Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wireless Ghana, bridging the Digital Divide.

Much has been said about the 'digital divide' and how it excludes
Africa from participating fully in the revolution that is happening
through and on the internet. Although a myriad of issues ( See my post) contribute to the digital divide, one major issue has been Affordable
Access, especially in rural Africa.

Well I am enthused but suprised to stumble on Wireless Ghana, a project using ad hoc MESH networks to provide affordable internet and wide area connectiity to rural communities.

Why surprised? Because it has taken me this long to even hear of such
an initiative. If there is anyone reading who has prior knowledge of
this project why have you not continued to make noise.

Two main things I love about this initiative;

1. Action, Not words, policy, unconferences....

Wireless Ghana has the tagline "interconnectivity for West African
communities" and they are delivering small steps at a time.

The project was lauched in 2005 and currently operates a 20km wide
MESH network (Akwapim Community Wireless Network) using Open Source software and commercial network and PC hardware to share a 128 kbps VSAT internet
access across ten nodes.

It benefits schools, NGOs,small business owners across 6 towns in the Akwapim District of the Eastern Region of Ghana.


The MESH network is built using;

a. Open Source Software: CUWiNWare (Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network)

b. Antenna: Rugged (probably local made) well suited for the terrain

c. Routers: Old unwanted PCs and New Wireless Cards (recycle, reuse)

I love this hands-on, hack stuff together approach because its about
using what's available and usual lowers cost.

( See Flickr Album)

So who are the people behind it?

Three people manage it;
Project Director: Mr. John Atkinson (Peace Corps Ghana); doubles as teacher.

Project co-ordinator; Mr. Gideon Kofi Amoah

Chief Officer of Technology: Mr. Ebenezer Boateng.

Ultimately it belongs to the whole community.

Sent from my mobile device