Twoobii helps to bridge the Kunene

Phillepus Uusiku
The Kunene River forms the border between Namibia and Angola, and flows through some of the most remote and inhospitable parts of southern Africa. It is also a very important area for wildlife, including unique and rare desert-adapted species.
Cooperation between the two governments has enabled the creation of the Iona-Skeleton Coast Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA). TFCAs are a relatively modern innovation, and are based on recognising that ecosystems do not stop and start at national boundaries. Within the TFCA, conservation projects, consisting of cross-border ecosystem management and wildlife protection, were initially managed under the auspices of the EU-funded SCIONA project. This project ran successfully for its planned duration of three years, beginning in February 2018.
Alongside the implementation of TFCAs, the inclusion of local communities in conservation management decisions is a welcome and effective development in African ecology. Whereas natural resources and protected areas used to be typically run by government departments, management authority is increasingly being devolved to local stakeholders – that is, members of the communities that share the ecosystems with wildlife.
These successes have been achieved despite the challenges of operating in such a remote location – well beyond the reach of mobile broadband technology or fibre-optic connectivity. This was potentially problematic, as the SCIONA team, led by the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), needed to be able to install and use wildlife monitoring technology in the TFCA, to research and share information, and also run a head office in the small town of Marienfluss. This office required broadband connectivity, a Wi-Fi access point and an alternative power source to eliminate the risk of power outages. NUST/SCIONA approached Q-KON Africa to provide connectivity services.
The terrain in the area further complicated the task of establishing and maintaining connectivity, with significant mountain ranges compounding the difficulty of transmitting signals using terrestrial technology.
This is exactly the kind of challenge for which the Twoobii Smart Satellite Services system from Q-KON Africa was designed: remote locations requiring fast, reliable, multipoint, anywhere Internet connectivity, at an affordable price point. Supporting a conservation initiative like the NUST/SCIONA project is also perfectly aligned with Twoobii’s sustainability ethos.
“The success of the NUST/SCIONA project is further proof of the power and utility of Smart Satellite Services such as Twoobii from Q-KON Africa,” commented Dr Dawie de Wet, Group CEO of Q-KON Africa. “We are particularly proud that in this instance, our technology benefitted not only the wildlife of the Kunene region, but also the local community – and it continues to do so to this day, with the Marienfluss Digital Hub enabling and empowering livestock farmers and community members,” he added.
Q-KON Africa’s local channel partner, Bradley Technologies, installed a Twoobii system to deliver high-speed, reliable internet with minimal latency. The inclusion of a solar power energy source made this into a true off-grid system, entirely independent of utilities connections and able to deliver connectivity despite the remoteness of the location, and the topography of the terrain.
At Q-Kon Africa, we believe in enduring relationships – and one of the bases of these is reliable technology and solutions that keep on working. This was particularly appropriate in the case of the NUST/SCIONA project. As it was by definition a fixed-term project, a new and exciting possibility came into being in early 2021 as the project wound down.
The Digital Hub which was installed as part of the Twoobii installation for NUST/SCIONA was transferred to the community on completion of the project, where it continues to provide a vital service – namely satellite broadband connectivity that brings community members closer together, and allows them to share up-to-date information on animal movements that could impact on their livestock.
This is a further example of the flexibility and adaptability of the Twoobii system, and its role in enabling livelihoods and enriching lives.
“The Marienfluss community has truly benefitted from Twoobii’s satellite broadband connectivity. They are now able capture incidents related to human-wildlife conflicts, warn surrounding communities of the movement of dangerous wild species, and communicate with distant relatives including their children at schools in town. This often saves them a 200km trip to the town of Opuwu,” commented Tango Amadhila, a member of the SCIONA Research Team from NUST.