Located in the Northern Uganda district of Gulu, Battery Operated Systems for Community Outreach (BOSCO) Uganda is a Non-for-Profit Organization (NPO) under the trusteeship of the Catholic Archdiocese of Gulu registered under the number B9410051328-N on March 9th 2007. It was founded as an emergency response to the 1986-2008 government of Uganda and rebel of the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict that stifled development in the northern parts of Uganda.
BOSCO Uganda started its activities bringing Internet and Voice over Protocol (VoIP) telephony with the help of solar powered PCs to rural hard-to-reach areas of Northern Uganda. Since then, BOSCO Uganda is a leading NPO in the area of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and the only Community Network in Uganda. BOSCO Uganda’s other areas of expertise that will be elaborated more at the tail end are Renewable Energy, Entrepreneurship and Mentorship as well as Education through ICT.
The rich success of our past projects has led BOSCO to currently supporting 32 community ICT & Development Centres with about 56.000 beneficiaries in all the eight district of Acholi sub-region. In addition, BOSCO is currently expanding to the West Nile region where 19 small scale ICT&D Centres are established. ICT&D Centres that BOSCO has developed and established consist of solar powered PCs, with low power usage, that are connected to high speed and long-range Wi-Fi Internet connection. Each of BOSCO’s communication station is linked to other BOSCO centres via a free VoIP telephony network and through a high-speed Internet network (Intranet) content management page.
BOSCO Uganda as an ISOC Uganda chapter member visualizeses a digitally inclusive and globalized society whose mission is to build peace through development. As the only Community network in Uganda, BOSCO Uganda uses high speed, long-range Wi-Fi frequency of 2.4GHz and 5.8 GHz unlicensed spectrum to connect the unconnected communities within rural areas via internet using modern technology to enable them interact with each other and with people across international border in a way that will help improve their well-being and development through lasting relationship.
BOSCO Uganda connects youth Centers, Sub county, division headquarters, churches, Mosque, NGOs, schools and businesses at no cost but for sustainability sometimes asked for contribution from connected communities (http://boscouganda.com/bosco-ugandas-point-of-presence-in-acholi-lango-sub-region). BOSCO Uganda has been providing internet access to the rural remote communities since 2008 starting from a 512kbps connecting 5 Displacement camps to currently 12.5 Mbps shared bandwidth connecting over 20 ICT centres and the expansion is still ongoing through point to point wireless devices sitting on relay towers that are costly to rent. This poses a great sustainability challenge to BOSCO Uganda that mainly depends on external donor funding and yet its contribution in connecting the unconnected community remain an ultimate need and above all human right concern of the rural people.
Moreover, BOSCO Uganda being an ISOC Uganda chapter member is working hard to see universal affordable access to internet is achieved, this is being done through advocacy of internet access for all. The organization has installed already up to 47 ICT centres with solar power computer system in the northern part of Uganda but only 20 out of the 47 ICT&D Centers are currently connected through a shared band width. Great efforts are towards expanding internet access to all.
BOSCO soon evolved into an Organization that embraced a web-based approach to knowledge sharing about emerging ecological challenges, entrepreneurial and marketing opportunities of northern Uganda’s majorly women and youth society. BOSCO-Uganda's mandate is realized through focus on key areas that include:
Capacity development in ICT & Entrepreneurship
BOSCO Uganda provides ICT education for both youth in and out of school as the primary target beneficiaries of its project. BOSCO-Uganda divulges Web2.0 and Office application standards of skills development which are relevant skills required of competent candidates for ICT job related employment. Web2.0 includes all different forms of web or online collaborations while the Office applications it includes all the Microsoft packages required for office use. We supply class-mate laptop computers to the ICT Centers and learners navigate their way through it by themselves. In addition to ICT education, BOSCO Uganda develops local skills of its beneficiaries in Entrepreneurship that is done through an Entrepreneurship Essential (EE) model developed by Accenture a US based partner. The community entrepreneurship education includes hands on skills to make liquid soap, candle, contingency, body cream making and business plan competitions that promotes lasting community social cohesion. There are six Entrepreneurship Essential models all computer-based programs from where the communities learn. Other capacity development is in areas of leadership and management skills and clean renewable energy.
Leadership and management
In order to ensure the success and longevity of its programs BOSCO-Uganda, equips community members with the necessary skills and knowledge to solve community challenges and build leadership. This is done prior to the establishment of ICT Centers and community members are tasked to nominate their leaders who are vetted to ensure that they’ve been elected on merit. In addition to this, BOSCO-Uganda helps sets standards to evaluate the performance of leaders who are periodically appraised by the community members using the set standard performance tool.
Clean & Renewable Energy (Solar Power)
In a bid to best serve the rural population of northern Uganda who are situated in predominantly off-grid locations and can’t afford the expensive cost of electricity or where they can its unreliability, BOSCO Uganda runs on clean renewable solar power that promotes environmental protection and sustainability. In clear testament of this mandate, BOSCO Uganda has installed 5KWs solar power to 3 locations and 30 KWs for 2 schools in Northern Uganda and these solar power locations have demonstrated better sustainability reducing on the operation costs for these institutions, being reliable and offering employment for many people.
Research in Development.
BOSCO Uganda is currently growing in the field of research and in 2018 while in conjunction with Accenture conducted it’s a country-wide research in 11 districts across the 5 regions of the country gathering opinions on the usage of Mosquito nets. Prior to this, in 2017 Bosco-Uganda also did a Baseline Survey covering 5,000 businesses and 120 households and another one on alternative energy uses for businesses (2013), City alliance and municipalities under United Nations Office for Project Services (2016)