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Subject: Re: CCC in Addis
From: Uwe Wahser <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List
Date:Tue, 3 Sep 1996 13:42:40 -0700
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Dear Lishan,

thanks for your contribution, sharing your experience with The Hornet. Up to
now, I had a slight feeling, that the discussions on CCCs had some
characteristics of flaming. Now I can see that it's a serious issue. But you
left me with some questions:

> IP connections
> in many African countries are full of bureaucratic and policy
> steps. This must be sorted out within the next two years.

How did you calculate exactly two years?

> Peruvian local IP access centers
> (run by local ISP)[you gave these as an example for telecenters]

A friend of mine recently visisted Peru, he couldn't find any of these
cabinas publicas, although he can smell a net from a distance, if one is
around. He told me the problem might be because of a lack of padrinos,
someone who is paying for the thing.

> We have tried this in Ethiopia before having IP
> connection. It works. Here are some of the problems we faced with
> the Hornet a community web information resource in Addis Ababa:

http://www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/Hornet/What_is_Hornet.html tells us:
"Users include academics, government and non-governmental organizations, UN
agencies, businesses and diplomats." - In the context of CCCs, what is your
definition of a community?

As some of the constraints you mentioned:

> Regular training (how to
> configure Winsock, load and use browser, HTML, etc.) and then
> hand-holding.
> We need support personnel with a
> good information management and networking background.

...keep those in mind for one of my next questions

> Many do not know it exists. We
> are marketing it in various forms. It cannot market itself;
> networking clock is slow in developing countries.

In public health they are using local drama groups to promote condoms for STD
control in rural communities. Are you thinking of something like that?

> -communication technology: bad phone lines. We face bad phones
> dilemma for those outside of Addis Ababa. (Here we are looking at
> alternatives to reach some of the users in the field). There are
> no good solutions for the "last mile" as yet. May solutions exist
> but  technically not friendly to local standards.

field - are you talking about Gondar, Mekele, Dire Dawa, Awasa ... or are you
talking about waredas or even kebeles? BTW: how many kebeles are there in
Ethiopia? And now remember your constraints - how many people for holding
hands would you calculate for those - with a new browser-generation comming
up every six months?

> Then the question of making it useful to local
> needs, settings etc. That means development of  new user
> interface and language translation.

I really admire (I *really* do!) the (expatriate) Ethiopian Web-Community for
making the Ge'ez net-able. That way the amharigna can be read on the web - as
one of the 70 Ethiopian languages. BTW: what was the literacy-rate in
Ethiopia?

> Think small and scale.

I agree all the way.

> Can we forget community based
> Internet access, because many Africans are farmers?

A friend of mine is running his own computer business (he's even selling
network solutions), although he grew up on a farm!

> Or help the
> two layers ((civil servants, international, NGOs, urban business)
> + development workers that bring farmers and governments closer)
> start ahead with these new tools?

As you said - thinking small: approaching these two levels *only* is already
a big, big task - too big in my opinion, based on my very short experience
with conventional computing in an African administration, and - even worse -
with expatriate development workers.

> The problem is simply getting the right and skilled local experts
> to turn ideas to reality.

... and turning water into wine. Once you know how to multiply one
fish-sandwich into 2000, it's very simple! You don't even need money.

Anyway, keep up the good work and good luck on your project. But please,
don't promise things, which you cannot keep. That mistake was done to often
during the (short) history of development aid.

regards

uwe wahser

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