William M. Tellis
Implementation of Internet and Videoconferencing in Rural Senegal
Fairfield University received a grant from USAID in 2010 to assist the partner university in Senegal, Université Alioune Diop Bambey (UADB), a rural institution with four campuses. Fairfield University was asked to develop the faculty skills in Service Learning and to enhance UADB's networking and technology infrastructure, where possible. None of the local Internet Service Providers (ISP) were interested in expanding their service to the rural campuses and their Information and Computer Technology (ICT) infrastructure was inadequate at best, but our mandate was to interconnect the four campuses. Within the first two years of the grant, the ISP brought the signal to the Bambey campus and Mr. Seck used the available USAID funds to acquire needed devices so that WiFi was installed and available across the entire campus. The following year, during the sabbatical of Fairfield University Professor Tellis, special antennae were identified and acquired that could transmit the signal from Bambey to a remote campus over 30 miles away. That campus also soon had WiFi available and now Mr. Seck was able to acquire the devices needed to transmit Videoconference sessions, thereby saving the faculty from driving to the remote campus over unpaved trails. Mr. Seck now wishes to use the Service Learning training provided by Fairfield University at Bambey to engage a local High School in learning the use of computers for educational purposes. Since gasoline is very expensive in Senegal, and transportation is difficult, Mr. Seck intends to have his university students use the Internet connection (which will be extended to the High School) and instruct and assist the school students using a application such as Skype or Open Source tools such as Bigbluebutton. This paper presents the technical details of the network and the specifications of components needed to accomplish the task. It is a creative and encouraging use of the Jesuit concept of Service Learning adapted to the realities of the Sub-Saharan constraints.