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Cybera context & history

Hi all,

Well, it has been 4 months since cybera 1.9.rc1 came out, and lately I have been getting worried mails asking when the next release was due. Have no fear, here it is!
The main reason behind the longer period between the two releases is that I have a real job that is taking up more of my time now. I started Cybera in 2004 when working full time in Africa as a technical assistant to local NGOs. In that capacity, the development of Cybera was part of my job and I could spend a lot of time on it.
This is no longer the case now that I am back in Europe and have gone back to my main job in IT R&D.
This means that from now on I will be spending much less time on Cybera and more making a living. This also means that any time I do spend on Cybera will come out of my spare time, so I need to juggle Cybera and having a private familly life :)

When I published Cybera as a sourceforge project it was mostly in order to provide a simple (well not so simple any more) cyber cafe management system for small cyber cafes. In developing countries, cyber cafes are appearing but the general business model is bad because 1) fixed overhead is generally very high (electricity, phone bills, etc), 2) competition plentiful and 3) technical knowledge, so crucial for maintenance is either non existant or provided at extortionate prices. The bottom line is that, in my experience of Burkina Faso, investing lagre amounts of money in the software needed to run the cyber cafe is not realistic. For this reason I published Cybera as open source. This said, I also activated the Sourceforge donation system and any donations made to the project (none have been made to date) will be entirely used in aid of the original Cybera user: Association Tin Tua.
Cybera was developed in Burkina Faso, West Africa for a local NGO (Non Governmental Organisation) called Tin Tua (www.tintua.org) wishing to facilitate the access to information for the young.
In small and medium African towns, Internet access is as expensive as slow... if existent at all. Only people working for companies or big NGOs have Internet access. People get information through the governmental TV, radios and more rarely newspapers. Young rural Africans are often excluded from the Web and have no idea of the amount of information and knowledge available. In order to train the young in the usage of new technology, Tin Tua decided in 2004, with the financial help of a Canadian NGO ( www.2tiers.org) to build cyber cafes. These are equipped with 4 to 7 second hand computers and a young manager running the business and training people. When looking of Internet cafe software I found that most were expensive and not adapted to the local context so I developed Cybera (since October 2004). Presently, Tin Tua is running 2 cybercafes and would like to open another in a very small town called Bilanga in the north east of Burkina Faso. Any donations to Cybera will be used to help fit out this and subsequent Cyber cafes.

Posted by Samuel Monsarrat 2006-02-21