunication base station and has a strong 3 G Signal. In addition accessibility to the Centre is good.
The Project team agreed that the pilot phase should focus on the following sites:
- Nyalenda Informal Settlement in Obunga in Partnership with KUAP (www.pandipieri.org)
- Obunga Informal settlement in partnership with KUAP (www.pandipieri.org)
- Omuga Technical and Vocational Centre Kabondo Homabay
- CISS Community Centre Akala Gem County Rural www.cisskisumu.org
- CISS Community Centre Ng’iya Rural www.cisskisumu.org
- 6. CISS Community Centre Kisumu County Peri-Urban subject to availability of additional Infrastructure
The Project team held a debrief meeting at the CISS Offices in Kisumu City. There was consensus that there was need to train Project Officers where the Infrastructure will be deployed on the following issues:
- Management of the Infrastructure
- Content Management
- How end users can access other premium services that will be availed through the infrastructure.
The Project team was also in agreement that extensive awareness will need to be conducted to facilitate usage of the Information hotspots and related services. The team engaged engaged with various stakeholders to explain the benefits they would accrue from the information spots and the digital centres as shown below
DEVELOPMENT OF A COMPREHENSIVE BUSINESS PLAN FOR COMMUNITY NETWORK
Having analysed the varying conditions in the different sites. The team agreed that for sustainability, a comprehensive business plan for a Community Network (Community Wireless Internet Service Provider) would need to be developed and further funding sourced beyond the seed capital provided for by Basic Internet Foundation and Community Initiative Support Services – AHERI.