Q: In summary, what do you do with BOSCO Uganda?.
A: This programme I am participating in with the technical team of BOSCO Uganda, is for me to work along side and learn from the team, so we can launch BOSCO South Sudan. I learn through practical work that i do together with the team and am gaining skills. This period has been so busy and I have learnt a lot and more to share with you and the good-will ambassadors of BOSCO. I must thank the management of BOSCO Uganda for all the learning and practical opportunities rendered to me. Your efforts are so much helpful. I look forward to more active learning and practical participation in many activities to come. All activities done and mentioned below, have always been lessons to me. Thanks to Radio South Sudan for supporting this programme and the technical team for sharing such great knowledge and skills.
Q: What are the key under takings you have been doing with BOSCO Uganda’s technical department?.
I have been involved in a number of activities to include but not limited to:
- Field site assessment visits to 2 sites located in two districts of Northern Uganda (Aber ICT Youth centre where a community radio is also located, and Ngai Youth centre). We assessed the functionality of the centres, the solar grid and computers.
- I participated in a network repair at one of the residences of the Archdiocese of Gulu. We reconnected a broken link to the residence including some maintenance work on the network switches and computers.
- I was Involved in upgrading solar power at radio Pacis tower in Lacor. This included lifting and mounting the panel rack and wiring the batteries. This site had power outage problems. Since that upgrade, it is in efficient condition without a blackout.
- We fixed a network breakage at Kalongo Mountain. Kalongo is a main access point for many sites in Agago District and other parts in the north-eastern Uganda which includes Paimol, Kokil, Lukole, Patong… We replaced Nano-stations and other radios that communicate with other sites.
- Together with the technical team, we did Installation of network/internet at a new site in Kokil. We connected a youth centre that already had computers but were not yet on the internet.
- I participated in Network and solar power upgrade at Pader and Kitgum districts. At this site, we connected two new sites supported by Fire-Africa, Pader Town Parish youth centre and the radio station. During this connection, I learnt the process of wiring, maintaining and using DC systems and equipment. Most of these equipment at the towers run on DC which means, low power consumption and reduced costs on inverters.
- I was part of a six weeks practical online course “Building Wireless Community Networks (BWCN) – Africa organised and conducted by Internet Society (ISOC). We received Certificate of participation. Our group of 5 from BOSCO Uganda was the only group in Uganda that participated in this first ever course.
I Participated in the installation of UNICEF ICT Youth Digital Kiosks in the refugee camps in Adjumani District.
- At the Gulu Business plan competition, I participated with BOSCO Uganda team to connect and do a live stream video to YouTube. It was said to be the first of its kind. I acquired a lot of skills here especially in doing a live streaming and the requirements.
- Attended and participated in the KOLIBRI training by UNICEF. Learning the system, the hardware components and how to interact with the system and instruct users of the programme. I learnt the monitoring and evaluation part of it and how to interpret the data that is generated by the users.
- Also learnt more on solar during installations of the Digital Kiosks in Adjumani refugee camps.
Q. What are some of the lessons you have learnt from this mentor-ship opportunity while at BOSCO Uganda?
A. I am very grateful to share with you that, I learnt;
- An understanding of how community networks operate and more on licensing with insights from the online training I attended.
- I gained more skills and understanding on radio physics and the electromagnetic spectrum and how radio waves propagate through different medium. Given a specific altitude, topology of the sites, Wi-Fi radio type and capacity, and distance; the performance of a network depends these factors.
- From installation of digital kiosks in the refugee camps, I was able to learn more on the solar installations for both AC and DC systems. I established the differences between 24v and 12v systems given the solar panels and the batteries and its connections.
- I Learnt the different types of tools and equipment that are required for digital kiosks installations, Wi-Fi connections, and solar installations. This improves efficiency and swiftness in carrying out such operations.
- The importance of having a first aid kit, safety gear for climbing is very important. At one moment, an incident happened to our team and we had to drive long distance up to Adjumani town to get first Aid at a clinic. If we were to have it on the site, it would have helped in such an emergency.
- Site survey and line of sight (LOS) including forms of Wi-Fi configurations like suing VLANs, router modes, bridge modes, and frequencies that can affect transmission of signals.Learnt the fundamentals of network troubleshooting, creating links and fixing network breakages.
- Replacement of network radios, routers, switches and basic configuration of UBNT network equipment.
- An understanding of the types of radios used within a given radius including setting and assigning frequencies based on the devices and location.
- Doing site survey and meeting with the site management team. We did this at radio Piwa which owns a radio tower at Kalongo in Agago district. We met with the radio manager and discuss mutual terms on use of the tower. This is a good experience on such partnership.
- A clear understanding of imaging systems to be transferred to other computers. Basically this enable quick installations and it improved my skills.
- I acquired basic skills in solar connection including wiring solar panels, batteries and solar systems for specific voltages (12, 24, 48…) Connecting new sites to the internet. We did this at Kokil (Gwok Ma inongo) Youth centre and Caritas Pader.Making an improvised but yet effective passive POE (Power-Over-Ethernet) that can survive under harsh conditions and making effective use of available resources. This is an innovative nature of the work at BOSCO.
- Types of cables used under different conditions, cable crimping, layout, and measurement/estimate of cable for towers.Clear understanding of line-of-site for long distances and use of simulations apps that can support in getting the correct GPS coordinates and directions for specific sites and ICT centres.
Q. What measures would you like to suggest for effective working environments in your undertakings with BOSCO Uganda?.
I would like to suggest that;
- Tower safety measures and safety gears for our team is more than urgent. We have tried to acquire the quotation and still looking forward to the training perhaps.
- To finalize working on the BOSCO South Sudan presentation to the Communications Authority in Juba.
- To check with the two countries on the regulation of Wi-Fi community networks.
- To do more installations of Digital Kiosks.
- Work on the concept paper on integration of One Tribe programme into BOSCO intranets and community activities to reach out to the refugee camps including training on the programme.
- Transporting solar panels and network equipment is a challenge. Loading solar racks and other equipment would require a double cabin pickup to contain the team and equipment.
Q. What would be your last word on this?
I appreciate the strong spirit of team work at BOSCO Uganda and I do understand the importance of committed relationships between organisations and working together for a common good of the community. This is with a good intent to empower, develop, and build capacities of the communities to be more productive and self-reliant while ensuring self-sustainability. I therefore commend this partnership to continue and look forward for a stable South Sudan so that we can implement this programme. My suggestions is that, we can start by carrying out surveys about towers, partnerships with those who own towers and establish our working plan. This will help us come out with a presentation to the Communications Authorities and a gradual start in South Sudan.
About Fred Maziina.
Fred Maziina is from Kajo-Keji South Sudan where he worked for Diocese of Kajo-Keji and Radio South Sudan. Due to the fighting in South Sudan, Fred had to flee for his life, with wife Irene, cousin Sarah and three boys Joel, Jovan and Jotham.
Fred has background in systems administration and holds a Bachelors in Information technology (Hons). Has also done particular training in; Wireless Community networks, FM Radio installation, basic maintenance of FM radio transmitters, and Organisational leadership, coupled with a serving experience of over 9 years in various roles closely related to ICT. Above all, Fred loves the Lord and I believe through him, all things are possible.