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NetHope alliance launches advanced VSAT installation/maintenance training

The objectives of Connect Africa took a major step forward when the NetHope aid alliance joined the Global VSAT Forum, the African eDevelopment Resource Centre (AeRC) and iDirect in launching an advanced VSAT installation and maintenance training programme in Nairobi this week.

NetHope, a US-based global IT alliance of 25 of the world's largest aid agencies, has joined the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), the African eDevelopment Resource Centre (AeRC), and iDirect in launching an advanced VSAT installation and maintenance training programme this week in Nairobi. The training was delivered through a new regional capacity-building facility that was established to enable the African communications community to more fully realise the objectives of Connect Africa, an ITU initiative that aims to greatly expand connectivity throughout the continent.

Attending the first workshop were staff from five NetHope aid organisations representing five countries including Kenya, Sudan, Benin, Eritrea and Tanzania. The course is part of three levels of increasing complexity and culminates in Level 3 GVF VSAT hands on training, skills testing and certification.
In many places in the developing world and especially Africa, VSAT is the only practical solution but the technical expertise to set up and maintain systems is hard to find and expensive to contract. Training the local NGO workforce will enable faster less costly installations and increase "up time" once sites are operational.

"Delivering local training is one of the pillars of NetHope's operations," said Bill Brindley, NetHope Director and CEO. "We plan to build upon our collaboration with GVF, AeRC and iDirect to train 150 local workers over the next 18 months in Nairobi. The GVF training will also be offered through training centres in West and South Africa in early to mid 2009."

The Nairobi pilot programme will become a standardised component of NetHope's ICT Skills Building programme and will be offered to all member organisations, starting January 2009.

In support of the NetHope programme - and as part of its commitment to Connect Africa - GVF matched each paid registration with delivery of an additional complimentary seat in the training course. "The satellite industry is proud to serve as a partner of NetHope and of the ITU Connect Africa initiative," said David Hartshorn, Secretary-General of GVF.

Likewise, iDirect donated three complete VSAT systems and installation tool kits to NetHope to enable sustainable training. David Wren, Director of Field Services said, "having the right knowledge without the right tools is a weak link in the chain. We want to ensure that NetHope technical staff have the means, knowledge and experience to do a proper field installation the first time".

NetHope aid organisations plan to install hundreds of new VSAT sites in the next 18 months. VSAT solutions are also especially critical to deploying relief in the wake of disasters. Donations for tuition and VSAT tools kits are needed to scale local workforce development.

NetHope is a new generation ICT consortium of 25 of the international community's leading NGOs. It is dedicated to the best use of available technology resources by its member agencies in order to improve their ability to deliver community benefit in the developing world. It does this by working as a highly collaborative team, sharing ICT knowledge, solving common problems, creating industry relationships to support the public benefit work of all of its members, and educating members as well as the wider community of NGOs. It is also a not-for-profit incorporated in the USA and headquartered in McLean, Virginia.

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