Thursday, October 30, 2014
What is happening around the corner, what is the latest local news? We check the Internet and we are up to speed. This is not common practice in DR Congo. The people in the country have little or no access to the Internet, while information and particularly news about the immediate vicinity is incredibly important when you live amongst armed conflicts, like they do in DR Congo. Free Press Unlimited is working together with the Open Technology Institute to set up a mesh network. This is an alternative Internet with which citizens are still in contact with each other and share and receive important news and information.

Can you give me...

A map of the city, newspaper articles, university publications and a chat service; these are all examples of what the participants want to share with each other and with the rest of the community via a mesh network. In October, over 40 people participated in a workshop in Bukavu to set up a mesh network together. Journalists, ICT people, bloggers and students took part. It is important that the future users develop the network themselves, because it is not possible to determine an ‘owner’. A mesh network is created by the people and for the people who use it.

Mesh network connects and informs

A mesh network is a stable and open network that links computers and telephones and provides users access to the information on the network. Via strategically placed antennas, users are in direct contact with all users of a local mesh network. Contradictory to the regular Internet, the exchange of information does not take place via a provider or other intermediaries. This is a good solution for the people of DR Congo who, due to poor infrastructure, hardly have access to important information from the immediate vicinity.

DR Congo, Bukavu, mesh netwerk

Building a mesh in DR Congo

Not only radio stations, but also universities and government authorities have a lot of information and news to offer the people of Bukavu and it is important that these places are part of the mesh network. Together, the participants listed the points in the area that have to be linked to each other in order to cover a relevant and substantial part of the community.

The participants are ready for the next step: the actual realisation of a mesh network by installing the necessary equipment and in doing so, connecting the people of Bukavu and providing access to important information.