Access 4 all! Tonga.Online extension!

The first Information Technology Centre established in the Tonga area at Binga Highschool in October last year and its official opening in February 2002 as the 43rd World Links for Development (WorLD) Centre in Zimbabwe marks a new era of development in this remote district. The collaborative efforts of the major stakeholders made it possible to expand the manpower base and the capacity of the Tonga.Online project remarkably: Sengamo Ndlovu, who has been working at the Centre from the onset got the company of a second teacher, Stanford Muchineripi from MINEC, effective 2nd term in May; the Austrian NGO Horizon 3000 sent an ICT expert, Stefan Hecke recently; and, last but not least, Kunzwana Trust deployed Penny Yon to Binga, well known in the area as a community outreach worker.

This development will boost the TONGA.ONLINE project's extension and address some weaknesses and goals that were identified at the recent stakeholder workshop held in Binga:

  • Due to lack of full time staff and technical knowledge to utilise the equipment, the Centre has not been operating at maximum capacity.
  • Binga is in a remote area with a rich oral tradition but low level of literacy. Therefore the community needs to be informed and mobilised to realise that this communication infrastructure can also be used with basic level of literacy if suitable training is provided.
  • Access is still limited to a few people and the school. To promote public access and sharing of the existing infrastructure, more stakeholders and groups within the community have to get involved and capacitated.
  • There is need to identify and establish more plug-in points - like Siachilaba and other schools -  to expand the infrastructure and network in Binga area and to encompass the community on the Zambian side.
  • The project has to build the capacity for the community to make use of these facilities not only to receive but also to produce information and local content.
  • A system of access, management and maintenance has to be developed to make the infrastructure a self-sustaining venture.

With these major challenges and goals ahead we say:
Welcome to the new team: Penny + Sengamo + Stanford + Stefan!

Come in and contribute! Add your comments and suggestions on the website at the discussion forum. Let´s make the extension of Tonga.Online a joint effort.

Best wishes!
Peter Kuthan