Project Statement

Free public WiFi hot spot in Dili, Timor Leste (Oct 2012)

“The challenge is how do we run ICT programs within communities with no money and often no access to electricity?” – Jhony Nunes, Plan-TL

Telecommunications infrastructure is widely available in Dili, Timor Leste’s capital, with good mobile phone coverage and even a free public WiFi hotspot. Access to infrastructure in the rural areas however is not as widespread. Within Codo there is good mobile phone coverage and most people use mobile phones but there are currently no computers or access to internet within the community, including the school. Some reasons for the lack of computer technology are the cost, internet and computers are expensive, and that electricity has only returned to Codo within the last year. As such up until recently there was nothing to power computers. There are many communities throughout Lautem however that do not have access to electricity.

The lack of access to computers and the internet in Codo and other communities in rural Lautem has resulted in poor computer literacy throughout the region. Educational programs are required to teach the youth and teachers within the schools how to use computers. There is also no capacity within the community to fix any electronics if they break. In other rural areas across Timor Leste, youth centres have been created to provide training and also WiFi hotspots for the communities use. 

Plan-TL is interested in developing electronic data collection systems, such as PoiMapper, that can be used in the field in particular for the WASH program where geographic location of the data is very important. The idea is that photos could be taken, for example of a tap stand in a community, and data collected about that location or point, for example if the tap stand is working or needs repairs, and the type of repairs needed. The limitations with this project are lack of access to mobile internet in the field and the high cost of smartphones. The challenge is to come up with an affordable low cost electronic data collection tool.  

Design Projects

The following ICT design projects were identified by Plan-TL and other locally based community organisations:

  • Training to build the capacity or a training centre for youth to gain skills to fix electronics
  • Computer training package for youth and teachers in schools to use computers
  • Computer centre that is cheap and can run without connection to mains electricity
  • GPS mapping system for data collection (point of interest mapping)


Design Considerations

When designing a solution, the following issues have been identified and should be considered a priority. The proposal should consider:

  • How cultural differences might affect the reception of your material.
  • Computer literacy is low in rural Lautem and so the incorporation of training will be integral to the success of any ICT project in the district. 
  • The availability of different types of hardware, i.e. how many people have access to computers, smartphones, etc.
  • Cost should be kept to a minimum to ensure that it is affordable for the communities in rural Lautem
  • Electricity has only been returned to Codo within the last year. There are still large regions within the Lautem district however that currently do not have electricity. Alternative power supplies or portable power supplies may also be considered as part of the design. 





Additional Information

Timor Telecom is the main provider of mobile services and the community has good coverage thanks to a new nearby telecommunications tower.