"For the Tonga people like me, there is something deeply biblical about the word MULONGA, yet it is a modern story too. One of massive but unshared technology. One of plentiful water but perpetual drought."
Dominic Muntanga
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mulonga.net >> Project >> Project News >> Funds for Tonga.Online 2-year programme
Funds for Tonga.Online 2-year programme
Saturday, 03 June 2006 00:00
Tonga.Online : A New Future : IT infrastructure development

Kunzwana Trust and The Tonga.Online project are delighted to confirm the substantial support received from the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), with effect from April 2006.

Once again, through good cooperation between Austria and Zimbabwe in the Zambezi Valley, the people of Binga and their counterparts in the Gwembe Valley across the Zambezi River in Zambia will benefit from the building and strengthening of IT infrastructure by the Tonga.Online project, which has already brought the world to Binga, and BaTonga to the world through computer training and access to the Internet.

Over the past five years, the project (supported throughout by the Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association, Upper Austrian Provincial Government, HORIZONT3000 and others has installed over 50 computers in 4 rural schools in the valley, including one in Zambia. Many more schools have applied for inclusion in the project as education leaders begin to realise the basic need for computer literacy in today's world and the importance of tapping into the potential of access to the Internet. While Tonga.Online works continuously to strengthen the existing community ITCs, the project faces increasing demand for access to IT.

Although the three existing ITCs on the Zimbabwean side serve a wide community, many BaTonga in the more remote areas of the huge Binga district still remain on the wrong side of the digital divide, facing the world without the opportunity even to see, feel or touch a computer.

The vision for Tonga.Online is to give these people access, for the centres to become sustainable and for the Tonga to be fully equipped to maintain them in the long term for the benefit of everyone in their communities.

The ADA support, a 2-year programme, comes in via the Austrian NGO HORIZONT3000 and will focus on IT infrastructure development and training in Zimbabwe and enable the project to expand and reach more people, putting into their hands the tools for their own survival and prosperity.

More specifically the project will:

  • Assist in the establishment of five more ITCs
  • Establish wireless local area networks (W-LAN) in order to expand access and avoid poor connectivity because of bad or non-existent phone lines
  • Establish Internet connectivity via satellite
  • Assist in the development of a simple and affordable infrastructure to oversee the development of the project
  • Facilitate meetings of stakeholders and link them to local, regional and international networks
  • Provide for the expansion of the cultural exchange programme between Austria and the Tonga people on both the Zimbabwean side and the Zambian side.

As regards training there will be courses in:

  • Multi-media literacy with a move towards the use of open source software
  • Sound, video and photo studio development
  • Web-design, web-editing and web-administration

As regards culture: there will be promotion of Tonga heritage through contributions by the community, cultural groups and artists who will be provided with Internet access, documentation and publicity.

The capacity of local government and local communities will be increased through training in e-governance as part of a broader strategy of participatory local development and empowerment.

Increased capacity of staff and others in matters relating to project and financial management and e-learning will lead to improved transparency and accountability.

There will be a special focus on matters relating to gender and the inclusion of women. Local business and crafts people will be supported in the promotion of their products using the Internet.

In Binga, on the shores of the mighty Zambezi river, teaching someone 'how to fish' is about to take on new meaning.

On behalf of all those whose lives are about to change on account of this invaluable support, we say twalumba loko (thank you very much).

Keith Goddard, Kunzwana Trust, Johann Atzinger, HORIZONT3000, Peter Kuthan, AZFA