About the CWRC Project

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This project arose out of the need to reduce the high cost of connectivity in IDRC-supported Telecentres in Uganda, and to explore optimal connectivity models such as sharing the existing
bandwidth with neighboring institutions via outdoor wireless networks. It was anticipated that by managing collectively the costs of connectivity at each Telecentre, more institutions could get access to Internet without heavy initial investments in satellite hardware and subscriptions.

The aim of this initiative is to make connectivity more affordable for Telecentres by implementing a communication infrastructure that is shared and managed by the community. Such concept is known as “Community Wireless Network”, and it is based on the possibility for
groups or communities to build self owned and operated networks. Hence, the projects would be in line with Uganda’s rural communication development priority of “affordable communication services for all”.

The general objective of the project is to provide or enhance sustainable Internet connectivity infrastructure, particularly in rural or under served areas in Uganda, by means of wireless technology.

The project proposes the establishment of an Ugandan Community Wireless Resource Center (CWRC) under the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Makerere University. The “Center” will implement community wireless networks, train students and technical staff and
provide follow-up support and maintenance of such networks.

The Center will work towards the integration of Community Wireless Networks into the existing courses at the Department (Wireless Propagation and Introduction to Information and Communication Technologies) by 2006/2007 and offer a fully fledged course in Community

Wireless Networks in the second semester of the 2007/2008 academic year. A total of six community wireless networks, consisting of approximately 30 operational radio links, will be designed and implemented in three regions of Uganda. Furthermore, business
models for each network will be proposed so these are sustainable over time.

The Center will provide training to at least to 50 technical staff at the Telecentres and partners to troubleshoot and provide basic maintenance of the wireless networks. Similarly, two workshops targeting 25 teachers and students of Universities and Technical Schools in Uganda in wireless internetworking are planned.
In order to gain adequate knowledge in wireless networks, it is expected that the technical staff of the Center will undertake comprehensive from an external IDRC consultant.

The project will be led by the Project Director Dr. Dorothy Kabagaju Okello whose main responsibility will be project management, procurements and workshops logistics. The Program Officers' role will be to handle technical planning and participate during implementations in field. A full-time technical Officer, not yet identified, will manage all technical aspects on a daily basis.

Three 3rd year students will, together with the Center's staff, carry out and document the field implementations after receiving tailor-made training from an external consultant. Two of those students, will continue to work in the project during the following academic year.