We've written a few times about Inveneo, the San Francisco-based nonprofit working to bring Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to developing areas. A year ago, they released an ultra-low-power PC and communications system equipped with computing capabilities, internet access, VoIP, and regional WiFi broadband. They've worked further to integrate solar power into the infrastructure for running these systems, which often get deployed in regions without an electrical grid.
Inveneo just announced a new plan to scale up its certification program for training local professionals in the areas it serves, permitting improved distribution and support on the ground. The Inveneo Certified ICT Partner (ICIP) plan aims to reduce the costs of installation and support by at least 60%, while increasing service speed and quality, and opening opportunities for locals to establish revenue streams for themselves by developing tech support services using their training.
Key ICIP program elements include:
* Recruiting and screening of local, highly talented ICT professionals, who are typically small-business entrepreneurs with 2 - 20 employees.
* Providing qualified entrepreneurs with a two - three week intensive, advanced training and certification process. The classroom and hands-on training courses focus on deploying rural solutions and cover IT networking, long-distance wireless (WiFi) networking, Linux/Open Source desktop management, VoIP telephony and power design.
* Offering access to ongoing technical and business support resources for proposal development and technical-issue resolution, along with ongoing training and information on rural ICTs to certified entrepreneurs who become ICIPs
* Enabling ICIPs to generate and retain 100 percent of fees for services they provide to Inveneo clients, and to receive discounts on equipment purchased from Inveneo for resale.
Their new pilot locations for ICIP will be in Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania, with continued work in existing locations in Uganda and Guinea Bissau. The work has been taken on in partnership with local Ugandan company, Linux Solutions, and with the support of AMD, whose new 50x15 initiative has parallel goals in terms of facilitating access to affordable internet connections and computer equipment -- in this case, for 50% of the world's population by 2015. 50x15 has also been instrumental in Architecture for Humanity's new Open Architecture Network, partnering with them to establish a $250,000 architecture grant.
As they get ICIP underway, Inveneo's on the lookout for more partners in Africa to expand their service area, and support from donors and foundations as they grow. A downloadable white paper provides more information on their strategy and plans.