Youth organise a Community Fair in partnership with BOSCO-Uganda

Children and other participants awaiting the event
Children and other participants awaiting the event


The Community Fair funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation and DKA-Austria through HORIZONT3000 and organized by the youth of Alero ICT Youth Centre in Nwoya District-Northern Uganda in partnership with Battery Operated Systems for Community Outreach-Uganda (BOSCO-Uganda) attracted 300-500 community members from within Alero Sub County of Nwoya District; and over 80 participating young people/community members representing 16 ICT sites from outside Nwoya District.

Forum Discussion
Forum Discussion

The program highlights of the day started with the Republic of Uganda National Anthem followed by; Charity work at Alero Health Centre III; welcome remarks from the area Local Council One Chair Person & welcome song from the children of Alero Primary School; followed by Role plays & Pictorial Presentation by community members on three controversial issues (Land conflicts, Alcoholism & drug abuse, bad leadership & governance) identified by the community of Alero – accompanied by forum discussions; personal testimonies & power point presentation by community members on the benefits of ICT; Acoli cultural performances (dance & music); Exhibition and official closing remarks by the Resident District Commissioner (RDC)of Nwoya District (representing the President’s office).

An award worth 2, 480, 000 /= (Two Million, Four Hundred & Eighty Thousand Uganda Shillings Only) was presented through the RDC to the community to Alero ICT Youth Centre. 200, 000/= (Two Hundred Thousand Uganda Shillings only) was in-kind inform Games and Sports items which are 2 footballs, 1 netball, Ball pump & 2 pins, 3 whistles, Snakes & Ladders (with Ludo) and Scrabble. The 2, 280, 000/= (Two Million, Two Hundred and Eighty Thousand Uganda Shillings Only) cash award was start-up capital towards the Revolving Fund/Village Savings & Loan Scheme aimed at contributing to the sustainability of Alero ICT Youth Centre and improvement of livelihoods of the community of Alero.

Prior to the day of the community fair, two radio talk shows (hosting the youth/community of Alero) on controversial issues were held on Mega Radio Fm on Wednesday, 18th March 2014 (English Version) and Thursday, 19th March 2014 (Luo Version). In addition to the Luo Radio Announcement (to publicise the community fair) held in the morning of Friday, 21st March 2014; the radio talk shows also served the same purpose. The Local Media houses (Mega Radio FM and Rupiny) also covered and reported the issues at the community fair.

The 16 ICT Sites joining Alero ICT Youth Centre on Friday, 21st March 2014 at the 10:00am to 6:30pm event were: – Acoli Muslim District (Layibi Division-Gulu Municipality), Tam Pi Diki Child & Youth Support Organisation (Bungatira Sub County-Gulu District), Coope Information Centre (Bungatira Sub County-Gulu District), Bardege ICT for Education & Research Centre (Bardege Division-Gulu Municipality), Lacor St. Mary’s College (Lamogi sub county in Amuru District), Latanya Youth & Widows Services Uganda (Latanya sub county-Pader District), Peace Together Uganda (Pajule-Pader District), Lira Palwo ICT Centre (Lira Palwo sub county-Agago District), Gwokke Keni PHA & OVC Network (Patongo Sub county-Agago District), Gwok Ma Inongo (Paimol Network of Farmers in Paimol Sub County of Agago District), King James Comprehensive School (Lira District), Super Star Football & Netball Club (Lukole in Agago Town Council), Aber Youth Centre (Aber Sub County in Oyam District), Pabo ICT Centre (Pabo sub county in Amuru district), Lacor Primary School (Lamogi sub county in Amuru District), Ngai Youth Centre (Ngai sub county in Oyam district).

Cultural Performance (Music & Dance)
Cultural Performance (Music & Dance)

Inaddtition to representatives from HORIZONT3000, BOSCO-Uganda Board of Directors & Secretariat in Uganda; also present from within Alero sub county and Nwoya District were representatives from Local government, Uganda Police, different Community Based Organisations/groups, Primary & Secondary Schools, Health Sector and clubs.

Three other similar events will be carried out in the districts of Agago, Lamwo and Pader organised by the young people and communities of Lira Palwo ICT Centre, Paddie-Archdeaconry ICT Centre and Peace Together Uganda respectively.

Alero ICT Youth Centre was established by BOSCO-Uganda in 2011 with funding from UNICEF; and upgraded in 2013 under the programme Intervention “Peace Building and Socio-economic Development using Information & Communication Technology (ICT) in the Acholi sub-region, Northern Uganda“ with funding from the Austrian Development Cooperation and DKA-Austria through HORIZONT3000.

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Radio Talk Show hosting community of Alero

“Power Africa” initiative could help continent surge forward

By Sarah Lovejoy

I heard a familiar voice coming from the radio in a small roadside shop where I’d stopped to buy some airtime. It was US President Barack Obama. More exciting than hearing his voice, however, was the knowledge that we were standing on the same continent. I paused to listen, and the shop-owner smiled as he saw me recognize the voice. “He is next door,” he said, reminding me that Obama was on the Tanzania leg of his week-long Africa visit. Marking the first visit of his second term, and his first significant travel in Africa as US President, the trip was long-anticipated. We listened together for a few moments, and I reflected on how unique an experience I was having. Here I was in Africa, listening to the US President speak on what was to him both home and foreign soil, with a man to whom it was entirely native. And yet our interests were linked. It was at once both very Ugandan and very American. I felt as though I was experiencing the event from both sides, which is surely not something many can boast. My friend Claire coined an apt phrase, Ameri(Uganda)ca, which I think applies. It was a pretty AmeriUgandaca moment.

US-DIPLOMACY-OBAMA-AFRICAAs I read more into the details of Obama’s Africa trip, I realized just how momentous an occasion it was. Of course both heralded and criticized, it is agreed upon by all that the trip was significant and holds great potential. Critics have faulted Obama for not visiting Africa earlier or more extensively, comparing his involvement to the large-scale initiatives of Clinton and Bush (AGOA and PEPFAR, respectively). But others have countered with “better late than never,” and on an even more positive note, that his announced future plans are “well worth the wait.” By far the most notable event was Obama’s announcement of “Power Africa.” An initiative to double access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa and bring power to millions currently living “off the grid,” Power Africa is an ambitious plan. Ambitious, but in all the right ways.

Officially partnered with 8 countries, Power Africa aims to bring 10,000 megawatts of electricity to the countries of Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, and Nigeria in the next five years, and will focus on responsible resource management of oil and gas in Uganda and Mozambique.

This energy push will be supported by both the US government and affiliated organizations and by US private sector companies. Seven billion dollars will come from the US in the next five years, and $9 billion has been promised by various private companies looking to power an additional 8,000 megawatts of power.

Though at first glance this looks like an enormous American good-will mission, such an assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. As President Obama stressed over and over, this is no handout. “We are moving beyond the simple provision of assistance, foreign aid,” he said, “to a new model of partnership.[1]” This is an investment, a partnership, and a step forward and upwards for both the US and the African nations involved.

In a line that would never find a home in a speech about a new foreign assistance plan, President Obama promoted the American benefits of Power Africa: “This is not charity. This is self-interest.” He explained, “Our fortunes are linked like never before, so more growth and opportunity in Africa can mean more growth and opportunity in the United States.” This is not financial aid but financial investment.

As a foreign assistance mission, the focus on power would be significant and substantial. But as a partnership? The most apt term I’ve heard it labeled is catalytic.  The focus on power is right on target for sky-rocketing development. Tony Elumelu, head of Heirs Holding, succinctly highlights the genius of the plan: “You can decide to take on everything on earth and do nothing. But to take power alone and give it a strong push means that in the next 5 years this continent can totally transform.[2]” The possible benefits are two-sided, incentivizing each side to hold up their ends, and fostering long-lasting cooperation and success. In their coverage of Obama’s trip, the New York Times explained the significance of increased electricity across Africa; electricity “would mean light for schoolchildren to do their homework after sunset and refrigerators to keep food from spoiling. It would also mean more jobs and more development.” With access to power, education, entrepreneurship, and trade have the potential to surge years ahead of their current state. Power also means access to internet, something BOSCO has seen the value of for years now. Reliance on foreign aid will be a thing of the past, replaced with a bright future of collaboration and business partners.

What are the logistics of this grand new partnership? Where will the billions be going? To give a sampling: the $5 billion from the US Export-Import Bank will support US exports in developing power projects on-site in Africa; another $1 billion from former President George W. Bush’s Millennium Challenge Corporation will aid with start-up power systems; Aldwych International and Harith General Partners go progressive and are investing a combined $1.8 billion in wind power.

Another major stream of funding is being funneled into start up grants. The USADF (U.S. African Development Foundation) will be offering $2 million in grants of up to $100,000 in its “Off-Grid Energy Challenge.” The challenge caters to African-owned and operated enterprises that are using proven technologies for off-grid electricity benefitting rural and marginal populations (read: projects like BOSCO).  Again, this move from handouts to start ups and grants promises payback and thus solidifies interest and commitment.

By far the greatest thing about the Off-Grid Energy Challenge, though, is that it puts the solution in African hands. This is no presumptuous White House sweep-in. Washington has, it seems, recognized that Africa most likely holds the best-fitting key to its own future. The competition only awards prizes to fully African-owned and –operated organizations, and seeks to discover “how Africa’s challenges on power can best be solved from an African perspective.[3]

Tony Elumelu speaks about his company’s investment of $2.5 billion (as of yet the single largest private-sector pledge):

 “It’s a partnership. You need American government, African governments, development NGO’s, America and African private sector…We need to work together to make this happen… This is why I believe the president has chosen these six or seven countries – these have shown transformational leadership so others can see ‘if you want your country to improve, put the right policies and environment in place…That also becomes a subtle signal to the political people to make sure their environments are competitive.”

His is not a large-scale donation. It is an investment. Elumelu warns, however, that the hardest part is ahead of us. In order for transformation to take place, serious commitment is crucial: “It’s not the number of [Obama’s] visits that make it important; it’s the seriousness with which he engages.” This commitment applies to both the US and the work on the ground. Both sides, it seems, will get what they put in.

As Obama said in one of his last speeches in Tanzania, “The world is investing in Africa like never before.  In fact, we’re close to reaching a historic milestone where foreign aid to Africa is surpassed by foreign investment in Africa.  And that’s great news.”

I look forward to tracking this initiative in the coming years, and anticipate many new ideas stemming from Africa’s increase in power. To be cheesy, power is power. As BOSCO understands so well, the simple gift of power, of internet access, can open the door for exponential growth. The intersection of information and ideas made possible by connectivity creates avenues for which the possibilities are endless.  It is great news, indeed.

Sarah Lovejoy is originally from Tacoma, Washington and currently studies in the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She is excited to be interning with BOSCO-Uganda during the 2013 summer and will be providing regular updates from Gulu, Uganda during the 2013 summer.


Closing Out 2012 and Looking Forward to 2013

BOSCO-Uganda logo with tagline

BOSCO-Uganda would like to wish all our partners and users in Uganda and around the world a Happy New Year!

2012 was another successful year for BOSCO-Uganda as plans were made for future expansion into new areas in northern Uganda and key partnerships were secured that will help us bring innovative ICT solutions and entrepreneurial training to new and existing locations across northern Uganda. Continue reading Closing Out 2012 and Looking Forward to 2013

BOSCO joins new connectivity, entrepreneurial training, smart electrification study

BOSCO-Uganda is proud to announce an exciting and innovative new partnership with the University of Notre Dame’s Initiative for Global Development, the 31 Lengths Campaign, and Educate! to bring solar powered micro grids, Internet connectivity, and entrepreneurial training to a number of sites in northern Uganda. Accenture and the Accenture foundations have funded the initial pilot portion of the grant for $550,o00 over two years. Continue reading BOSCO joins new connectivity, entrepreneurial training, smart electrification study