DOT-COM Activity: Rwanda - ICTs for Elections and Community Access
Short Description: The dot-ORG ICTs for Elections and Community Access Project has two main activities: support to the National Electoral Commission on upgrading its voter registration database and the creation of three community internet centers.
Phase/Type of Activity: Signed Award Status: Completed
Start date: July 02, 2002 End Date: July 02, 2005
Partners: IESC/Geekcorps , SatelLife , Winrock International
Person(s) to contact
Michael Tetelman , Acting Director, dot-ORG
Academy for Educational Development
Tel: (202) 228-8856
Full Description: The dot-ORG ICTs for Elections and Community Access Project has two main activities.
- The first activity focuses on helping the National Electoral Commission of Rwanda to enhance their use of ICT to manage the country's voter list. dot-ORG is providing technical assistance, hardware, software, and staff training to support database development and management, assist the Commission to print high-quality voter registration cards, and improve communications between headquarters and the twelve provincial offices. The project will also work with a private sector sponsor to pilot test the use of hand-held computers (PDAs) to improve the collection, validation and updating of voter data in remote areas.
- The second project activity focuses on creating, in partnership with local entrepreneurs, Community Internet Centers (CICs) in two to four Rwandan communities, one of which may lack both connectivity and electricity. The centers provide local residents with access to a variety of affordable ICT resources. The CICs will also work with local Rwandan development organizations, NGOs, government agencies, and businesses to convert existing information and training materials into various digital formats. Two CICs have been established outside Kigali, in partnership with private sector companies.
- On January 1st, 2004, the CIC association was formally launched. This association includes both the dot-ORG centers and other public access organizations in Rwanda. The association has already created a website and marketing strategy.
- Backup Power Systems
USAID has given the activity a modification to allow dot-ORG Resource Partner, Winrock, to perform a power feasibility study for backup power supplies. Power has been an ongoing problem with the two CICs, seriously impacting their revenue stream. Power is also a major issue when developing the plans for an off-grid CIC.
- Third CIC
The program has established a third CIC, this one off the telecommunications and electricity grids. This CIC is being evaluated closely to see if it can be used as a model for other off-grid telecenters and public access points.
- PDA Pilot
In September 2004, dot-ORG worked with Resource Partner, Satelife, on a PDA based pilot project, using Palm Pilots to collect and verify voter registration data in two districts in Rwanda. Staff from the National Electoral Commission have piloted PDAs which have the entire voter registration data for that district housed on them once information is changed or updated, it is be verified and sent back to the central server for speedy updating to the voter registration database
Update 2: (October-December 2004)
The project was granted an extension to April 2, 2005. During this period, the PDA pilot activity will be expanded to cover all 106 districts of the country.
Update 3: (January-March 2005)
The project team in Kigali has gathered data pertaining to the sustainability and impact of the CICs. The data will be provided in the final report of the project. dot-ORG/Rwanda created an association of telecenter entrepreneurs to share best practices and to serve as an advocacy body for public access centers. The project was extended for three months and will close at the beginning of July 2005.
Update 4 / Snapshot of Results & Lessons: (April-July 2005)
The project closed in July 2005.
- Initial evidence suggests that the CICs are on their way to long-term self-sustainability, that they have made a positive difference in the communities they serve, and that they have support the Government of Rwanda's goal to extend high-quality ICTs out to rural areas.
- It is critical to design energy efficient systems right from the beginning, to think about viable alternative energy sources and to install energy efficient computer equipment.
- Most if not all of hte CICs are operating in a sustainable manner and providing valuable services based on a business model. While all the CIC operators had been selected based on a competitive bidding process and all had some experience with ICTs and with running a business, providing additional capacity building in business management was a critical component of the project.
- The production of personalized voter cards played an important role in helping the NEC manage its elections more effectively.
- The NEC was enthusiastic about the results of the PDA trial.
Read the full final report and/or the final report for the Elections Support activity for additional information.
Development Sector(s): Elections, Enterprise Development, Information Technology, Microenterprise Development, Women in Development
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