CONNECTING THE UNCONNECTED
Capacity Building Project
Athi Community Network is a participant in the community networks development program for micro/local level organizations. This is a program within the “Connecting the Unconnected: Supporting community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives” project being implemented by the Association of Progressive Communications in partnership with Rhizomatica, it aims to directly support the development of community networks. The goal is to address the human capacity and sustainability challenges, along with the policy and regulatory obstacles, that limit the growth of community-based connectivity initiatives. The project which runs in 5 countries namely Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Indonesia and Brazil is financially supported by the UK government.
Supporting Community-led Approaches to Addressing the Digital Divide: Micro-Organisation Work Implementation for Community Networks Project.
Athi Community Network CBO is based in Athi Market along the Mikinduri-Maua Highway Igembe South, Meru County, Kenya. Our capacity building project coordinated under Work Package 2 had an emphasis on consolidating, through training our members on relevant technical and business management skills. It was implemented with support from Tunapanda Kibera CBO, the meso organization in Kenya.
“The training was open to Athi Community Network CBO members and other community members selected by the group. Education level,Gender, Ethnicity and Disability were not a hindrance in being accepted to the training.”
Photo:Trainees during a breakout Session
Athi Community Network CBO seeks to transform our community socio-economically using technology anchored on low cost internet. The Work Package two program objectives are aligned perfectly with Athi Community Network’s philosophy. We elected to train members and other community members on core skills required for our community-based connectivity initiative. Technical skills and institutional strengthening are key cogs in the overall goal of achieving technology autonomy and sustainability.We sought to fill vital skill gaps within our organization and the wider community that are essential for our community network to become viable.
Training Thematic Focus
The Technician training was designed for 20 trainees drawn from Athi Community Network and any community member interested. We reached out to individuals from different areas within our sub county and the response was very positive.Overall we exceeded our target but the training quality was not compromised. 5 Members of AthiCN trained on institutional strengthening.The program was fully sponsored and we elected to focus on the training on the following areas.
1. Computer Networks
The internet is an interconnection of various networks.A computer network is a set of computers sharing resources located on or provided by network nodes. The Trainees were required to demonstrate practically how to set up a computer Network and share resources via the same.
2. General Electronics
The trainee cohort were required to repair basic electronic faults of various devices such as laptops, PCs and such like. Special emphasis was placed on identifying the faults and appropriate remedies to take. Safety when handling electronics and electricity was also emphasized.
3. Institution Strengthening
Organization sustainability is pegged upon understanding the legal framework which it operates and financial literacy.Athi Community Network members were trained on Financial literacy and complying with Government Policy.
Structured Cabling was a topic that elicited alot of interest from learners as it was a new domain for most of them.
For Technology to be truly ubiquitous and the internet accessible to all, the community must be able to maintain and own their own infrastructure. The Capacity building training has achieved the following for our organization and the larger community.
“I am a small scale trader, I joined Athi community Network as a member in 2021.Our Team Leader encouraged me to learn as much as possible during the Capacity Building Training. I enrolled on the financial literacy and Networking class. From the training i can comfortably terminate a copper and fiber optic cable, climb communication towers and also do basic book keeping and file statutory returns. From this training I have come to believe there is no limit to what one wants to become.”
“ I am originally from Kabras Kakamega County. I moved to Athi seeking casual employment 4 years ago as i was unable complete my secondary education. I joined AthiCN and the group has helped me grow in the Tech arena. Thanks to the Wp2 project, I can now repair electronic devices, troubleshoot office equipment and work with fiber optic and copper systems. I now repair mobile phones and willing to learn more. I now have the confidence to go deep into Tech and help our organization grow further”.
“I am a resident of Akachiu ward and i reside near Athi market. Prior to the wp2 project, I had not known much about Athi community Network. I have not gone through post secondary education and when the group invited me for the training i accepted. I am now a full member of the group and i can work as an ICT Technician.I am also learning how to become a software developer thanks to AthiCN.I believe we are on the cusp of something great as a group and a community.I am truly grateful for this opportunity”.
Meet The Trainers
We partnered with seasoned specialists in various fields for the desired results. The trainers embraced the community network paradigm and delivered more than was required of them.
Widening the Talent Pool
Meet Brian, a resident of Nceme in Akachiu ward and one of the beneficiaries of the APC sponsored training. The young man was not able to complete secondary education but heard about the project from peers. We discovered he is a truly gifted individual and was one of the standout trainees. He is now a member of Athi Community Network and the skills acquired will benefit himself, the organization and the wider Community.
Athi Community Network acknowledges the role the Association of Progressive Communications and partners played in this capacity building program and also their role in ensuring communities across the globe get access to the internet. Tunapanda institute, the Meso organization in Kenya played a great role in mobilizing and making the program in the Kenyan chapter a success. Our hosts, Athi Special school, also deserves special mention for hosting us during the training. The school is a public institution dealing with learners with physical and mental disabilities. Finally , a special mention for Dunia Moja, Ngarua Maarifa, Aheri, Oasis Mathare and Action Pour Le Progres Our peer Community Networks in Kenya and their role in making the program a success. We owe the financiers of the program, UKaid and their partners a great debt of gratitude without the funding, we would not be where we are.