The United Nations have highlighted the critical role that ICTs will play in achievement of the sustainable development goals. However, for residents living in low income areas such as Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya there are barriers to access and usage. A lack of locally relevant services and content combined with high costs of internet and ICT devices hinder residents from leveraging on ICTs for socio-economic empowerment.
TunapandaNET is a low cost community wireless network championed by Tunapanda Institute whose goal is to build a digital ecosystem in education enabling community members to leverage on connectivity for sustainable livelihoods. The network was conceptualized in 2015 with the goal of providing youth in Kibera with access to digital educational content. The Institute can only accommodate around 30 trainees per cohort, although it receives over 300 applications. The idea was to have local youth access Tunapanda’s eLearning platform (SWAG) and take online courses, should they not be successful in their application to join the program. Through partnership with the Internet Society, International Centre of Theoretical Physics (Italy) and Rhinotivity (Denmark), four nodes were deployed in 2017 serving two schools with over 1500 students and a youth center serving 300 local youths.
This year, through the BeyondNET funding program by the Internet Society, Tunapanda and ISOC Kenya are partnering to scale the community network by providing connectivity to 7 schools, 2 youth centers and 1 women center. The project targets 4 out of the ten villages in Kibera, providing connectivity covering a 15–20 km range.
The network will have the following features:
- Wi-Fi hotspots and affordable connectivity for schools, youth and women centers.
- Cloud-based school management system for use in school administration. This would enhance the efficiency of schools
- Cloud-based e-learning systems and content to transform teaching and learning in schools.
- Capacity building and training for teachers, youth and women to equip them with digital literacy skills as well as the ability to participate in the digital economy.
The project will promote Internet access for all by investing in low income areas through provision of network infrastructure and ICT skills training.