Hello List Members and Wire,

I write as a UK volunteer supporting Oke-Ogun Community Development
Agenda 2000 Plus (OOCD 2000+) in rural Nigeria.

This is in response to what Wire Lunghabo James sent to the list on
Tuesday, November 04, 2003 saying that high bandwidth is not a
pre-requisite to impact on development. I agree with him.

The first urgent necessity is simply to be able to communicate.

To illustrate that need I will quote from an interview. The speaker was
recorded near Okeho in Oke-Ogun, last August. We had been talking about
needs. The speaker (who works with Chief Adejumo, the OOCD chairman, in
connection with another community project) knows that I help OOCD 2000+
to link with the connected community. He mentioned various issues they
are trying to address.

I do not want to put words in his mouth, so where I am uncertain of his
exact words I will simply omit them and write "(unclear)". There are
sufficient key words to let you know what was on his heart.

"Issue of roads - nothing is working in rural areas (unclear), even our
roads. There is no way we can communicate outside. The roads are bad.
There is no telephone (unclear) any other useful information (unclear)
from outside"

He was not the only one who was hoping that somehow I could help him to
break through the communication barrier. Later that evening I was
discussing email with another local community worker. She explained that
her organisation had tried to have an email address (with Yahoo I
think). However there is a minimum level of use necessary to keep a
mailbox active. Given the distance and problems with the roads, her
organisation could not get to an email bureau in the city often enough
to keep their mailbox open.

I wanted to pass on the message from Okeho, Oke-Ogun, as evidence to
support what Wire is saying.

In view of what we are discussing, about the "need" for broadband please
take heed that I have only passed the message on in text, although, if I
was more experienced with video, and if I had broadband at the moment
instead of dial-up, then I could have put the video clip somewhere on
the web for you to access in full. The video is here, stored on the
laptop that I am using to type this email. I have in fact just replayed
it to remind myself what was said. But, as I can't do the broadband
version, so, rather than do nothing, I have sent you text, and hope that
has enabled communication..

How much better if the speaker could, himself, send text from Okeho...

It occurs to me that if the priority of the connected community is to
*deliver* its own web-based information to areas like Oke-Ogun, then of
course bandwidth is an important issue. If, by contrast, the priority is
to *communicate* (and perhaps listen to what people in the rural areas
have to say about their development needs) then simply connect - make
that first breakthrough and help people to communicate with each other.

Finally, on practicalities (like shared access through community centres
and linking various villages) again Wire is thinking along similar lines
to the vision of OOCD 2000+. At present there is one (unconnected)
InfoCentre in Ago-Are  - but its vision is to be connected, and to
become the co-ordinating centre for ten more InfoCentres (one in each of
the ten local government areas of Oke-Ogun) and all gradually cascading
out to the surrounding areas. However, my (non techie) understanding of
the wireless solution to cascading out is that there are problematic
bureaucratic hurdles, like needing a licence. Maybe we can discuss this
further off list.

Pam McLean

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