INTERNET FOR DEVELOPMENT By: Sankung Sawo May 2000
Presentation Framework Brief background of ICT in the Gambia Achievements : ICT infrastructure, services Key Players & issues: ICT based economy Constraints : Education and SBCs Way Forward : strategic Deployment Conclusion and Recommendations
Brief background : Data Services 1992-1993 : GAMTEL rolled out X.25 network in GBA and introduced BT information services 1993 : BICI pioneered X.25 WAN in GBA 1995: GAMTEL introduced CompuServe Services with limited internet access. 1996: Delphi Internet services introduced Oct. 1998: 2MBps Full Internet backbone nationwide, with 2 ISPs operational.
What has been Achieved Basic Inftrastructure: Countrywide Internet backbone with 12 PoPs. No. 3 in Africa, after S.Africa and Eqypt. All News papers hosted: but none has a website. DialUp USERs: 1997 <150, 2000: ~2000 ( <20 in rural ). Total may be 3000 - 5000 people with access. Schools with access: 4 to 6 in GBA, 1 provinces Academic centers with Full connection: 2, GTMI & MDI. Research Centers: 1 (MRC, Fajara & Farafenni)
What has been Achieved (cont.) NGOs: virtually all on dialup, UNDP on full link. Hotels and Travel agents: All, on dialup. ISPs: 2, Quantum & GAMTEL Gov. Mins & Depts. All in GBA, on dialup. CyberCafes:: about 8 in 18 months! Total Invest: probably >US$2M, mainly by GAMTEL & Quantum.
Key Players & Issues: KEY PLAYERS: Gov. DOS W&C GAMTEL UN & NGOs Private Sector - small businesses especially EDU sector, include research institutions KEY ISSUES: Policy and Regulation Connectivity & Costing PARTNERSHIP & Advocacy. Innovation & good choice of ICT deployment. ICT Curriculum and Fast Track programs.
CONSTRAINTS : Blocks & BottleNecks! Very Low PC penetration: figure not known Low telephone density: provinces especially High dialup tariff:: fixed pay at ~$17 unlimited and connection charge ~US$1/hr. Very low Computer literacy level: determined by school literacy. Electricity problems: especially outside GBA; many fear to install PC.
CONSTRAINTS : Blocks & BottleNecks! ISP operational cost too high: 64k connection at ~$16,000 pa and Registration ~US$4,000 one time. Free Web Mail competition: less user registration High PC costs: due to import tax, etc. Non-ISP Host Connection too high: Gamtel charges same rate applied to ISP at $16,000 pa, However EDU connection at ~50% through UNDP up to Oct 2001.. Congestion: on dialup lines happen often now. Low Digital resources: little online data.
THE WAY FORWARD: Strategies & Focus Gov DOS W&C revise policy and regulation on ICT, more conducive. Tariffs: slice all by Jan 2001. Advocacy: more for internet on public media Technology Deployment: affordable Internet packages
STRATEGIES on key issues: 1 -Policy & Regulation DOS W&C set clear-cut deliberate policies: to achieve dream goals. DOS W&C institute different boards and working groups for ICT development. Policy on digitalization of Gov. offices and public data in key institutions: health, finance, etc Academic institutions be empowered to take charge of Internet administration 0% tax on IT imports for EDU purposes
STRATEGIES on key issues: 2 - Connectivity & Costing Differential tariff structure, to encourage more host connection and thus demand. Deploy inexpensive sharing technologies eg Proxy routers, Domain Mail software for schools and training centers, etc. all free with Linux and other packages. ISPs implement local Roaming, to reduce congestion effect. ISDN connection: alternative, can be cheaper for Small businesses.
STRATEGIES on key issues: 3 :- Partnership & Advocacy Our current facility came as a result of UNDP GoG. Partnership in IIA project, ISPs work in partnership with NGOs: to deliver services in rural areas, both benefit. Technology Programs on GRTS Creation of an academic research group who can co-ordinate this kind of activities. GPO with Gamtel: can deliver datagram Email and sound files to rural users.
STRATEGIES on key issues: 4:- Innovation & good choice of ICT Low Cost PCs:NetPCs at <$700, recycled PCs. Network rather than Standalone: to use low cost sharing technologies, like Proxy routers, free Linux PC software, etc. CDROM media : 650MB readily available; CD-RW writers cost <$1000, whole library! Streaming Audio : for schools and radio stations Laptop PC on Car battery: DC power possible.
STRATEGIES on key issues: 5:- ICT Curriculum and Fast Track programs. Internet: was created by academic community but developed by commercial enterprise into what it is today. Immediate in all Schools: introduce IT in all schools and use recycled PCs, etc. Vocational and Other Training Institutes develop programs to train en masse, especially Quantum and Gamtel GTMI..
Conclusion & Recommendations The Internet Society Mission Statement reads: “To ensure the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world”. Internet is for information access and sharing IT resources - including human capacity. Its success is therefore dependent on CONTENT and thus we must develop it.
Conclusion & Recommendations All of us must be committed and dedicated to make the Internet more affordable and resourceful, especially for 2020 initiative. We owe it to our children and humankind to ensure that our culture, values, and everything achieved here goes into digital record. Play a vital role in the African Internet Society Initiative (AISI) signed at the Conference of African Ministers in May 1996.
Conclusion & Recommendations GOG and Gamtel revamp the current Internet tariff structure - make it affordable and open. GOG launch a Situation Analysis of ICT and Internet services in the Gambia - business tool. DOS W&C launch a campaign for Partnership in Internet development in the Gambia. GOG embark on ambitious digitalization now. Launch an all Schools connection initiative - using recycled PCs, local & international.
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