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Internet access in Liberia is very expensive and unfriendly. More than that, these facilities are distance apart and very slow to work with. Unfriendly in a sense that most internet cafés have only one rest room to cater to both males and females, and they (rest room) are usually unsanitary and unsafe for females considering their physiology. Internet cafés are also poorly maintained in terms of their technical efficiency. If you have an important online duty to perform, you pay lots of money because it takes forever for one page to open, least to talk about uploading a document. This is widely believed to be an intentional business strategy for cafes’ owners to gain more profits. Knowing that the cafés are pay for by the minutes and the longer a customer stays the more money the business generates.
One may ask if it is possible to access the internet on a mobile phone. The answer is YES; it is indeed possible but, again it is more difficult especially when you are using a recharge card on your phone. Buying additional units to recharge your cell phone because you need more units on your phone is also an opportunity to access internet. In Liberia we use the pre-pay recharge card for mobile phones and that is the same units on the card that will definitely run out while accessing the internet on your mobile. In fact using the phone becomes more expensive.
Getting a modem to use on your laptop to facility research and online based work is equally tedious and stressful. The modem cost about 80.00 United States Dollars as a monthly bill to maintain and this is a lot of money by Liberia’s present social economic realities. In fact, the issue of electricity is another factor that further hinders the easy access of women to internet facilities both at work and at home. Since the civil conflict, Liberia is still struggling to restore electricity infrastructures which were badly damaged during 14 years of intermittent wars.
In an effort to empower female journalists and build the capacity and self-esteem of women working in the media, the Female Journalists Association in collaboration with her partner organized a three- phase professional training which includes computer and internet journalism training. The goal and intent of the initiative is to provide participants with the knowledge on internet blogging, sharpen their skills on professional internet broadcasting, identify and research issues of relevance and concern to create anti-violence campaign using the internet and cell phones.
15 female journalists were trained in the above skills but due to some challenges have not been able to implement what they were trained for.

This training was a result of a study conducted among female journalists in the country. According to the findings, the low technical capacity of women in the effective practice of modern journalistic skills contributes to the under-representation of female journalists especially at the community radio level.

Now let’s narrow our discussions on women in Liberia accessing the internet regularly and becoming part of this important communication campaign. As for us in Liberia, this is a critical challenge to have Liberian women to fully participate given the barriers that have been built by the systems in Liberia.
In September 2011, the government of Liberia benefitted from high speed internet connectivity through the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) fiber optic submarine cable project which was expected to commence service by mid to late 2012. The project is expected to provide new business opportunities through high speed internet service and increased band-width to support developments in e-commerce and e-governance in the country. Hearing this brought relief and lots of smile on the faces of Liberian but up till now internet service is still expensive as it has been before this announcement and we still wondering what has happen.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

Comments

Kim Crane's picture

Thank you for raising your

Thank you for raising your voice Siatta! I'm glad to see you participated in the Women Weave the Web Campaign!

kellyannaustin's picture

love the details

Siatta,

I love the details you provide about the ins and outs of internet access in Liberia. Too bad much of it looks less than ideal! I was heartened to see that there are a couple of initiatives in the works to address your (and others') concerns. I hope you'll see better outcomes in the near future.

I wonder, did you participate in the training for women journalists?

Wishing you peace,

Kelly

siatta's picture

Yes I did but it just an

Yes I did but it just an introduction to internet journalism so more needs to be done.

Siatta,

Thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge of women accessing the the Internet. The details you provided provided me with a deeper level of insight into the unsafe environments that women in Liberia have to wade through for access to technology. It's encouraging to hear that some level of progress is being made through government projects, and I hope one day there will be subsidies or a slash in prices so everyone can gain Internet access.

William's picture

Use of the Internet in Liberia

Hi Siatta,

You have written a good article, which sets out the difficulties of accessing the Internet and some solutions. I was in Liberia a few years ago and understand about the slow rebuilding of your basic services. Please keep us informed about the progress being made in Liberia and your progress as a journalist.
blessings,
William

Kadidia's picture

Technology

Siatta,

Access to high speed internet seems to be a serious issue in Liberia. After 14 years of a civil war, I am sure that it is a serious struggle for the country to go back to normal. Nevertheless, we all should stay positive and believe that high speed internet will be available this year for Liberians to enjoy this tool and to connect with the rest of the world.
Women journalists are ready to show what professionalism is in this new era.
Have faith and thank you for sharing your story on the Worldpulse platform.

Kadidia Doumbia

KOMoore's picture

Siatta

Hi Siatta,

I am so fortunate to have been assigned as a reader for your written story. It is so important you are making visible the challenges and barriers to internet access for women in Liberia. It sounds like there are also some things to remain positive about; there are women who did access the journalist training, fiber-optic access has been built and research is supporting the need for access. Building on these factors and encouraging others to join your campaign will lead to further change. Do not be discouraged! Keep writing!

I can think of no greater issue than making the world safer for women. It has been important to me to understand what is going on in countries like Liberia. Thank you for educating me. Sometimes we still struggle in the USA too. I will recommend to World Pulse to promote your story.

Warm Regards,

Karen

Kristina M's picture

Thank you for sharing

Siatta,

Thank you for sharing all the barriers that are in place to make accessing the internet difficult. Hopefully some of the initiatives will start to bear fruit and the cost will decline. I agree with you, it is important for women to be able to fully participate and use this remarkable tool.

Kristina

lydiagcallano's picture

Clearly said!

Siatta, I am blessed to have read your piece about the ICT situation in Liberia. You offered a brief but clear story and I was able to relate because the Philippines had similar experiences, including the unsanitary unisex bathrooms especially in rural areas.

I would like to believe that Liberia will one day have an improved ICT scenario. As prices of computers and communication systems go down, more people will be able to afford personal computers and cellular phones with Internet connections. Also, your Internet connections will likewise pick up in speed while its cost will dip.

I can tell because the Philippines has been there. My own university suffered very slow, intermittent, expensive and limited Internet access. Now, we are much better off. Just be patient and expect that things will improve in God's perfect time.

Bless you, my Friend!

Ma. Lydia G. Callano
Iloilo, Philippines
+63 33 3158137 or 5138830

aimeeknight's picture

Hi Siatta, Your post is very

Hi Siatta,
Your post is very well written, you have given a thorough explanation of the challenges you face. You also have such a positive outlook for the future. I’m glad that World Pulse has become a valuable tool for you in your journey.

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