Launch of the First Women-Oriented ITU Internet Training Centre at Makerere University

December 4, 2002

Geneva, 03 Dec 2002

Makerere University in Kampala (Uganda) has been chosen as the site of the first women-oriented facility established by the ITU Internet Training Centres Initiative for Developing Countries (ITCI-DC). The ITCI-DC is an initiative between ITU and the private sector in which Cisco Systems Inc. is a key partner.

Makerere is the oldest of 16 universities in Uganda, and its multidisciplinary Department of Women and Gender Studies (DWGS) in the Faculty of Social Sciences is the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. It is therefore deemed to be at the forefront of academic and community initiatives to address gender and development from an African perspective. It works through a comprehensive strategy that includes teaching and training; research, publication and dissemination; outreach, networking and advocacy and gender mainstreaming.

With the support recently obtained from the Carnegie Corporation and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) for ICT training and capacity-building, DWGS is setting up a modern computer lab in a brand-new building. DWGS is committed to integrating ICT in its curriculum delivery methods.

Under the ITCI-DC initiative, DWGS will hold gender-balanced classes in Internet Protocol (IP) technology with the aim of increasing the number of women in the ICT/internetworking workforce. It will work to integrate the Cisco Networking Academy curriculum into the general curriculum offered by the Department with particular attention given to incorporating it into the gender and technology courses. Working professionals are expected to make up 25% of the student body. Bachelor's and master's level courses are being offered in a laboratory with 25 computers, each of which is equipped with Internet access speed of 64 Kbit/s.

The Women's Studies Department will also team up with the Institute of Computer Science at Makerere University and other training institutions such as the Uganda Communications Institute to form a strategy for greater participation of women in ITCI-DC and other ICT initiatives.

"Everything increases exponentially with the Internet, and the access of women to the Internet is also increasing quickly," said Hamadoun I. Touré, Director of the ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau. "The ITCI programme is one of the ways to accelerate greater participation of women in IT and the Internet economy. For many years, ITU considers gender issues in all programmes, projects and activities. This cross-cutting activity is now coordinated by a special Focal Point and a Senior Gender Adviser in our Bureau."

"By equipping more women with leading-edge skills, this initiative is making a great contribution to speed up the integration of gender balance in decision-making and policy formulation in Africa," said Patrick Masambu, Executive Director, Uganda Communications Commission.

"The need to have role models in the ICT-related fields is more present now than it was before, if we are to have a larger number of females in the field," added Erin Walsh, Cisco's Global Manager for the project.

"Today we are witnessing an occasion where ICT is being demystified by locating a local academy in a non-traditional department or institution," Dr. Grace Banteyba-Kyomuhendo, Head of DWGS said at the launch of the Centre. "We are indeed grateful to ITU and Cisco for the support that has enabled the Department to begin the journey of Bridging the Gender Digital Divide in fulfillment of our goal of mainstreaming gender in all sectors."

Makerere University is the one of 15 technical institutions that the ITU Internet Training Initiative is IP-enabling on the continent of Africa. ITCIs are also operational in Angola, Cape Verde, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Cote d'Ivoire, Mauritania, while Kenya and Zimbabwe are poised to follow in the first quarter of 2003.

The ITCI aims to roll out a network of 50 Internet training centres around the world by the end of 2003. The programme aims to train a minimum of 50 students per year at each centre. While aiming for a ratio of 50:50, the programme is committed to ensuring that at least 30% of the recruits will be women. The ITCI programme also endeavours to ensure that the training centres offer three or four places each year to telecommunication professionals.

Additional information on the ITU Internet Training Centre Initiative for Developing Countries is available at http://itu.int/itu-d/hrd/itci/.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Manuel Zaragoza
Project Coordinator
ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT)
Tel: +41 22 730 5428
E-mail: manuel.zaragoza@itu.int

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Cisco news and information are available at http://cisco.com/. More information about the Cisco Networking Academy Program is available at http://www.cisco.com/edu/academies.

International Telecommunications Union - http://www.itu.int

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