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From: Yacine Khelladi
Date: Mon, 13 Feb 1995 11:37:27 EST
Published in Matrix News - 8/93
NETWORKING PLANS IN HAITI
By Schiller Jean Baptiste and Daniel Pimienta (*)
Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic (DR) the second
largest island (after Cuba) of the Caribbean. If the main local
dance is called "el merengue" on the Dominican side and "la
meringue" on the Haitian one, there are some more notable
differences between the two countries:
LANGUAGE SUP. POP. GNPper Adult Life Under 5 Forest
000 m Capita Illi- Expect.Mortal. Wood
km2 US$ teracyYears Rate 000 ha
HAITI : FRENCH(1) 28 6.5 370 62 55 133 48
DR : SPANISH 49 7.3 820 20 67 80 629
AVG(2): 19.8 2970 16 68 32
(1) Mainly a french creole
(2) Average figure for Caribbean
Source: "Caribbean Region: Current Economic Situation", 1992,
Beside the figures and the common Caribbean cultural
background, the main other differences lie in the socio-political
situation. Haiti is suffering a long history of instability
together with a profound state of underdevelopment. The history
of the relation of the two countries sharing the Hispaniola
Island is also full of traumas, tension and misunderstandings
(the DR independence from Haiti in 1848, the Trujillo massacre of
17000 Haitians in 1937, the treatment of the Haitian sugar cane
workers in the DR, the high figure of Haitian emigration to the
DR). This peculiar context and the mutual interest of
intellectuals in both sides of the frontier to create the
condition for better understanding and cooperation is to be taken
into account when one focuses networking. The communication by
classical means is weak and has always represented a negative
incentive for cooperation. The creation of computer mediated
communication infrastructures within the island should trigger
the acceleration of the process of cooperation, starting by the
scientific level, and expanding progressively to other sectors.
Another key factor to consider for networking is the size of
the "Haitian Diaspora". The Haitian immigration (USA, Canada,
France, Venezuela) is older than the Dominican and holds an
important number (although difficult to evaluate) of researchers
which should play an active role at this time.
The last key asset is the proportionally very high level of
implantation of organizations linked to development, being those
governmental or not. These organizations should benefit
immediately of this communication tool, and it is expected they
will offer support and funds for the growth of the Haitian
The very situation calls for a coordinated effort for
networking in the two countries. However, the level of political
instability in Haiti has been such that it has frustrated the
intents made to provide a simultaneous solution. In May 1992, the
DR network (REDID: Red Dominicana de Intercambio para el
Desarrollo) was born, and the enthusiastic announcement in many
electronic forums ended with: "A disappointing note to conclude.
The initial objective, stated during the REDALC workshop in July
1991 (when the idea of REDID was crystallized), was to associate
the Haitian researchers to the proposed solution and method.
Unfortunately, present conditions in Haiti have made this
impossible." The Spanish announcements in the REDALC listserv
opened a public reflection about the necessary revision of
existing methodologies in order to face the situation. Three new
key ideas were progressively emerging:
1) The possibility to form a group of network users and
technicians outside Haiti (particularly in the French West
Indies) with the responsibility for the group to build the
network infrastructure and associative grounds upon return.
2) Most of the cooperation projects (and budgets) rapidly started
with the signals of democracy, more rapidly stopped with
military actions, and remains in a wait and see status until new
signs of evolution towards democracy would appear. If morally
apparently wise this way of conducting projects become totally
impractical if the mean period of political change is larger than
the project duration for completion! This analysis conducted to
take the decision not to tight the path of a network project to
the up's and down's of the political context.
3) The technical solution should be technically strong enough to
stay in order even when political turmoils appear again. This is
stated as a network resistant to catastrophic situation, being
natural or not...
Based on these principles which modify the methodology already
tested with success in Peru and the DR (REDALC methodology), and
arise the interest for the packet-radio technics, a plan for a
network in Haiti has been set up and is described hereafter.
There is a State University which gather 60% of the students.
The University of Haiti faced a strong increase of the student
subscription (34%) with the election of President Aristide and is
now terribly suffering of the political situation (cancellations
of teachers, military occupancy...). The university is composed
of 11 units, physically and administratively separated, most of
them located in Port au Prince. There is no PhD level, neither
Masters, neither specific budget for research. The private
universities receive 20% of the students; they are numerous and,
in general, very expensive, the most notable is named Kiskeya.
The remaining 20% students attend non national universities. The
research domains the most notable are agronomic and health.
Although there is no law for non profit organizations, the
number of NGO's is estimated to reach 600, a large proportion
linked to religious charity and 10% of them being international.
The crisis of the state is such than situation occurs where one
NGO manages more money than the corresponding State Department
(for instance, in health). The work of the NGOs always suffered
from the problems of communication; hence, the potential is not
fully utilized and the cooperation within the NGOs and with the
universities is insufficient.
The total number of researcher is estimated (with a very open
scope of definition) toward 1000 persons. There is no estimate
for the diaspora researchers, but there is no doubt the figure is
high both in quantity and quality.
TELECO is the monopolistic government owned company in charge
of all the telephone services. The state national bank (Banque
de la Republique d'Haiti) holds almost all the shares of Teleco.
Beside, a State Agency called CONATEL has the responsibility
to plan, rule and control all the telecommunications services.
In spite of the Teleco monopoly, radio transmissions are widely
spread within the country and services are offered by various
independent companies. Before the embargo, several companies
started competing for the cellular market.
Not all the cities have telephone access, and line quality is
hardly acceptable. The telephone density is close to 0.8 for 100
hab. (compare with the average in LAyC of 65). As of June 1991,
the 15 digital plus 6 analogical CXs allowed a total capacity of
around 50,000 installed lines (only 15% out of the capital). The
number of telephone employees per 1000 lines is 34 (far above the
international standard of 7). The recent months of embargo
constrained all the enhancements projects to be stopped and
induced difficulties in provisioning spare parts for the current
network which are perceptible in the quality of service.
These conditions are not ideal for the rise of the telematic
and VAN market. Nonetheless, on line computer services can be
given at 300 and even 1200 bauds almost everywhere in the
country. Wherever the noise condition is critical, modems with
error correction have always been able to control the situation.
Indeed, since 1989, a small company (TELEMAT) managed a
Galacticom BBS with more than 200 users. The service was
momentarily suspended due to the recent economic situation (there
is no appropriate condition right now for new private
investments), but, during more than three years, the
experiment participated to the CMC learning curve in Haiti.
Beside, the airlines and travel agencies on line computer
service, SITA, is reachable via dedicated lines through Santo
Domingo. Also, some international companies links their computer
in Haiti into their host in the USA, via the PANAFTEL satellite.
Another company called ACN is offering e-mail and fax services
locally and internationally..
Obviously, much has to be done to improve the situation of the
telecommunications in Haiti. However, nothing prevent the use of
low speed data transmission and the rise of a research network.
HISTORIC OF ACTIVITIES
All the past activities presented hereafter are linked to the
REDALC project of Union Latina, an International Governmental
Organization dealing with the promotion of Latin derived
languages and cultures. Mention of Haiti has been found in the
brochure of the CUNET project (Caribbean University Network) of
OAS. During the last regional networking meeting in Guadalajara
(Mexico), the OAS person stated the intention of his Organization
to incorporate Haiti to Cunet, but we are not aware of any action
plan yet. Rio project of Orstom had no plan, as of last year.
Other activities or plans may exist outside of our knowledge. If
so, we ask the managers to please contact us in order to try to
federate or coordinate the efforts.
Union Latina started the project for a regional network in
Latin America (REDALC) in 1988. A feasibility study for REDALC
was funded by EEC and executed between 1990 and 1992. Haiti was
one of the eight countries of the study.
In June 1991, a REDALC consultant (Jean Marie Burgaud) made the
diagnostic for the research and telecommunication situations and
organize, together with a documentalist in mission in Haiti for
6 months (Michel Perdreau) and an Haitian telematic specialist
(Schiller Jean Baptiste) the first coordinated action for network
promotion. This mission concluded positively in term of
feasibility and a list of partners were identified.
In July 1991, the first REDALC international workshop was held
in Santo Domingo, with the main objective to consolidate the
intermediary results of the regional study. A secondary objective
was to prepare the condition for the creation of the Dominican
and Haitian networks. The idea of a coordinated pair of networks
in Haiti and DR appeared as a desirable solution. The brutal
change of the political situation in Port au Prince jeopardized
the plan. A positive side effect remains the fact that a kernel
of Haitian people participated actively in the steps toward REDID
(Patrick Tardieu from the Haitian Embassy in Santo Domingo, and
Schiller Jean Baptiste, in Port au Prince).
In April 1992, a study conducted by the Redalc's Office of
Union Latina, in French West Indies, concluded with the interest
for Martinica to provide a multi-media training center to teach
locally and remotely network users and technicians.
In July 1992, during the workshop organized by Unesco/Cresalc
and Redalc's Office to intensively train the Dominican users,
the theme of the Haitian network was treated by a subgroup of the
teachers and a strategy was set up based on the training of
Haitian users and technician outside Haiti. Martinica was
identified as a potential good candidate (would the conclusion of
the mentioned study be followed on), taking into account the
language, the proximity, and the will of the French Antilles to
participate to the Caribbean cooperation.
In November 1992, with the financial contribution of
Unesco/Cresalc, the Redalc's Office prepare the draft for a
network project in Haiti, which incorporate all the previous
In March 1993, a "Caribbean Networks Integration Meeting" was
scheduled in La Habana. This event, where an important Haitian
participation was expected, had to be postponed. The Redalc's
Office took the decision to redefine the meeting in Santo
Domingo, with an objective limited and dedicated to Haiti.
SANTO DOMINGO NETWORKING WORKSHOP FOR HAITI
The workshop was held in April, from 11th to 16th, in the
REDALC's Office in Santo Domingo. The event was sponsored by
Union Latina, the Haitian Embassy in Santo Domingo,
Unesco/Cresalc, University of Quebec, and four Haitian NGOs:
INTER-OPD, CRESFED, CRESDIP, GHRAP.
To reach a final definition for the Haitian Network Project, in
a participative fashion, between future end-users and network
administrators, the Redalc's Office and other international
-Expose the Haitian group to a fast learning curve on networking.
-Diagnose the telecommunications, computer and research
-Explore technical solutions considering national and external
-Propose solutions in term of organization.
-Determine possible funding sources.
-Provide a synthesis and integration of the previous points
within a project framework capable to receive funding.
Senaida Jansen, REDALC's Office
Schiller Jean-Baptiste, Haitian expert in telematics
Sheila Laplanche, Haitian Embassy in Dominican Republic
Daniel Pimienta, Redalc's Office
Camille Charmers, Researcher GHRAP
Nicolas Dauphin, Researcher in agronomy CRESDIP
Schiller Jean-Baptiste, Expert in telematics
Ernst Mathurin, Researcher GRAMIR
Michäle Romulus, Researcher CRESFED
Joanisse Domerson, CRESFED
>From Redalc's Office:
Senaida Jansen, Sub Director
Cristian Matias, Responsible for technical matters
Daniel Pimienta, Director
>From Dominican Republic:
Ignacio Fernandez, Expert in telematics
Alejandra Liriano, Economist, CIECA
Roberto Reyna, Sociology, UASD
Jean Marie Burgaud, Consultant economist, specialized in Haãti
Michel Cartier, Professor Mediatics, UniversitÇ de QuÇbec
Pablo Liendo, Regional Correspondent for REDALC's Office,
The workshop received also a remote support from the Latin
American Networking School of Merida (Venezuela), Sam Lanfranco
from CERLAC (York University), Yves Henry from SEMAIR
(Martinica) and JosÇ Silvio from Cresalc/Unesco (Venezuela).
CONTENT OF THE WORKSHOP
-Introduction to Mediatics, Michel Cartier
-Introduction to Technological Watch, Michel Cartier
-Introduction to CMC and Networks in LAyC, Daniel Pimienta
-REDALC Methodology, Daniel Pimienta
-The REDID case study, Senaida Jansen
-A systematic approach for end-user network diffusion, Pablo
-Presentation of the current Haitian network project, Daniel
-Haitian general environment, Jean Marie Burgaud
-Panorama computer, telecommunication, telematic in Haiti,
Schiller Jean Baptiste
-Panorama universities and research activities in Haiti, Camille
-The situation of research in the agronomic field, Nicolas
Group working sessions:
-Social impact of networking in Haiti.
-Main consensual lines of the project.
-The right methodology for Haiti.
-Perspectives in the research and telecommunication fields.
-Panorama of the situation in the documentation field.
-Reports and analysis of the working groups results.
-Synthesis and action plan.
-Evaluation and conclusion.
Working groups with stated objectives:
The workshop reach all the fixed objectives and was the trigger
point of a series of activities back in Haiti.
After the return in Haiti of the group, a permanent structure
(the "Initiative Group") was constituted to manage the project:
- Camille Charlmers (GHRAP), coordinator
- Michele Romulus (CRESFED)
- Nicolas Dauphin (CRESDIP) (later replaced by Rony Smart)
- Ernst Mathurin (Inter-OPD)
- Schiller Jean Baptiste (TELEMAT and ACN), technical responsible
Communications between the Redalc office in Santo Domingo and
the Initiative Group became no longer a problem when ACN offers
freely its e-mail facilities. More than a hundred messages were
exchanged since the establishment of the link, in May 93, and the
redaction of this paper is a good example of e-mail cooperation
between Haiti and the DR.
The project was divided into four phases:
Phase 0 (pre-study) and phase 1 (the workshop) are already
Phase 2 includes all actions regarding the definition and
promotion of the project, and is scheduled to be completed by
Phase 3 will deal with the implementation of the network.
A key part of the current phase is to give access to a group
of 50 researchers to the Internet, using the ACN facilities.
This will allow the understanding of the behavior a group of
users, in order to take any necessary corrective action before
the final definition of the project. The project is clearly user
and service oriented. All the necessary support have to be
organized to make the users participate in the network creation
and later in the network services. Within few days the procedure
for the creation of the Haitian Internet domain will be
completed. At the same time, CONICIT of Venezuela would have open
a listserv for Haiti (HAITI-L@CONICIT.VE).
The Initiative Group has distributed the tasks among six
-Research and Educational activities in Haiti
-Technical aspects of the network
-Network services (Data base and information services available
-Organization and institutional aspects of the project
-User education and promotion of the project
Most of these committees have already started their
The technical committee will be ready for reporting and cost
estimating by July (Note: there is will to participate in INET93,
but no fund are available). All the committees will release and
consolidate their final conclusions by end of phase 2 (11/93)
when the final project will be defined.
The financial aspect of the project does not only concern the
implementation stage. Money is required during the next six
months to finance the organization of some training seminars for
the prospect users, promotional activities, the cost of the
telecommunication link for the initial group of 50 users, the
technical studies, and the organization of a Project Office in
Haiti. Actually the Initiative Group is formed by volunteers,
they will not be able for a long time to continue to use for the
project only the operational structure of their different
The organization committee has the challenge to define a
provisional structure which will allow the users to manage
themselves the institution created, while making it possible for
the Initiative Group to work on a legal basis, even before the
creation of the network.
The main task right now, besides the technical evaluations is
to motivate the researchers and their institutions and obtain
their support. It is known that people does not easily change
their habits, mainly when it has to do with their perception of
their environment. When you have concluded that a certain number
of things are impossible, they remain impossible in your mind
whatever the reality became. This is true as far as access to
information is concerned. Linking Haiti to the Internet does not
solve the problem. People have to be educated and motivated in
order to use those facilities. We can see right now that the main
difficulties of the Initiative Group is to bring the prospect
users at work around the project.
To achieve the educational work, key people capable to
disseminate motivation and participation around them have to be
found. As an example, a full day meeting of the Haitian
librarians and documentalists was organized, under the
supervision of Wilfrid Bertrand, the Director of the National
Archives of Haiti. The objective was the evaluation of the new
environment which should emerge from the Haitian network. The
information professionals decided to give full support to the
project and formed a permanent comity to represent them and make
the necessary follow-up with the Initiative Group.
PLAN FOR THE HAITIAN NETWORK
The future "Reseau Telematique Haitien pour la Recherche et le
Developpement" (REHRED), will include all the services which are
required by a national research network.
The link to the Internet will be done by connecting to Santo
Domingo, and to Puerto Rico or Miami. The two gates will be
handled by two different servers for redundancy and backup
purpose. The Puerto Rican (or Miami) gate might be carried by a
VSAT, so in case anything happen to the regular link through
SantoDomingo, the network will remain operational.
Inside the country, users will access via the telephone
network, although we know that some of them will be obliged to
use packet radio transmission and spread spectrum in order to
overcome the absence of telephone in some region of the country.
REHRED must now become not only a project handled by the whole
Haitian community, but also the opportunity for the distant
Haitian researchers who are willing to help their country.
Haitian diaspora are called to give time and support to an
initiative capable to reduce the distance to their native
country. The challenge deserved to be shared by hundreds of
Haitians, in Haiti, and around the world. The Haitian diaspora
community should bring his daily contribution to the building of
the country, to reshape the new Haitian, to help colleagues in
Haiti reach the same technical level as them.
REHRED is openly and widely looking for financial and technical
supports from other countries and organizations. Any funding or
user participation offer will be more than welcome.
REHRED hope is to be a basic stone in the process of
reconstruction of Haiti and to help the country participate to
the global development.
-Schiller Jean-Baptiste studied Computer Science, Data
Communications (NRI) and Data Entry Management (DEMA). He started
working in the computer field as System Manager of Alpha
Electronics from 1983 to 1989, creating the first Haitian BBS
(Telemat) and the first computer Haitian newspaper (Telemag). In
1991, he participated to the creation of ACN (American Caribbean
Network) a company marketing e-mail and fax transmission, with
branches in Port au Prince, Miami and Santo Domingo.
He can be reached via the Internet by courtesy of Cristian
-Daniel Pimienta, PhD in Computer Science, University of Nice
(France) worked until 1988 as System Architect and Planner in IBM
Telecommunication Labs, and since then is the Director of the
Redalc's office of Union Latina and dedicated to networking in
developing countries, mainly in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Responsable de Proyectos - Project Officer.
Fundacion Redes y Desarrollo -Networks and Development Foundation- FUNREDES
Telephone: (1-809) 535 24 22 e-mail: email@example.com
Fax : (1-809) 535 66 46
Address : Alma Mater, 167. Zona Universitaria,
Santo Domingo, P.O.Box 2972