Tell us your story
Tell us your story
How has offline Wikipedia affected you? The Wikimedia Foundation (the non-profit that supports Wikipedia) is looking for personal, diverse and inspiring stories about how offline Wikipedia affects the world. If you have a personal story that you would like to share, please contact: Thank you!

User:Reg/Sustainable Wikimedia Center

From Kiwix
< User:Reg
Revision as of 09:04, 7 February 2013 by Reg (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

Abstract: This is a Project Proposal regarding the creation and support of an Open-Knowledge-oriented center in Bamako, Mali.

Wikimedia ?

Wikimedia in Wikimedia Center is used in this document as a shortcut to everything related to the Free Knowledge movements. It refers to every Wikimedia projects of course, but also Open Street Map, Free Softwares, Free cultures, Peer-education, and every projects centered around sharing knowledge.

We found the term Wikimedia to be relatively easy to assimilate to those by this document's audience.

Who we are

We are a group of Free Knowledge enthusiasts in Bamako with supportive friends abroad. In the past years, we've achived:

  • moulin, the Offline Wikipédia reader (now Kiwix). Deployed widely in Mali and distributed in the middle east.
  • La Source, a wooden-made Offline free content (books, movies, software) kiosk.
  • Bamanakan and Songhai in the French Wiktionary (4,000+ words)
  • Wiktionary-to-paper dictionary converter.
  • Open Street Map of Bamako.
  • Advocacy & Trainings.

The project would be implemented by a private Malian software company (Yeleman[1]) in which some of us work.

Yeleman is a small Malian company providing software services which are all Free Softwares.

Yeleman has already been contracted a couple of times by Wikimedia CH to work in related areas.

Why a Wikimedia Center

From all the Wikimedia-related activities we conducted, we learned the following:

  • There are tons of educated idle youth due to the very high unemployment rate.
  • They are starting to own computers (netbooks mostly).
  • They are starting to use Internet through mobile dongles.
  • They are using Internet only for Entertainment (Facebook, Youtube).
  • They don't know Wikimedia. At best, they recall using it accidentally.
  • From Afripedia:
    • They love Wikimedia and are eager to get more content (Wikisource for instance).
    • They are interested in contributing.
    • They lack contributing skills: Wikipedia-grade writing skills, source-finding, knowledge of the rules.
    • Most of them are using those tools (Computer, Browser, etc) instead of mastering them.
    • They love to contribute to Commons.
  • They love contributing to OpenStreetMap (interestingly, they prefer to contribute to it than to use it). They would generally map their neighborhood immediately but going further requires transport and motivation which they lack. Solution to this is to enroll more people.
  • Wikimedia's values are disruptive.
  • They don't do much volunteering (it's very uncommon here).
  • Contributing at home is a real challenge:
    • Have a computer.
    • Computer must be in condition (not dead-slow due to viruses), with appropriate softwares, etc. Note that computers are usually shared with family & friends.
    • Be allowed to use electricity (electricity is really expensive and head of household might prevent youth from wasting it).
    • Find a moment of quietude. Bedrooms if any are shared with siblings and TV is usually on & loud at all time. Also, mosquitoes harass the ones willings to work outside when it's dark.
    • Have a Internet equipment (dongle)
    • Have units for the Internet connection. Those offers are paid-by-bytes ones.
    • There's no direct outcome to contributing to Wikimedia.

All those reasons combined makes the need for a Wikimedia Center imperious: a place where they could go, get informed then trained and supported ; have access to a free and decent Internet and feel part of a community.


Since 2007 and the success of our Wikipedia reader, we have wanted to create such a Wikimedia Center. We have invested a lot of personal money, time and efforts into this without success.

In our mind, a Wikimedia Center is a place where anybody can come to:

  • Learn about the Projects, the Movement, what's going on.
  • Receive training in using those projects.
  • Receive training in contributing to those projects.
  • Receive assistance & support.
  • Access resources (Computer, Internet, Camera, etc)

We did provide all this but it always collapsed due to the lack of Money & Human resources.

  1. Money.
    Money is needed to pay for Computers, furnitures, Internet connection, the rent of the place, the electricity bill, accessories and to fix equipments. Because we wanted this to be 100% free for users, we had to pay for everything ourselves. A couple of motivated volunteers can't handle that for long.
  2. Human resources.
    We wanted to rely only on volunteers also. Because there was no volunteers at first, we were needed a lot but we hadn't enough time for it.

The Solution

Video tour of the location

It's been more than a couple of years since we abandoned efforts on the Center Project. Not that there is no need for it, but because we had no strong plan for it to be sustainable. We believe we are now ready to experiment something else and are sure it will succeeded this time.

Our solution is to tie it with the co-working space that Yeleman is about to open. The co-working space (Jokkolabs) has various objectives from which a few are shared with the Center:

  • The space is part of the Jokkolabs Movement. A Network of co-working space (Senegal, France so far) valuing open knowledge and community interactions. Learn more on the website.
  • The space does not target primarily the Center audience but entrepreneurs and is thus paid-for. This is critical as this will ensure the sustainability of all activities.
  • The space provides all the logistical resources needed: place, seats, connectivity, electricity, etc.
  • The space is closed every Friday afternoon to host events and trainings. This is where the Center becomes active by providing regular, open presentations and trainings on Wikimedia activities.
  • The space is closed on Week-ends to allow enthusiasts to regroup and work together on activities.
  • The space hosts an Afripedia hot-spot with permanent access on the terrace.
  • The space offers a couple of co-working seats for top contributors.

Beside, the space also offers:

  • Great working environment for a fantastic price.
  • Weekly (when not Wikimedia) presentations and trainings on Entrepreneurship, Knowledge building/sharing, Technology, Open Data, etc.
  • A Community of workers and value-sharing people. In Senegal, Jokkolabs achieved to build a sense of community to the various Linux, Free Software, Activists groups.

Pairing the Center with the co-working space solves the Money & Resources problem clearly. It ensures also that the space will be running for long as the co-working space is not-for-profit and all revenues are invested in the space (Jokkolabs policy).

Also, the frequent, regular, dedicated presentations & trainings on Wikimedia ensures that we will be able to reach a lot of people. A part of those numerous attendees is expected to embrace the movement and become trainers and leaders. Once we have leaders, the community is on rails and we'll mostly provide resources and space (week-ends).

Initial results from Afripedia and attendees of the Afripedia weekly meetings at the University shows a great interest at least for students. Afripedia leaders are eager to see the Center alive to take over on advanced training and create a city-wide community (center is located on the other bank of the city).

The Need

The co-working space is ready to open soon as Yeleman invested a lot of efforts and Money into it already:

  • Space-creation work (construction, security, paintings)
  • Solar-powered electricity backup
  • Load-balanced Internet Connection setup
  • A/C in both co-working/presentation space & Meeting Room
  • Furnitures and equipments (screen, projector, white board, etc)
  • Trainings chairs

Those investments are close to $10,000 which is a lot of money for our small company (r.c the co-working space is non-profit).

We are seeking assistance from the Wikimedia movement in paying the recurrent costs for the first year of operation. Indeed, there is no co-working space in Mali and the values we are bringing in are very disruptive to the Malian culture where knowledge is an asset that you don't share nor even sell because that's a way to earn money.

We thus expect sustainability to take some time as we turn protective entrepreneurs into social change actors.

Here's a list of costs we are seeking support for:

Item Cost in XOF Quantity Total USD (450F)
Internet Connection (384kbps) / year 324,000F 3 972,000F $2,160
Electricity (400KWh/mo) 55,600F 12 667,200F $1,483
OSM Equipment (HOT to provide a list) XXX XXX XXX XXX
Communication XXX XXX XXX XXX


We believe in the success of this project, which we will monitor and evaluate using the following indicators:

Indicator Expected
Number of outreach presentations given XXX
Number of attendees to presentations XXX
Number of training sessions given XXX
Number of attendees to trainings XXX
Number of Wiki/OSM User accounts created XXX
Number of substantial edits made (or created articles) by them XXX
Area mapped in OSM XXX
Number of users-started events hosted XXX
Did it lead to community? XXX
Did it lead to (the premises of) a chapter? *** XXX

*** Note: We do not want to encourage the creation of a chapter. We believe that a chapter is the very last evolution step of a community and we don't want to influence people in going that direction. A chapter means money which might pervert the goals of a nascent community. We are ready to assist any genuine community in getting more organize and recognized. Hopefully, it will result in a chapter some day.