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AFRIK-IT  July 1999

AFRIK-IT July 1999

Subject:

Re: ICTs poverty & development

From:

Joris Komen <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Thu, 15 Jul 1999 17:23:35 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (74 lines)

Hi AFRIK-IT listers

Greetings from Namibia:-).  I bring you tidings of how ICTs can help to
alleviate poverty in low-income countries - by innovation! ;-)!  I pursue
Don's line of thought concerning the idea of micro-credit schemes:-) and
agree with him that
it may be a good thing that this phenomenon remains a home-grown private
sector phenomenon:-).  Briefishly:-):

A school internet development project, facilitated by the Namibia Internet
Development Foundation and the National Museum, has recently been launched
here in Namibia:

Although the increased awareness of biodiversity preservation has
highlighted the crucial role of biological collections in museums,
seemingly little attention has been given to the *urgency* of inventory
work.  Essentials are simply not being computerized fast enough.

*Insect@thon* is a new annual school contest created by the National Museum
of Namibia. The purpose of the *Insect@thon* is to inventory national
biodiversity information (this year, the insects of Namibia), and promote
the Internet at schools in Namibia (less than 30% of schools in Namibia
presently have telephones!) -   an interactive, participatory event that is
intended to encourage students to take advantage of the Internet as a vast,
and constantly growing, source of information, with the clear understanding
that the Internet, like telephones, electricity and other services, *does
not come for free*.

The target of the Insect@thon is to inventory *70,000* hand-written insect
records (comprising 11 data-fields) in *two* days (14-15 August), employing
15 school teams of 4 - 6 students each. The Insect@thon event is (entirely)
sponsored by the local corporate community (no foreign donors yet:- )).

Subsequent school involvment by way of the internet, i.e., adding more
biodiversity records to our webtop databases, will be rewarded with credit
points - points which will allow the students at these schools to obtain
additional
equipment, software, internet subscriptions, payment of telephone bills,
etc.  We expect that this incentive should provide continuity to the
project.

We have some 20 key local corporate sponsors onboard thus far, including
banks, insurance companies, travel agencies, chartered accountants, ISPs
and computer resellers. They all have in common the reality of loads of
*obsolete* non-Y2K compliant equipment, and three-year capital equipment
write-off schemes - equipment which can still be used for Internet
connectivity:-).  There are 100s of *obsolete* 28.8k and 33.6k modems
floating around.  Their sponsorship support has thus far resulted in some
180 PCs and modems being pledged to the project - of which 15  will be
immediately awarded to this year's Insect@thon participants.  While the
three top winning schools will receive contemporary equipment (Sun server,
Imac, and Pentium III), a lot of the computers are older generation 486dxs
and Pentium Is.  As more and more local corporations join the party, we'll
have plenty of machines (and modems), and internet subscriptions, to
distribute to schools over the next 12 months, and do a repeat show in
July/August next year.  Since the Insect@thon is a well-defined social
responsibility project, we can expect equipment pledges for years to come,
including even Y2k compliant equipment within the next year or so:-)!

If you would like more background on the Insect@thon and our museum's
searchable webtop databases, please take a look at

http://www.natmus.cul.na/insectathon.html

I hope that this is of interest to you, or to others who might like to pick
up the thread!

Cheers

Joris Komen
Curator/IT Manager
National Museum of Namibia
http://www.natmus.cul.na/newindex.html

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