Page last updated at 17:01 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 18:01 UK

'Youtube is not an option for my students'

Has the internet transformed your life? Share your stories and make connections with BBC News readers from across Africa.

Willy Ted Manga
You can still find valuable resources on 'traditional' websites
Willy Ted Manga, Cameroon

As a network administrator in a school of 1700 students, I have a lot of pain to work efficiently.

Our connection is basically a cable modem. Our bandwidth was 128 Kb/s download and less than 64 Kb/s upload.

Imagine how difficult it can be to deal with this bandwidth, while 20+ users are browsing the web in the same time?

Sometimes kids get frustrated when they can't reach quickly their pages; but they learn to be patient.

I have to put in place filtering - there are websites which are banned or granted only for a short period (especially entertainment sites). Generally we are obliged to avoid video content.

Back to basics

But the students are not really missing important things.

Map of Douala, Cameroon

I think that, even though people are encouraged to access multimedia content, you can still find valuable resources on 'traditional' sites, or websites that have been optimised for lower connections.

Sure, they can't easily access the last video of their favourite singer on Youtube. But like I was saying above, there are priorities.

We need from our officials to drop the prices of the internet connection (they are too expensive) and from our providers a better quality of service. It's a work in progress.

Here are some of your comments:

Juma Kibacha
Juma Kibacha says Tanzanian students struggle to buy or access books online

I work in a college which offers some of Tanzania's best diplomas. However, poor internet connections have significantly hindered our activities and objectives of delivering "first class" education. It has not been easy to access online materials such as journals and books. Likewise, our students and colleges, at large, have always been failing to purchase books and other learning materials from various websites. I genuinely hope that this new technology will have positive impact on the development of African continent.

Juma Kibacha, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Paul Crossley, Tamale, Ghana
Paul Crossley says Ghanaian students are let down by poor telecoms

I am a VSO volunteer at a teacher training college in Ghana. When I arrived I discovered that my college had been paying for a 1M connection for a year but had been provisioned with 256K. Refund? No chance. The consumer has very little power here. The service is intermittent, as is the speed. It took me three hours to download some courseware from the UK and I've had to replace the ADSL modem twice after thunderstorms - it turned out that the building wasn't earthed. I am acutely aware of the benefits that the internet could bring to this part of the world. Books here are in short supply and even teachers do not have access to up-to date research and resources. The internet could change all that but much needs to be done. What I have learned is that poor infrastructure, poor training and a lack of resources has led to DSL being flakey to say the least. Cables are routinely tied to trees, lampposts and the eaves of buildings on their way to the DSL equipment - no consideration of minimum bend radius. Cables are spliced by twisting the ends together without any protection from the elements - to be honest I'm surprised it works at all. I know of one internet cafe that has three connections: satellite, ADSL and Microwave - they switch between them to get the best service. Amazing for this part of the world - most cafes charge you the same whether the internet is working or not.
Paul Crossley, Tamale, Ghana

When I was doing my MBA the school did not provide us with books, we had to fend for ourselves and the internet helped a lot in providing information so we could know what had been found already, what were the conceptual frameworks and emerging trends in the fields of study. With the coming better connectivity through the fibre optic cable backbone, we hope that this will not only translate into faster speeds but also reduced costs which can help proliferate ICT to even the most remote of areas, and such exposure can ignite not just learning but ambition to better themselves for the people.
Wisdom Chitedze, Lilongwe, Malawi

Are you a college student or staff member? How fast is your internet connection? Is it holding back your studies? Send us your comments.

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