The meeting was with 25 participants very busy. The Managers from the IICD supported Community Information Centres joined the meeting for the first time and they were able to met with staff members from other IICD supported projects from the North: SEND Foundation from Tamale, , Mapronet from Tamale, PEPS-C from Wa, ACDEP from Tamale, WADEP from Nkwanta and from the South: Global Teenager Project Ghana and Ministry of Information and National Orientation (MINO). The Monitoring and Evaluation partner of IICD, DASF based in Tamale was also attending the meeting. From IICD itself Mr Olaf Erz, country manager Ghana and Ms Martine Koopman, Officer Knowledge Sharing were both present.
Interview with Maggie Kyiu, DASF
The meeting started with introduction of each other by presenting a short description of the project, the target groups that projects addressed and their link to other projects. The main theme was a brainstorm session how the CIC's could collaborate more with the IICD partners. Especally when CIC's are in the same town as project partners collaboration could be focused on sharing technical skills, shared connectivity, development of local content. Ideas were also shared how CIC's could become more sustainable. The main message was there: be creative, develop a range of services to attract people to your centre, know what the people in your community need. Eeven without connectivity, which is a major challenge in the rural areas you can train people in basic ICT skills, sell phone credits, become a Western Union centre, rent yiur venue to other organisations including catering, etc. Key is collaboration with other organisations and government officals like District Information Officers. So that you really create a COMMUNITY INFORMATION Centre.
Saira Qureshi gave a presentation on best practices on project management and writing for the web. A lively discussion afterwards followed especially about creation of own webpages or blogs for CIC's.
The last subject was an inventarisation of connectivity solutions and challenges that the projects were facing. In the North 3 options seems to prevail. GPRS modems are coming up, they seem cheaper and just as reliable as other options, but could not be connected with to too many computers. GT Broadband was the second option and VSAT the third. All projects were facing major problems related to connectivity like unreliable or no service, difficulties with technical support and high prices. The group agreed to finalize a table with an overview of all options, costs and pro's and con's of each option.
At the end of the meeting an action plan was made for 2009 discussing the topics for future meetings. After some networking after the meeting everyone went home with at least one idea that they could practice in their own project.