Good Prospects for Tonga.Online Phase 2

The official opening of Binga Information Technology Centre on 15th February 2002 marked the successful completion of phase 1 and start into phase 2 of Tonga.Online project. The achievement was highlighted by all stakeholders and authorities present and by World Links for Development Programme who recognised Binga I.T.C. as 43rd WorLD Centre in Zimbabwe.

At the 2nd stakeholder seminar held at Binga High school on 18th February the challenges and prospects for the project were discussed. A strategy for promoting the centre and its services in Binga and within the wider community on both sides of the Zambezi River was designed.

The seminar acclaimed the ongoing co-operation between Binga Craft Centre and Auhof Basket Company, a training firm of Auhof Business School in Linz. It shows an example how to promote the indigenous craft of basket weaving and income generation by Tonga women via the internet. Since begin of this year some 300 Tonga baskets have been sold in Austria already.
A debate has started how to adjust the design of the website in order to cater for the needs and aspirations of the stakeholders involved and to focus attention and discussion.

 The key task of phase 2 is to assist the Siachilaba community to establish access to information technology at Siachilaba Primary School in close affiliation with Binga I.T.C.

he Tonga.Online project intends to embark on extensive fieldwork and outreach programme to assess the needs and implications thoroughly. Capacity building will focus not only on basic computer and management skills, but also promote creative representation. A follow up to the photography workshops in Binga and Siachilaba is planned.
In this context the partner organisation VUM will address the Open Source issue and provide for relevant technical advice and training.
The Austrian NGO Horizon 3000 has offered Binga Highschool to deploy an Austrian ITC expert, Mr. Stefan Hecke at the Binga Information Technology Centre to assist the project stakeholders in webdesign and to support the community outreach programme from July onwards.

Special attention should be given to the promotion of women and to gender issues. Furthermore the project intends to encourage inter-cultural communication and collaboration between schools in Austria and Zimbabwe, but also local cultural exchange between village and town. The network should support closer collaboration between the Tonga museums in Binga and Choma / Zambia.

Another focus of ongoing debate is how to organise community access and management of the Information Technology Centres in Binga and Siachilaba. Such constitutional or governance issues of access, representation and participation are related to the wider development context of human rights, governance and democracy - in Zimbabwe and around the globe.