Development Workshop (DW) is a non-profit organisation working to improve living conditions for the poor in less-developed communities. Its programme focus areas include shelter, peri-urban settlement upgrading, water supply and sanitation, primary health care, small enterprise development and disaster mitigation. DW’s strategy is to strengthen the capacity of communities and organisations to act on development problems and opportunities. Founded in 1973, DW has worked with communities, grassroots organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), local and national government authorities and international organisations in more than 30 countries.
Development Workshop Angola initiated the AngoNet program in 1989 with the objective to supply ICT services to non-profit organisations, community organisations, and individuals. The program has been funded by donor contributions including UNDP. AngoNet is program of humanitarian activities that is directed towards improving access to internet services, education, and business development in Luanda and other regional centres in Angola. The main activities aim to resolve the disastrous effects of a 30-year war on the country’s communications infrastructure, bringing access to Internet and technology training to those in remote regions. AngoNet has primarily focused its activity as a service provider seeking to support community networks in Luanda and Huambo serving Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and individuals – thus, universal access is a central part of its objectives. It has plans to extend its community access activities to the outer provinces of Angola.
Recent advances in connectivity via satellite, combined with the extremely rapid advance of digital radio technologies (known generically as Wi-Fi), today allows the installation of wireless community networks at reasonably low costs, with rapid implementation as compared to laying down fibre or other physical infrastructure. Our objective is to choose the appropriate technologies and to build strong ICT partnerships that will allow for greater leverage of AngoNet and so build greater ICT capabilities in Angola.
As well as operating the Telecentre business services described above AngoNet is also responsible as a project for the supply and maintenance of IT services to Development Workshop in 2 centres Huambo and Luanda. Costs for these services are recovered from DW.
Phase I has been implemented in Huambo, offering low-cost network infrastructures and ICT services. The program is expected to roll-out services to a number of locations in Luanda and the provinces. In order to facilitate this, DW is reconsidering its technical architecture and the services and suppliers that are used.
Description And Implementation Of The Project
DW and Angonet have experimented with a number of different options and have changed their configuration three times in three years. The current configuration in the two main locations is:
DW current has a leased line installed, after going through a number of satellite and other options. They are considering the implications of an optical fibre link. They have made a huge investment in hardware and technology, which has now become redundant for the Luanda office, but do not see this as a waste as the technology could still be used in other applications in the provinces.
The connectivity in Huambo is via VSAT with local distribution through WiFi and dial-up links. The telecentre in Huambo is the hub for the distribution and serves 8 wireless as well as 24 dial-up customers, covering government, NGO’s, banks, business and educational institutions. The current cost for the satellite connection is $2250 per month. An attempt is being made to share the cost of the connectivity between the customers on a cost recovery basis.