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ICT4D Research and Resource Centre in the Rural Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda (Kabarole Information Centre)

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The centre trains young entrepreneurs and the unemployed how to create their own employment opportunities through the use both traditional and modern ICT tools to improve their production and marketing opportunities under the ICT-Enabled Business Incubation Intiative/main Thematic Area of ToroDev.

1. Sommario progetto

The Establishment of an ICT4D Research and Resource Centre is project that was initiated in 2006 and implemented by Toro Development Network (ToroDev), a local community based NGO in Toro/Rwenzori region of Western Uganda under the guidance of Johnstone Baguma, founder and Executive Director. The project started in phases; The Community Information Needs Assessment Survey (2006), that recommended the establishment of a public ICT4D facility (Kabarole Information Centre) to benefit local young entrepreuers with ICT- enabled business skills, launched the project startup and provided guidelines for the rest of the project activities. In July 2008, a fully equiped ICT centre was established in Fort Portal town. Currently, at least twently (20) young men and women involved in agriculture and agribusiness, IT sector (simple programming, website design, graphics, etc trainees enroll per month.The vision of the project is realizing a centre of excellence where young entrepreneurs and women are empowered with ICT4D knowledge and skills for socio-economic development of Toro region by the end of 2011.

The project was selected Finalist in the Economic Category of the 2008 prestigious Stockholm Challenge Competetion and has so far attracted other partners like Change IT Foundation – Netherlands, CTA, IDRC, HIVOS, IICD and several volunteers from Dutch Universities have facilitated trainings at the centre since its establishment.

We also use ICTs to advocate and for improved policies that support young entrepreneurs both at local and central government levels through building online networks and discussion forums that bring together the youth to interrect with their leaders. The centre also uses traditional ICT tools like the community radios to commuicate and disseminate information on marketing and access to services like credit schemes and “business process outsourcing" services.

2. Paese (Città / Regione)
3. Nome dell'organizzazione che presenta il progetto
Toro Development Network (ToroDev)
4. Tipo di organizzazione
Scegli tipo: 
Non Governmental Organization (NGO)*****
5. Coordinatore del progetto
Nome e Cognome: 
Johnstone Baguma
6. Website
Il sito web del progetto: 
7. Selezionate la categoria di appartenenza del vostro progetto
Youth Education Project. Select Project Users by age: 
Fino a 29 anni
Inserimento dei giovani nel mondo del lavoro: 
Inserimento dei giovani nel mondo del lavoro
Creatività e Innovazione sociale: 
NOT in Creativity and Social Innovation
8. Da quando è funzionante il vostro progetto?
9. Obiettivi ed elementi di innovazione
Please explain the targets and the background of your project: 

This project mainly targets young and women entrepreneurs who are the most marginalized groups in the rural Rwenzori region of Western Uganda. These two groups make up over 70% of the total population and the main source of labor for economic development. The youth who have completed their studies have no start-up capital and therefore need access to information about credit services and entrepreneurial skills to create their own income generating project and hence employ themselves. Rural women are unable to access and use relevant and timely information to improve on production, especially in the agriculture and agribusiness sector which directly and indirectly employs 80% of the population. This is because of gender imbalances that culturally exist among the Batooro of western Uganda.

Young people and rural women have limited access to the internet and power connectivity and such facilities require a lot of money which they do not have because of a high level of unemployment. Therefore, the establishment of an ICT4D Research and Resource Centre as a “public access point” was the major solution to their problems. They are able to use the centre service at a very subsidized or no cost ranging from daily newspapers with employment and marketing opportunities to online services like e-mailing, VoIP, chatting and other materials for improving their skills in small scale business development.

Please explain what is unique or special in your project: 

The ICT4D Research & Resource Centre addresses uniquely the issue of “Double Illiteracy” that is, basic illiteracy and ICT illiteracy among the youth and rural women. The centre uses both traditional ICTs like the Radio Broadcast and Modern ICT tools like the computers and Internet. Those who cannot use modern tools can be able to access information and other services on radio talk shows and live discussions to expand their knowledge to eradicate problems that have confined them in poverty for a long time.

Our approach is “bottom -up and demand –driven” service provision unlike most of the ICT projects around Uganda. We consider the needs of our target groups as first priority. We have encouraged our target groups to own the project themselves through membership and subscription. We also sell services and products to the public as a way of sustaining the project both socially and financially. Most of the public ICT4D training facilities and telecentres fail to be sustainable and close immediately after the initial external support in Uganda and the whole of the East African region. Kabarole Our project is sustained by members (about 30%) and the rest of other the operation costs are from internally generated revenues.

10. Risultati
Descrivete in quale modo il progetto ha ottimizzato la partecipazione di professionisti, ragazzi, giovani o altri soggetti: 

The centre has indeed encouraged the different groups of people in the community to appreciate the importance of being the sources of development information and knowledge sharing for sustainable livelihoods of our community. Both local and central government departments like District Information Offices, National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) Secretariat and National Meteorological Centre have subscribed to the centre by providing information materials both hard and soft copies. These institutions also attend live radio talk shows and discussions and entrepreneurship programmes organized by the centre management to improve skills of the unemployed youths and rural women. Schools have also taken the opportunity to arrange ICT training sessions/programmes at the centre. This has encouraged and addressed the problem of ICT illiteracy among the school going youths.

Private institutions like commercial banks and other Micro Deposit Institutions (MDIs) also use the centre to advertize their services and therefore expand the opportunities of the young entrepreneurs, unemployed youths fresh from school and rural women to interact with these institutions for possible access to credit facilities and how to use them well. Banks and MDI organized co-facilitate entrepreneurial trainings with centre management.

Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have been encouraged by the performance of the centre as the main hub for their target groups. The information about their activities in the region is always available at our centre. The centre’s and ToroDev website is currently under transformation into a modern Content management System (CMS) in order to publish accumulated information from all these institutions.

In summary, the presence of the ICT centre has promoted the “Multi Stakeholder Partnership” that includes the public, private and the civil society institutions that improve the entrepreneurial skills of the youths and women in the Rwenzori region of western Uganda.

Descrivete in quale modo il progetto favorisce l'uso delle nuove tecnologie da parte di professionisti, ragazzi e giovani per lo sviluppo culturale e didattico: 

Local schools organize ICT training sessions for their students with the centre management. This has contributed to reduction of ICT illiteracy among youths. Teachers also have found the centre a better place for their research and establishing networks with teachers around the country and internationally. Students from nearby universities (Mountains of the Moon University and Uganda Pentecostal University) greatly use the centre for online research because of fast and efficient internet connectivity (Broadband ADSL) compared to Leased Line Connectivity common at their universities.

11. Sostenibilità
Indicate la durata complessiva del progetto: 
Più di 6 anni
Indicate il costo di massima del vostro progetto (in Euro): 
Da 30.001 a 75.000
Come è finanziato il vostro progetto: 
Vendita di servizi o prodotti
Is your project economically self sufficient now: 
Insert date: 
12. Trasferibilità
Il progetto è stato replicato/adattato altrove: 

Community Based organizations like Rwenzori Information Centres’ Network (RIC-NET) an ICT4D community based organization in the Great Rwenzori region of Uganda, go to: http://www.ricnet.info is a good example. We are building capacity of its management to adopt our approach in its projects of establishing of rural information centres in Kyaka, Bundibugyo and improve one in Kamwenge district since all these proposed centres require active rural community involvement right from the beginning.
The Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), a gender and ICT advocacy NGO in Uganda and our key partner in Gender in ICT4D & Agribusiness Development, have also adopted our approach and they have embarked on establishing simple ICT centres for their women organizations. A good example is the Kubere Information Centre (KIC) in Apac district, Northern Uganda that is serves the rural women farmers.

In our partnership with SNV-The Netherlands Development Organization to establish Rural Information Systems (RIS) in the Rwenzori region, components of our project are applied. In this partnership, we are developing a “Marketing & Knowledge Sharing System” for the Rwenzori region farmers and all those involved in agribusiness sector in Uganda and East Africa. ToroDev leads this initiative under the chairmanship of Johnstone Baguma, Executive Director, ToroDev.

Che cosa possono imparare altri soggetti dal vostro progetto: 

We would like to inform all those interested in our project to understand that ICT4D can be relevant to the youths to get out of unemployment and marginalization if only these tools are customized to address the problem of “Double Illiteracy”. This calls for the combination of both traditional and modern tools. For the young people who have attained formal education it is much easier to be trained in modern ICT skills like use of computers and Internet, which is difficult for the youth who did not attain formal education. In this case, traditional tools like community radio broadcasts, discussion forums where their needs, practical skills and talents can be shared and packed in audio-visual formats can be helpful to facilitate knowledge sharing and transfer of skills.

A bottom-up, demand-driven ICT4D intervention is more friendly to the young people. They tend to only accept what they think will help them to meet their current demands. This is because the youth are quite transitional with their tastes varying at a high rate compared to other age-bracket groups. Our centre has always taken time to listen to them through forums to understand their needs and plan together how to engage the centre management to serve them properly. The project management can provide expertise in project concept adoption, monitoring and evaluation.

Siamo disponibili ad aiutare altri soggetti a sviluppare progetti o a migliorare progetti esistenti: 
Siamo disponibili ad aiutare altri soggetti a sviluppare progetti o a migliorare progetti esistenti.
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