Q & A with the Winners: Jabera Matogoro

In this Q&A, Jabhera Matogoro talks about his team’s solution — TV White Space & Community Networks Cooperative Societies: Feasible Alternatives to Connect the Unconnected Rural Population — which won the 2nd Place, Community Enablement Proof of Concept prize in the 2021 Connecting the Unconnected Challenge.

1.Please summarize your winning solution

Image courtesy of Jabera Matogoro

The current digital divide is partly because mobile network operators and commercial internet service providers do not see value in investing in rural areas where return of investments takes longer to be realized. To connect the unconnected population, different solutions ranging from wired to wireless technologies have been investigated using either top-down or bottom-up approaches.

Our solution used community-owned bottom-up approach and low-cost television white space (TVWS) technology to connect the unconnected population and schools in rural Tanzania. Results from the pilot by the University of Dodoma confirmed that TVWS infrastructure is better suited to bypass physical obstacles such as heavy foliage, hills and other topographical challenges presented by rural areas and are cheaper in terms of initial investment as it avoids most of the expensive wired infrastructure or spectrum fees required by fiber and mobile networks solutions respectively. The use of geo-location spectrum database in a dynamic-fashion contributes to the efficient spectrum utilization to serve more populations.

Our economic business model combines eight parameters such as public-private-partnership+people (4P), openHardware+Software (OpenHS), income generating activities, capacity building and relevant local content which is missing from the existing telecommunication system design. The community networks cooperative society approach is a self-sustainable model where members of the community network buy shares and pay entry fees as detailed in the by-laws. Members of the community networks are encouraged to use the service at a cost which helps to generate income for future sustainability. 

2.What is the most unique/innovative aspect about your approach?

Image courtesy of Jabera Matogoro

Kondoa Community Network was the first community network to pilot the use of community-owned TV White Space Technology to connect the unconnected population in rural Tanzania. Our solution piloted major business operations to sustain the community-owned Internet Service Provider.

3.What did you enjoy most about the CTU Competition and Summit Program?

Mentorship and engagement to IEEE communities participating to the CTU challenge. Also, our solution gained large publicity.

4.What new work have you done since the 2021 CTU Summit? Did you invest your winnings into the project?

We have expanded our operations to connect more schools and community in Kasulu, Nyasa and Tarime which also indicate the demand for our solution. Part of the prize money was invested to capacity building and marketing.

5.What is your estimate of the number of people impacted by your program?

Image courtesy of Jabera Matogoro

Our pilot in Kondoa community network cooperative society has achieved the following:

  • Offered Internet access to 2207 students and 113 teachers in four education institutions; trained 630 people (200 women and 430 men); 
  • Achieved a downloading speed of more than 4 Mbps and 4.8 Mbps uploading Internet speed; 
  • Contributed to the improved quality of education (SDG4); addressed the women empowerment (SDG5); 
  • Contributed to developed innovative infrastructure that addresses digital divide (SDG9) and also brought together civil society and academia to address societal challenge (SDG17). 
  • The project has facilitated the establishment of a local summit on community networks and community radio in Tanzania. The first local summit on community network and community radio brought together 45 participants from Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Argentina in the year 2018. 
    • The 4th summit on community networks in Africa was held together with the 2nd local summit on community network and community radio, co-hosted by the University of Dodoma and Kondoa Community Network in Tanzania. The summit brought together 134 participants from 19 countries (Argentina, Cameroon, Canada, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, Uganda, UK, USA, Zimbabwe, France, and German). The project has influenced the participation of the local government in addressing the digital divide through the bottom-up approach based on community network model.
    • Inaugurated Tanzania Community Networks School of Internet Governance. In its First Edition (2020) – 44 participants attended the event and more than 50 participants have indicated interest to attend the second edition in 2021.

    6.Anything else you would like to share?

    CTU Challenge provided us the opportunity to engage more stakeholder in Tanzania and beyond. It has also brought new partnership towards scaling the solution for large commercialization.