ICT Brings Students and Communities Together in the DR Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is one of Africa’s most conflict-ridden and war-torn countries. Covering a vast expanse of over 900,000 square miles (the same as two-thirds of the European Union), the country holds a rich store of minerals. But, tragically, this abundance of resources fuels fire for hostile war. Civil war, genocide, and mass rape have all contributed to the brutality many have seen during the DR Congo’s history. In addition, corruption is extremely common and, according to the United States Institute of Peace, the DR Congo ranks at the bottom for every corruption index. Although its people are incredibly resilient, the country continues to suffer from poor infrastructure and weak governmental organizations.
Inveneo’s Manager of Special Projects, Jill Costello, traveled last month to DR Congo knowing it would be a challenge. But she arrived with her sleeves rolled up and ready to get to work.
Inveneo teamed up with United Methodist Communications (UMCom) and Steve Bryant from the General Board of Discipleship to begin building a power and financially sustainable Computer Center serving three institutions of higher learning in Kamina. Currently, Kamina Methodist University (KMU) is unable to offer students in its ICT program a functioning computer lab, a loss which results in the inability to do hands-on work to support their theoretical learnings. Once completed, however, the Computer Center will be used by KMU students, the Health Sciences College, the Teachers College, and local community members as a place to gather knowledge and build skills. It will serve 1,000 people!
On behalf of Inveneo, Jill travelled to Kamina to discuss the technical nature of the ICT project with academic and local community members. Along with UMCom and Steve Bryant, she hosted presentations and meetings for IT and general faculty at KMU and interested community members in order to listen to and truly understand their needs. The team also worked to identify an ideal location for the Center and to begin to determine suitable computing equipment for challenging environments such as these.
But there is still work to be done. In order for the Computer Center to come to fruition, the Kamina community must meet and expand upon the business plan in development. The Center will bring in funds to cover staff salaries, provide for additional computing purchases, and replace equipment when needed.
The Inveneo team will continue to help guide and contribute to this building process. Inveneo is currently recommending what equipment is needed and appropriate for the new Center (both solar and computing equipment). In addition, it is researching French-based University-level IT content that will eventually be used offline by KMU. Relevant content should be available for use by late 2014. Communication and development on both sides of the Atlantic will continue to push the project forward.
Our team welcomed the opportunity to partner with UMCom, Steve Bryant, university-level and local community leaders in Kamina on this meaningful project in the DR Congo. We look forward to continue bringing online connections and educational resources to the many students and community members in Kamina!
Learn how you can partner with Inveneo in this project by visiting our Donate page.