Seeking creative solutions to improve the quality and cost of connectivity in remote parts of the developing world was the topic of the first conversation between Edward G. Happ and Dipak Basu ten years ago. Addressing that problem in a very different way was NetHope’s initial challenge, and their breakthrough concept was that pooling the collective talents of multiple NGOs could offer better connectivity solutions faster, cheaper and more effectively. This simple idea was appealing enough for the seven international NGOs to found NetHope in 2001.
Early on, these NetHope members also recognized that the cost of installing and maintaining complex satellite earth stations was expensive and difficult to accomplish. NetHope partnered directly with the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), iDirect and Eutelsat to develop a specialized practical training, fine-tuned to suit NGO field operations. Initially, VSAT installation training was offered in the United States and Europe. Starting in 2007, NetHope partnered with a Kenyan training facility, and advanced VSAT installation training is now offered regularly in Nairobi. NetHope has enabled more than 100 new VSAT installations in the NGO community.
The NetHope Steering Committee for Connectivity launched a campaign in 2011 to accelerate the delivery of broadband networks where they are most needed in the developing world. In partnership with the GVF and 10 member organizations, NetHope is positioning to leverage corporate social responsibility obligations from the private sector in needy African countries such as Congo, Chad, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Central Africa Republic, Kenya and Sudan. In many cases, private sector companies operating in the developing world have fixed corporate social responsibility financial obligations, which could be allocated to funding NetHope’s collaborating-member connectivity initiatives.
Beyond Africa, the case for connecting more offices, humanitarian and conservancy programs in partnership with the private sector is also compelling. NetHope’s continued efforts in this strategic area will have a positive impact on NGO operations and program delivery in Asia, Latin America and other developing regions for years to come.