We are in the midst of a little experiment linking agricultural
researchers in Uganda to a major research library and reference
service in West Africa.
The link within Uganda is partially via HF radio, since the research
station there has ineffective telephone service. Emails are sent in
the usual fashion however -- the method of transmission of the
emails through HF radio, dedicated digital line, and satellites is
quite transparent to the individual users, and simple for them to
operate -- the programmers at Bushnet have seen to that.
The full story written by the head of information services at the
IITA in Ibadan can be found at either of these locations:
The two stories are not quite the same. In particular, there are
technology references at the bottom of the report on the USAID page.
Now that the technical problems are fairly well resolved, all the
parties are taking a close look at costs. The HF radio link
in particular is rather expensive (US$0.30 per kb), but the service
provider in Uganda, Bushnet, has pledged to assist with methods for
making the system affordable, including diversion of large or
low-priority mail to a cheaper site for evaluation and possible
retransmission via local courier.
The research station in Uganda, NAARI, is acting essentially as a
rural telecenter or kiosk. If costs can be managed and accomodated,
the hope is to choose next a much more remote rural research station.
One way these stations might recover some of their costs is to share
them with NGOs, health centers, and others also working in remote
rural areas. The radio system can easily cover all of Uganda from
Kampala. I've seen messages transmitted as far as Dar es Salaam with
For further background, see the section on Namulonge and local
wireless Internet providers in
and the section on WFP radio email in
Comments, suggestions appreciated.
Jeff @ Washington
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1111 North 19th Street Suite 210
Arlington, VA 22209 USA
Tel 1-703-235-5415 Fax 1-703-235-3805