SPINF Special Committee Pacific Island Digital Opportunity (PIDO) Study Committee Fact Finding Study in Vanuatu March 2007 Report on Findings Professor Kanji Saga Rieko Hayakawa Ian Thomson Table of Contents Fact Finding Study in Vanuatu .............................................................................. 1 Report on Findings ................................................................................................. 1 Table of Contents ....................................................................................................... 2 Executive Summary ................................................................................................... 3 Purpose of Visit.......................................................................................................... 3 Vanuatu and Our Hosts .............................................................................................. 4 Background ............................................................................................................ 4 Telecommunications .............................................................................................. 5 IT ............................................................................................................................ 5 Development and Aid ............................................................................................ 5 Telecommunication statistics ................................................................................. 5 Agenda ....................................................................................................................... 6 Notes on Meetings ..................................................................................................... 7 Summary of Findings ............................................................................................... 17 Opportunities for ICT Development Project............................................................ 18 Concluding Remarks ................................................................................................ 21 Executive Summary Following a request from the Vanuatu IT Users Society (VITUS), a team of three- experienced ICT for Development practitioners visited Vanuatu in March 2007. The team consisted of: - Professor Kenji Saga, an ICT policy advisor and academic and member of PIDO Rieko Hayakawa, Project Coordinator of SPINF Ian Thomson, 2020 Trust New Zealand, an NGO specialising in ICT for All in NZ and the Pacific Islands Meetings were arranged with a number of Government Departments, Industry and NGOs and a visit to a remote village was included to gauge “on the ground” issues. Overall, the team found that Vanuatu is well prepared to commence a rollout of Grass Roots ICT projects. This observation is based on the following A willing Government who is introducing Telecommunications Policy reform and an e-Government program Strong NGOs who are currently running successful grass roots programs Good ICT capability (at least in Port Vila) Good local content and programs to deliver government and other important information. A growing interest in ICTs in remote villages The team feels that adding ICT to existing projects will make them more effective by widening their coverage and enabling them to deliver timely and relevant information. The team visited the village of Loltong on Pentecost Island and found it to be well prepared for ICTs, meeting many of the critical requirements for a successful and sustainable ICT project. The team has suggested that Loltong be developed as a model for a “fully connected” remote village and that a phased project be planned and funding applied for. The team wishes to thank all people and organizations that helped in arranging the visit and who gave their time freely. Purpose of Visit “Investigate Potential for Grass Roots rural ICT Development Project in Vanuatu” This visit follows a specific invitation by the Chair of the Vanuatu Information Technology Users Society (VITUS), Mr Andrew Molivurae. Mr Molivurae attended the PacINET 2006 Annual Meeting in Samoa where a demonstration WIFI Broadband network was built and a school on a remote island was connected. Mr Molivurae was keen to see if a similar project could be run with VITUS in Vanuatu and specifically invited Professor Saga and Mr Thomson to investigate the local conditions to see if such a project would be possible. Mr Thomson made a preliminary visit in November 2006 and this fact-finding visit was to follow up on the findings of his first visit. Mr Thomson was also asked to present the One Laptop per Child program being developed for the Oceania region. Vanuatu and Our Hosts Background Vanuatu has 83 tropical islands and is located in central Melanesia. Its neighbours are New Caledonia in the South, the Solomon Islands in the North and PNG in the west. The Islands were known as the New Hebrides and obtained independence in 1980 The population is approximately 175,000 with some of the most diverse languages and cultures in any country. Development is largely limited to the two main islands of Efate (where the capital Port Vila is located) and Santo, the largest island. Outside main centres there is no mains power, little running water, only poorly maintained unsealed roads and mostly only limited (and expensive) telephone service. Larger villages have some schools, but many families cannot afford the school fees. In most islands, there is little economy, no cash and subsistence living is the norm. The national airline and local shipping service most islands. The political climate is fairly stable and there is a growing tourist economy Our host, the Vanuatu Information Technology Users Society (VITUS), is a newly formed NGO with 130 members, some located outside Vanuatu. Mr Andrew Molivurae is a Ni Vanuatu and has been the acting chair for 2 years. He is currently the IT Support Manager for the Ministry of Finance. Mr Dan McGary, the Secretary, is a Canadian who has worked with NGOs and Industry in Vanuatu. He is currently the Operations Manager of the largest IT Company in Port Vila, Computer Network Services (CNS) Both gentlemen went out of their way to arrange our visit and agenda and were very helpful in arrangeing meetings and explaining the local situation. VITUS is an active organisation and consists of almost every IT professional in Vanuatu, many of which are Government employees. They are highly respected by the Government and have access to Ministers and Director Generals of key Government ministries. Telecommunications The Government of Vanuatu, Cable and Wireless and France Telecom jointly own Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL). It has a 20-year exclusive license to provide all commercial Telecommunications services and maintains control of spectrum, domain names and ISPs. It operates the international gateway (satellite), landline telephony, limited ADSL, limited WIMAX, a 2nd Generation GSM network and the only commercial ISP. The license expires in 2012. Like all Telco monopolies, it has not been innovative and has failed to deliver affordable services and adequate coverage and access. The Government is keen to change this situation and to introduce competition. Telecom has taken the Government to court over its plans to introduce competition, however the court decided (under appeal) that under certain conditions, the Government could introduce a competitive operator. A second International operator is now operating and Digicell is close to gaining a license to operate a second mobile network The government is considering introducing a new Telecommunications policy, which it hopes to have passed into legislation shortly. IT There is a rapidly growing IT business in Port Vila, mostly around the Government, but also with private companies. Each major Government agency has its own IT section with LANS, WANS, web pages and are beginning e-Government activities. Vanuatu is a tax haven and the Ministry of Finance has good IT infrastructure to support overseas clients. There are approximately 6 IT companies in Port Vila and as many Internet Cafes (mainly for tourists, but also for the general public and those who do not own their own computer.) Approximately 5 schools in Port Vila have Computer labs and many others have a PC for administration. The Ministry of Education has formed a committee to investigate the use of ICTs for schooling. Development and Aid Vanuatu receives quite a lot of aid from various donors and development agencies. It was beyond the scope of this visit to identify all active donors and projects, however we did come across the following agencies Aus Aid New Zealand Aid, Japanese Aid (through JIKA, and the embassy in Fiji) Chinese Government OXFAM Australia SPINF Japan Telecommunication statistics In a meeting with the CEO of TVL, the following statistics were revealed Wireline. 7,000 phone lines, 2,000 Internet subscribers in Port Vila and Santo (650 via DSL, the rest are dial up). TVL offers a free Internet package (dial up) for schools and a general discount of 30% on all services for NGOs. All ISP services have data and speed caps and also time restrictions. A Night and weekend DSL package costs USD $65/Month Wirerless. TVL is trialling WIMAX in Port Vila and has plans to aggressively roll it out to most islands as a replacement for copper (for voice and internet). Cellular. TVL operate a 2G GSM network with a population coverage of 60,000. They have 22,000 pre paid customers and 1,300 post paid. (about 11% penetration). SMS (Txt messaging) is very popular with per message rates that are lower than in France. TVL have plans to roll out most 2G Orange services available in France, including a “home zone” GSM/WIFI service TVL do not provide mobile internet service such as GPRS. They will not upgrade the network to 3G, preferring to use WIMAX for mobile data Transmission Network. The international bandwidth is provided by satellite, with capacity of 33Mb (it was 8.5 Mb 18 months ago, showing a strong growth) The main high-speed link is between Port Vila and Santos. Again, the demand has risen rapidly and TVL plans to double the existing 34 Mb link. There are no plans to deploy submarine fibre cable. Remote Service. TVL plans to roll out 50-60 remote VSAT/WIFI stations for remote villages of around 300 people. It will be a pre paid scratch card service. Fiji Telecom will supply the VSAT managed service and hub. Agenda The agenda for the week was fairly flexible, depending on local developments. We tried to meet as many key players from the Government, Industry and NGOs as possible. The following is the actual meetings that took place. (Note that meetings with Ministers were scheduled, however, parliament was sitting on the week we visited and a motion of no confidence was tabled, keeping all ministers very busy.) Date Time Meeting Reason 17th 3.00 PM VITUS Arrive in Port Vila, discussion on March visit. 18th 3.00 PM Loltong Youth Centre, Visit Youth Center, meet organising March Pentecost Island committee 19th 4.00 PM Vanuatu Rural Development Discussion on rural training and PF March and Training Centres Net Association (VRDTCA) 20th 8.00 AM VITUS Plan for presentation and meetings March 10.00 AM Ministry of Finance, Director Discuss OLPC, joining APT, ICT General policy and Telecentre project 12.00 Noon Public presentation at USP Present OLPC Project 2.00 PM Ministry of Infrastructure Discussion on APT, OLPC, E-Govt and Public Utilities, Director and Telco policy and regulation General 3.30 PM TVL, CEO and Operations Discussion on network Statistics, Manager plans and co-operation 21st 10.00 AM JICA Discussion of funding possibilities March for grass roots ICT project 12.00 Noon USP, Head of Law School SPINF funding and programs, ICT and Coordinator/Supervisor infrastructure and distance education USP Community Legal Centre 4.00 PM Vanuatu Rural Development Discussion on remote education and and Training Centres PF Net Association Metrological Service, Discussion on RADNET Project Director 22nd 10.00 AM Vanuatu Culture Centre, Culture content and heritage March Secretary General, Pacific preservation training. Islands Museums Association 12.00AM USP, Director Distance and OLPC and Telecentres for distance Flexible learning learning. 23rd 9.00 - 2.00 VITUS Wrap up and Telecentre project March discussion 4.00PM Wan Smolbag Theatre, Discussion on Loltong and OLPC Director Notes on Meetings The following is a brief summary of the important facts/issues and discussions held at each of the meetings Loltong Youth Centre. The youth centre has been running very successfully for several years, under the management of Wan Smolbag with funding from OXFAM. It consists of a large well built house with one large and two small rooms. There is no reticulated power in the village of Loltong and the centre has its own generator, batteries and inverter. The centre runs community education and entertainment sessions and when we arrived in the afternoon of Sunday; about 50 people were sitting inside watching a Hollywood movie. The organising committee explained that each morning they run movies and DVDs for children, followed by youth programs (HIV Aids information for example) and then programs suitable for adults (Domestic violence plays and films for example) Many children do not attend school, as their parents cannot afford the school fees and Wan Smolbag has developed programs for such children and youth and have developed a wide range of material for remote villages. The Committee was very articulate and demonstrated the computers and showed good understanding of basic word, file management and playing DVDs. They did mention that they wanted Internet connection to the centre, but were waiting on Telecom to provide a phone line and dial up modem. They are currently expanding their activities to include two Mini MAC computers and a new cooking center for teaching better cooking and nutrition. We also talked with the Village chief who offered his land for the centre. He is well respected in the village and has the drive to make changes. Overall, the centre was very impressive and is being run quite successfully. We did establish that “Line of Sight” from the centre to the Island of Ambae is possible, an estimated 25Kms distance. The centre itself is approximately 150 M above sea level and has a good clearing to the north side of the building that would be suitable for a solar panel installation. Vanuatu Rural Development and Training Centres Association (VRDTCA) The Manager of VRDTCA, Kathy Solomon, met to discuss rural training and the PF Net project that they are running. VRDTCA has a large network of training centres throughout Vanuatu and are keen to use ICTs to improve their program. They are considered to be a very successful NGO in Vanuatu and are keen to work with other NGOs to improve education in Vanuatu. A map of their centres is shown below. VRDTCA is currently setting up the PF Net project, modelled on the successful Solomon’s project (An HF Radio/email solution with stations in remote islands). They have arranged two visits by Solomon PF Net experts, have funding from Japan via UNDP, have hired a building to set up a central PF Net station in Port Vila and have hired a project manager. They are keen to share resources with other ICT initiatives and will develop good technical support capability in Vanuatu and remote islands. Any Telecentre initiative should link in with PF Net to compliment both projects. Ministry of Finance. We met with Mr Benjamin Shing, Director of the Ministry (second only to the Minister) and Patrick Shing, ICT Advisor. Benjamin is highly regarded as an exemplarily public servant and has strong ethics and a quick mind. He had been briefed on the two main topics of or meeting, the OLPC program and the proposed Telecentre project. Mr Sing advised that the Government is planning new Telecommunications Policy in conjunction with IMF and WDB. The policy is developed and will be ratified by the Ministers with new legislation planned for mid 2007. My Singh was keen to see that any ICT initiatives were conducted in the framework of the new Policy and suggested that the Government could conduct pilots and then hand over the rollout to NGOs. Mr Singh had many question about OLPC and the Telecentre project and concluded that he was cautiously interested to proceed with the initiatives. He is keen to see PF Net succeed before launching new initiatives. Patrick Shing would be allocated responsibility for the ongoing work. Professor Saga raised the possibility of Vanuatu joining APT, pointing out the many benefits that Vanuatu could receive. Mr Sing was keen to receive help from APT, especially when it came to implementing the new policies and was keen to joint APT. He mentioned that he may be in Bangkok in August for the opening of the new embassy and could meet with APT executives while there. He is keen for the Government of Vanuatu to join APT. Based on the report of Professor Saga, APT and the Government of Vanuatu have started communication on the participation of Vanuatu to become a member of APT. Public Presentation at the University of South Pacific Mr Thomson made a two-hour presentation and questions/answer session of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) initiative and the plan for a regional wide program to distribute the laptops. The program aims to provide basic education to the 50% of Pacific Island youth who do not attend school. Professor Saga was very supportive of the initiative as it addresses the key issue of the cost of access to ICTs and encourages life long learning Several issues for investigation were raised, including The constructionalist/collaborative learning model being appropriate in Vanuatu, i.e. does it fit in with village education models That ICTs and children “owning” things are both foreign to Villagers Power issues, not just for the laptop, but for other ICT equipment Training and technical support in remote villages Ongoing cost, especially of VSAT A technology “lock in” to OLPC Other ministries like health and emergency services using the technology Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities We met with Mr Johnston Iauma, the Acting Director who explained that his ministry was responsible for Telecommunications policy and that his group had prepared a concept paper for reform of the Telecommunications Regulations in Vanuatu. The new regulations will introduce competition and a new regulatory body. The legislation is likely to be introduced to parliament on the August sitting. He mentioned that his ministry has little experience in ICT Policy and regulation and is keen to seek help The Government is also working on an e-Government strategy, which is in the planning stages. Mr Iauma attended a Telecommunications Regulatory conference in Fiji in 2006 and was introduced to APT at that conference. He has made a recommendation to join and will now follow that up with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is keen to join and would like assistance in the new policy and regulatory work. Mr Iauma mentioned that his ministry has just received approval for funding from the Chinese Government to build a Government high speed ICT network, linking all Government offices in Vanuatu. He indicated that all schools, health centres and NGOs would have access to this network. He said there would be no linking to TVL’s commercial network. Mr Iauma was quite keen for the Government to pick up the OLPC and Telecentre pilot projects and for NGOs to be partners in their implementation. He saw Telecentres as a “public service” and there fore should be linked to the new Government network. Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL) The CEO of TVL, Mr Michelle Dupris and the Marketing Manager Mr Fred Samual met with us and presented many statistics and plans for TVL. Much of the information is presented in the above section in Telecommunications Statistics, however the general thrust of TVL is to invest vigorously in renewing and expanding their wireline network using WIMAX, and increasing cellular coverage to 70% of the population and introducing new services. TVL plans to invest 40% of their turnover in the next 3 years on infrastructure development. Their relationship with France Telecom means they get very good equipment prices and will introduce many of the same services France Telecom has. Mr Dupree mentioned that today, 84% of their revenue comes from Port Vila, but 64% of costs come from the rest of the country. He said that Santo breaks even and that all other services (they have telephones on 58 of the 80 islands) are loss makers. They have deliberately kept prices high for local services to subsidise loss-making services. TVL is considering a partnership with PF Net, but insists that it cannot offer commercial services. Mr Dupree strongly supported the OLPC initiative as part of their support for the education sector and would be happy to support training and pilots as he sees this is generating future customers. JICA Andrew Molivurae, Rieko Hayakawa and Kenji Saga met with Mr. Omachi Toshiyuki, JICA Volunteer Programme Coordinator, at JICA Vanuatu Office. JICA Vanuatu Office is in charge of the following programmes. JOCV (Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers) Senior Volunteer Expert Dispatch Training Grant Aid (General, Fisheries, Food Aid, Increased Food production) Project type Technical Cooperation Follow-Up programme Disaster Relief At present, JICA activities in Vanuatu are mainly education and health care sector. 19 JOCV volunteers (almost school teachers) are working in Vanuatu mostly in education sector. Most of them are working at elementary schools, but one is at Teachers College. In the IT sector, 3 senior volunteers are working, one at USP, one at Ministry of Tourism and one at Public Service Commission. Disaster Management programme will become important part of JICA activities in Vanuatu. As for Grass-root ODA programme for overseas NGO, the Embassy of Japan in Fiji has administrative responsibility. So, Application Forms for Grass-root ODA should be submitted to the Embassy of Japan in Fiji directly (not via JICA Office in Vanuatu). However, Mr. Omachi told us that JICA Office in Vanuatu is ready to have a consulting work for preparing application form. In the evaluation process at the Embassy of Japan in Fiji, the JICA Office in Vanuatu will be able to make a comment on the proposed project. Professor Saga, as an advisor to JICA Head Office on ICT project formation, introduced Mr. Andrew Molivurae, Chair of VITUS to Mr. Omachi and asked him to give advice on preparing application form for Grass-root ODA. USP We met with the Head of the Law School, Professor Brian Opskin and Sunita Bois- Shing, the Coordinator/Supervisor of the USP Community Legal Centre. Prof Opskin was complimentary of the support of SPINF and mentioned other opportunities of support. The issue with Fiji at present is causing difficulties with funding and is causing USP to consider a more decentralised approach. He mentioned a growing number of On-line students (currently at 50%) and the increasing problems with limited bandwidth and remote access. USP Vanuatu has a leading role in distance and remote education and has good support systems. Currently USP Vanuatu has only 6 computers for students in the library, however they are building a new Computer Lab for graduates. USP Vanuatu has a centre on Santo Island and a smaller one on Tanna. Ms Sunita Bois-Shing showed us around the Commuity Law Centre where the best law students give free legal help to those who cannot afford legal representation. She showed an impressive array of information brochures on many legal issues and was keen to develop an On-line library for wider distribution. The centre is looking for 4 new computers, as their current ones are quite old. We returned at a later date to meet with Mr John Pierre, the Director of the Distance and Flexible Learning Centre. He was quite busy, however he is very interested in the OLPC program and Telecentres and saw great potential for their use in distance education. He mentioned that USP has several remote learning centres with dial up Internet access to USP Net. These support a growing number of rural students, however the service is very slow and restricts learning. He sees better ICTs as key to improving education, especially in remote and rural areas. Vanuatu Metrological Service Mr Jotham Napat is the Director of the service and introduced us to a RANET (Radio Internet) Pilot he has been running for two years. RANET is an international initiative, started in Africa, to disseminate important Metrological and climate information to rural communities. A description of the project is available at http://www.research.noaa.gov/spotlite/archive/spot_ranet.html RANET works with various partners to create the RANET Multi-Media Climate Information Pages made available via the WorldSpace Foundation's Africa Learning Channel (ALC) digital radio satellite broadcast. In a format analogous to surfing the Internet, but viewed from a local disk-drive after downloading content from a satellite, the broadcast allows the user to view graphic and bandwidth intensive material. The information carried on the broadcast includes bulletins, reports, observations, satellite imagery, and other products of national hydro- meteorological services, which are considered part of the public domain. Sending up to 4mb nearly every hour, the RANET multi-media pages are delivered via the satellite and a special digital receiver that places content directly on the hard drive of a user's computer. The information can then be examined at the recipient’s leisure and without the wait or barrier often associated with downloading bandwidth intensive material over the Internet. The system is capable of carrying text and image based material as well as video and audio material. Since it is based on Internet technologies, there is also the potential for developing highly interactive content, which might be used to further the training efforts of RANET. The project delivers a “Suitcase Solution” as shown below. Mr Napat is pictured below showing the suitcase part of the project The suitcase includes VSAT receiver CPU (Computer running XP), including LCD screen and waterproof key board HF radio email AM/FM low power radio station with microphone AM/FM radio receiver and rebroadcast Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) Not included in the photo, but part of the solution is a C Band Satellite receiver (down link only), a solar panel/battery power supply and a 25 Meter telescoping antenna with guys. The project also distributes a wind-up/solar charge radio/torch to villages to allow them to listen to the radio broadcasts. In principal, any content can be downloaded and stored on the CPU, so there is potential to distribute other important community information like public health, education, emergency services etc. The Pilot has been successfully running for two years and equipment for a further 6 stations has been delivered and will be installed this year in every metrological station in Vanuatu. Generally, these are located at airports. Each station will report weather recordings via the email interface, which will be automatically loaded into the Global Weather Network database in Melbourne. The system is capable of generating disaster warnings, which will trigger alarms in the station and in the remote radio stations. The Vanuatu Metrology Service is keen to work with other ICT projects that will provide wider access to their important information. They are also keen to work with other government agencies to distribute their information. Vanuatu Cultural Centre (VCC) and Pacific Islands Museum Association (PIMA) The team met with Ms Meredith Blake, the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Museum Association and Mr Abong Marcellin, the Director of the VCC. The Cultural Centre is considered the most successful museum in the South Pacific Islands and features a large and well-presented display of local culture. They have been recording local cultural events since 1975 using 130 local volunteers and have more than 2,000 audiocassette tapes and 1,000 Videotapes. They are currently archiving them but have no resources to digitise the content. The Centre has a charter to promote local language, culture and heritage and has some community centres spread out in the islands to re-educate villagers in their local traditions and customs. There is a centre near the Loltong Youth Centre. The museum also arranges radio and TV broadcasts of content and is keen to explore how such material could be made available in any Telecentre and OLPC projects. Ms Blake, an Australian volunteer paid by Aus Aid, said that the Association had a goal of developing a database of all Pacific Islands Cultural items held in the Pacific with the possibility of developing a virtual Museum. Wan SmolBag Theatre Ms Helen Corrigan, the Director of WSB, has overall responsibility for the Loltong Youth Center. WSB is a very successful NGO that has been running for 15 years, starting as a community group using theatre to deliver social messages. It has developed into an internationally recognised organisation and is called to travel internationally 2-3 times a year to help communities develop programs that address social issues. Generally they develop and produce a play around an issue, then hold workshops on the messages. They have developed many DVD resources, have centres in many islands and offer basic education to children who cannot afford to go to school. Their main centre in Port Vila is in the poor Black Sands area. WSB is held in high esteem by the Government and have an established network and good governance model, so they make an ideal partner for any ICT initiative. Ms Corrigan was keen to support the Telecentre project at Loltong and could easily establish and manage a new project to build a Telecentre at the Loltong Youth Centre. She was also very interested in the OLPC project and immediately saw a practical use for the laptops. WSB currently runs a basic literacy program for young Port Vila children that do not attend school. She thought that the class of 10 children aged between 6-10 would be an ideal pilot. Summary of Findings The team visited many very interesting development agencies and projects and found that there are excellent opportunities to add an ICT element to already successful projects to increase the reach and effectiveness There is strong support for ICTs for development, especially Telecentres and the OLPC program, both in the Government, industry and NGOs The team was impressed by the potential for inclusion of local content, both cultural, educational and government information, in any ICT project. Successful networks into remote communities do exist, including USP, VRDTC, WSB, Department of Metrology, and these can be used to develop wide spread ICT access and training. The potential of cheap new technologies including broadband access, solar power, OLPC and VSAT make accessing remote villages achievable. Opportunities for ICT Development Project Based on good practice in using ICT for development, the team recommends the following principles be included in any rural ICT project A community with a vision and a champion committed to making changes A champion that knows about ICTs and can address local issues A sustainable power solution Involvement of community leaders and active volunteers from initial stage Powerful leadership with careful management Information sharing and exchange of experiences among active players High speed connectivity Locally relevant content Local training, technical support and capacity building. A model that is replicable throughout the country and Pacific Island region with flexible adjustments to meet specific local needs and characteristics of each site. Set in the framework of the National ICT Policy/Strategy and implementation plan Vision An appropriate vision for an ICT project may be that every villager has access to timely and relevant information. Scope To develop a good model to deploy ICTs in rural and remote Vanuatu villages Project Suggestion The team recommends the most successful candidate for a rural ICT project is the Loltong Village. There is a very successful Youth Centre already operating, a dedicated and ICT literate committee, strong support by the Village Chief, good support from WSB and a Broadband connection is possible. They have already expressed a need to connect to the Internet. The map below shows the location of Loltong on the North West of Pentecost Island and also the point of Broadband access on the North tip of Ambae at Navonda, where there is an airstrip. The team suggests that such a project be scoped, a project plan and budget prepared and a submission for funding be made. VITUS is an appropriate organisation to take on such a project, working in partnership with WSB, PF Net and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities. A project aim could be to develop Loltong as a model “fully connected” village. Funding The team recommends that that the project applies for funding from the Japanese Government through their Grass roots Initiative funding. Applications should be made to the Japanese Embassy in Fiji, with consultation and support from the JICA Office in Vanuatu and the PIDO Committee (SPINF). A later funding option is APT's Rural Pilot Project Program after Vanuatu becomes a member of APT. Broadband Connection. The team suggests that broadband connectivity be supplied from the Government Network hub located on Ambae at Navonda. The team recommends Rural Link provide the solution, as they are experienced at deploying such solutions in the Pacific Islands. Due to the difficult access to Loltong, the Team suggests a “Whole Village” approach be taken to building the broadband infrastructure in the initial phase of the project. This could include wireless coverage for the two neighbouring villages and other organizations such as schools and colleges, medical centres etc. Phase 1. Youth Centre It is suggested that the Youth Centre be the first phase of the project. A suggested scope for the Loltong Youth Centre would include a broadband WIFI connection from the Government network at Ambae, up to 10 computers and a printer and projector connected to a LAN, solar power to mesh with the existing power system and technical support from PF Net and training by WSB. Careful consideration should be given to including a server with local content from other ICT initiatives such as WSB material, the Metrology RANET project and cultural content from the Cultural Centre and legal information from USP. USP could also use the Centre as a remote access campus for students. Note that the RANET project will install a station at the airport on Ambae and the project should investigate connecting to that centre to gain access to the content from RANET. Additional Phases The inclusion of a community radio component should be considered. Many villagers will not develop computer literacy skills and information gleaned from the Internet could be broadcast in the local language. As a model for a fully connected Village, a pilot OLPC project should be considered Other village buildings could be connected as they become ready for ICT connection. E.g. the Medical centre could be taught how to access health information on the network and provide community health education training, the schools and colleges could teach Computer skills to youth and then provide them access to educational reference material. New connections to the network could be made without needing installation experts. The project should include training of local people to install and maintain the network. Action Plan It is suggested that the following actions should be undertaken by VITUS (but not limited to these items) 1) Drafting the "Loltong Pilot Project" development plan including grand design and implementation plan. 2) Evaluation of the most appropriate source of broadband and Internet access on Ambae. This could be provided by TVL or from the planned Government network. 3) Liaison with appropriate Government agencies, NGOs, villagers and other “partners” to the project. Concluding Remarks The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance the delegation received from the Sasakawa Pacific Islands Nation Fund. Without their kind assistance, the visit could not have taken place and the sharing of experiences and information would have been severely limited. It is hoped to continue and develop the relationships developed over the week of the visit to scope out an appropriate ICT Development project and to apply for appropriate funding, most likely through the Grass Roots Fund. The Team is willing to assist in the development and running of this project in any way it can.
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