DISCONNECTED: The Digital Divide in Apac District Exposed!

24 08 2010

When the local Television channels will not broadcast without a DSTV connection, no Broadband, and no radio – except for one Community Radio! What would do you do?

Exposing the Digital Divide - Local TV NOT working, No Broadband, Just one Community Radio and Mobile Phones!

This week I am in Apac District – Northern Uganda facilitating a Website training at Kubere Information Centre (KIC) a project of Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET).

Apac town is one of the disconnected towns in Uganda. People here; need DSTV (Dish Television) to watch local TV channels. There are no telephone lines – which means you cannot access broadband internet. They only have one community Radio (Radio Apac – 92.9) – this means that the rest of the local and international radio stations wont broadcast here.

During the lunch break, we went to one of the local restaurants, the TV set is playing in DVD Move – we are watching a Nigerian movie (they are very famous here). Do you have a TV set at your house? – I asked one of my friends.  “No”, she replied. “I don’t need it, TV is only good when you can watch local TV channels. TV works very well in Lira (a neighboring district) but here, it won’t broadcast!”

Another friend I talked to said, “when I want to watch the news, I will just go to any of the local bars where they have DSTV.”

Life is very cheap and expensive here at the same time! Personally, I cannot imagine life without TV – I want to be able to watch the news on local Television when I can, I want to be able t listen to radio – both local and international (like BBC).

Information and communication technology continues to become popular in many corners of the world, even in the developing countries. Now, the Digital Divide is wider and more visible than ever!

This is not my first time in Apac but this time I have learned something new and rather very inconveniencing. But life here continues. Through out the day, I see people walking in and out of this information to read the daily newspaper, agriculture information material and to access the internet.

Its times like this that I get to appreciate the power of a mobile phone. My cellphone is working very well, and thats why I can use my Mobile Internet Dongle to access the internet via GPRS. The internet is pretty slow and unstable but at least thats the reason I am still connected  with my friends in Kampala and all around the world.

And Radio Apac ( the community radio) is really doing wonders here. Its the only working/ broadcasting FM radio station in this town. Everybody tunes into it. Last night, I tuned in to Radio Apac using my radio-enables mobile-phone. They use a mix of English and Luo (the native language here), playing some decent music and actually download a couple of podcast from Voice of America radio (VOA) and play them back for the listeners here in Apac!

Our stake holders should do better than this. The government should invest more funds in development of community radios, information centres (Telecentres) and infrastructure to facilitate communication not just in “big cities” – but also down to the grassroots.





Life at the Quarry: Made in Women of Kireka!

10 08 2010

Last weekend I took the liberty to visit the Women of Kireka (WoK) office and quarry. The quarry is located in Kireka, a Kampala suburb.

Members of WoK at work in the quarry

Some of the members of WoK at work in the quarry

Jenny and Bridget, the new Women of Kireka interns were so kind to take us (myself, Kelly and two other visitors) for a tour through WoK activities and the quarry.  🙂        It was really nice to visit this project that my friend is helping to raise funds.

Women of Kireka is a women’s cooperative jewelry business based in Kampala, Uganda. By providing business skills training,

added capital and a resilient peer group, WoK is helping its 20 members gain economic independence.  The 20 members part time at the quarry together with their children.

My friend, Siena Anstis was introduced to Women of Kireka in 2008, during her internship in Uganda. She visited the quarry and since then, she has helped women to raise funding to start a tailoring and jewelery making co-operative through social innovation.

Siena is running the Montreal Oasis Marathon on September 5th, 2010. This marathon was inspired by the need to find a way to help pay school fees for the children of the Women of Kireka. READ MORE HERE

Making jewelery (beads) out of paper

The member of WoK using a paper cutter to make jewelery (beads) out of paper

Necklesses/ Jewelery: The finished products!

Necklesses/ Jewelery: The finished products- Made in Kireka!

Visit Women of Kireka today and buy yourself some of that beautiful Jewelery you see in the pictures! Or you can BUY ONLINE to support this project. 😉

Kudos Siena and Women of Kireka for your hard work and resilience!!