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Third Summit on Community Networks in Africa

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Day One: Technical Training

Image credit: Nyani Quarmyne/Internet Society

Launching into the Community Networks Summit, day one  aimed at providing attendees with a clear understanding of the technical elements which are required in order to access the Internet/broadband on their own.

An opening prayer and welcome greeting by the Zenzeleni Cooperative based in the community of Mankosi, Eastern Cape, South Africa and a hearty welcome by the owners of Wild Lubanzi Trail Lodge started off the first day of the Summit. The first half of the morning was spent laying the foundation for understanding all the moving parts in operating a community network. This session provided explanations on the hardware involved in setting up an Internet connection and the safety regulations that one needs to observe. Community members then explored various hardware tools used to establish an Internet connection by operating it themselves.

In transitioning into the software that makes up the network we call the Internet, the community unpacked the concept of IP Addresses such as the Mac address and how it operates.

What is the Internet? The people are the Internet!  As long as we have a device that connects to the network we become a part of the network. Similarly when no one has access there is no Internet. In this session the technical aspects and the practical applications were interrogated,  specifically how it all fits into the greater scheme of what we call the Internet. This was done through the use of practical examples such as existing Internet platforms (Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube).

In learning how routers and servers work, attendees discussed where the information they upload on social media platform go to. Community members were given visual images of what data centers look like and where they are physically situated in the world including South Africa. Michuki then took the group back to how information flows from a device to the server and how the server operates to help the user and others access the content one has created.

Ending of the day with an interactive discussion, Michuki Mwangi,  Coenraad Loubser and Nico Pace introduced the concept of hosting to the community, and exposed the community of Mankosi, Zithulelele and other attendees to the fact that the infrastructure is available to them to access this tool and create their own domain.

In discussing what services are available on the network and where they are hosted, a call to action was made to imagine the possibility of setting up local platforms similar to WhatsApp that do not require or depend connecting to major ISP´s.  In turn interrogating the functions and benefits of having these services on the community network to create value on the network because WE ARE THE INTERNET.

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Time

Sunday 02 September 2018 –

Friday 07 September 2018

Location

Wild Lubanzi Trail Lodge

Eastern Cape, South Africa

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