Community Network Beginner

Hello everybody my name is Isaac and I am from Ghana,West Africa and I have been following this community for some time now. My organization has realized the need for a community network infrastructure here in Ghana and I am looking for insight on how to get started. I gladly welcome any suggestions and/or submissions for a beginner such as myself.

Hello @Atia Issac, welcome to the community space!! It is a pleasure to meet you.

There are some resources to get you started. For example, there is one thread you might want to take a look at : Setting up wifi in rural area South Africa

There is also a link within that thread around how to set up a CN: https://internetfreedomfestival.org/wiki/index.php/Community_Updates#July_11 .

This is just a starting place, but perhaps you have some specific questions around starting a CN? Please do pose the question here.
Cheers! kathleen

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Hi @Atia. Welcome! Can you say a little bit more about the location and scope of community network that you envisage?

Hi Isaac, I will help you and you can pay me in cacao, call me any time :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Thank you for the link it was much helpful.
My question is for a starter who is yet beginning to probe the community network space, what is the first thing to consider?

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So sorry @dagelf I was on a work trip and had very limited internet service. I just got back home yesterday. If possible I would love if we could reschedule this video call. My team and I will be grateful.

P.S
That was a joke :rofl:

You know, talking about jokes - I never knew or believed that I can build a network or a company, and when I had the idea the first time (which was given to me by somebody else) - I made a joke about that I can start a network, and I really did not believe that I will be able to do it. (In my whole family nobody ever started a company, or understood much about how to work with money, except for my one uncle who we did not see much.)

:sweat_smile: So I get your joke. But I don’t think you realize how much I :heart: chocolate.

Don’t joke too much, some people need the structure provided by formalities, I don’t think we should ever poke too much fun at that… I think that if you can live without it then you are the lucky one.

Also, you help remind me that it is risky to make jokes on the internet, because it is missing a lot of social cues that we have when we talk, so it is difficult to see if people are understanding it in a way that can help them learn to be better… that is why I try to do as many video calls as possible because it is the easiest way to “be there” without being there. Jokes highlight how much we don’t know about each other’s situation.

On a side note, I am quite annoyed that all the chocolate that I can buy in the shop says “Switzerland” instead of “Ghana”, when a lot of it comes from Ghana… But I think that can change.

We won’t learn if we don’t explain our world view or culture to each other, and that is necessary if we want there to be peace.

But this joke that I made about starting a network, placed the idea in my head, and because of it, I started to think about it, and because I was thinking about it, I started to do things that lead me to build something that I never dreamed that could be possible.

I know it is easy to think that other people have what they have because they had access to privileges, and it could be true, but I think it is also worth to note that my dad was a pastor, and my mother could study even while we were growing up, to become a psychologist, only because she was saving up enough money, and because my father could care for us during the week so that she could go away to study, and that they had access to an education system and a government who created an opportunity for them to study, and that I grew up in a lower middle class family, and that when I started my network, I had saved up less than $500 to start with - and there were no grants or business support or entrepeneurship school to help me get started, and I had nobody to guide or help me - I had no choice but to use the $500 that I had - and to do everything by myself to grow it. The only thing I had was that I could read, and that I could use a computer, because of my parents.

The other reason that I started a network - even though everybody said that I must try to go overseas to England or America to go and find work there - was because I grew up with a government who did not support me just because of my skin colour, and that everybody was saying that if I can’t go overseas, then the only choice is for me to start a company. And I love my country, so it was a decision I made to not run away, but to work to make something good where I am, even though it was difficult and even though I had no support.

I read about how the internet works - I can’t remember where. Then I started talking to people for 3 months, to find people who will pay $300 for equipment that was needed at the time, but nobody could afford it. During this time I did a job waitering at a restaurant to support myself.

Then I tried something new. I started to pay $100/month rent to stay in a place where there were people who I thought might want internet. My room was just big enough for a bed, nothing else, in a small flat, sharing with 2 other people who were students, and the one student was a friend of my brother. I made up a company name, well, actually, the friend of my brother made fun of me by suggesting the name “Wish”. He made the joke and said that it is a good name, because I will never be able to do it. But I still bought the antenna that I needed, and then I tested it, and it worked, and I went from door to door in the neighourhood and told everybody that I am from a company called “Wish” and that I can sell them internet for $30/month. After 3 days of doing this, and talking to 50 people, 10 of those people said yes. So I had the confidence that if I spent $200 on equipment, and I paid the line rental of $200 for the first month, and I connected everybody, that I would be collecting enough money to pay for the line. That is how I started the first time… and that was in 2004.

There was no course you could study, and nobody that I could fine who could teach me how to build this - the only thing that I had then was the fact that somone showed me a Wi-Fi antenna, and where to buy it - and I knew enough about how to plug it in, and how to read the manuals so I could learn how it works.

Today it is much easier to do it. If you have an idea of how you can do it, just share your idea and ask people if they think it will work - and you might get valuable feedback.

Or if you tell someone who already did it, about where you are staying and what it is like, then they might give you some good ideas that you can try.

Good luck! You can do it!