Tich Siguake and I arrived in Arusha on the weekend to prepare for the start of our training workshop for ICT officers at Farm Radio International's HQ in Tanzania. We flew in to the exotic sounding Kilimanjaro airport at about 7pm where we were met by FRI's ICT and Radio Specialist, Bart Sullivan.
Our 40min drive in to Arusha on the dark, busy, tarred road to the city was a hair raising ride of zig zag driving, speed humps and near misses. FRI's Arusha office is located in the outlying suburb of Njilo with Mount Meru in the background and Kilimanjaro apparently visible on a clear day. It's the start of the rainy winter season here, so all around is green and most mornings start out under a canopy of grey cloud that burns off by afternoon.
The goal of our Freedom Fone Technical Administrators Training Workshop is to build the capacity of techies to provide local technical support for Freedom Fone in their home and neighbouring countries. This is part of Freedom Fone's strategy to encourage a distributed network of independent support providers.
At this week's workshop we have a very diverse African group with participants from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda. All are engaged as part or full time ICT support officers for community radio stations. Four are employed by FRI as ICT officers at regional offices in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi and Tanzania.
Thanks to FRI's positive experiences of deploying Freedom Fone at community radio stations in Ghana and Tanzania, FRI will include Freedom Fone in the suite of ICTs offered to partner radio stations in Africa in 2012. Participants at the workshop are expected to return to their countries and deploy the platform in 17 radio stations in 10 countries over June/July 2012.