Category Archives: Projects

ICT4Uganda spin-off selected for EU blogging competition TH!NK3

www.ICT4Accountability.wordpress.com, one of the blogs started by a former New Media student of the UvA, is officially selected to compete in the internationally renowned blogging competition’ TH!NK3’. This blogging competition, set up by the European Journalism Centre, will bring together some 100 bloggers, journalists, issue experts and students from the 27 EU member states, as well as neighborhood countries and beyond, to exchange ideas and debate sustainable development and global cooperation topics. Winners of the competition will be awarded with opportunities to travel and report from Asia and Africa. The big prize is a trip to the UN headquarters in New York in September 2010, at the time of the Millennium Development Goals summit.

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Gulu visit I: BOSCO and ICT4D in Rural Uganda

BOSCO site volunteers Coope

BOSCO site volunteers Coope


22 years of internal strife by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people living in the northern part of Uganda. In 2007 a total of 31 IDP camps (which now are called Community Centers) with all together 214,908 people have been administrated to which food aid was being distributed. Now that the situation is stabilizing, many inhabitants are leaving the camps to return to the land that was once their home. But in doing so they encounter a new array of problems and difficult challenges to overcome. I visited two different IDP camps along with 2 different organizations that were active and carrying out projects to sustain the community and improve the lively hoods of the people i.e. BOSCO Uganda and SOVCO Uganda.

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Visiting KIFAD in Kampala

KIFAD office

KIFAD office

I had the opportunity to visit the Kiyita Family Alliance for Development (KIFAD) last week. KIFAD is a local community based Non Governmental Organization with its headquarters in Nansana Town Council in the Wakiso District of Kampala. As they explain in their mission statement, “KIFAD stands out to challenge and respond to causes and consequences of disease, poverty and ignorance with a commitment to mobilize communities to solve their own problems and live with dignity”. Continue reading

Global Teenager Project Chat @Afrikadag2009

The GTP @ Afrikadag 2009

The GTP @ Afrikadag 2009

“Pack your old bag and let us take you back to school. However, you can leave your pen and paper behind because you are virtually connected to your classmates from all over the world.”

Saturday the 25th of april, around 1500 people from all across the country found their way to “Afrikadag 2009” in The Hague. This event was dedicated to Africa and Development issues concerning Africa. In the morning and afternoon a total of 45 debates and 8 cultural programs were organized on a wide variety of development subjects. There also were various stands where organizations and NGO’s handed out information, gathered signatures for petitions, collected opinions and much more. Continue reading

What is it like to be a programmer in Kampala? (Part 3)

Career Event at the Makerere University

Career Event at the Makerere University

What are the challenges of being a programmer in Kampala?

Resources. The software isn’t in great condition and they are always forced to use platforms that are JUST acceptable. Programmers here get tired of using simplified versions that don’t give them full access to the software’s potential. A lot of times, and because they don’t have the money, they are forced to use unauthorized versions. This makes it harder for them to publish code when they know it wont be accepted. There is also a fear of being tracked down for using unlicensed software. This limits the programmer’s ability to push the potential. Continue reading

What is it like being a programmer in Kampala? (Part 1)

young_programming_talent

The past few days I have spent considerable time with young programmers here in Kampala, Uganda. I wanted to know what it was like to be designing tools and applications for the Ugandan market.

Most of the students I spoke to did not really use mobile phones or the Internet until they got to University. Only then did they get access to these technologies. At the same time, many of them had already made the decision to study computer programming and ICTs. Continue reading

Growing efforts to incubate software projects in Kampala

Young Programmers in Kampala

Young programmers inspire in Kampala

I have spent several days at the Department of Software Development and Innovations (DSDI) at the Makerere Faculty of Computing and ICT. The DSDI is a recent establishment of FCIT’s engagement in applied Software Research and the application of ICT in Education in Uganda. DISD focuses on the growth of software conception, design and development capacity at the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology. This is out of the belief that ICT plays an important role in development, and that local capacity to build and exploit ICT innovations is critical. Continue reading

Visit Software Factory Uganda

Software Factory Uganda

Software Factory Uganda

Today I had the pleasure to meet Raymond Rugunda, the Director of Software Factory. Based here in Kampala, his company provides software development services to private and public companies based in Europe and North America. Started in 2007, the company now has 26 employees and includes graduates from the Makerere, Nkozi and Mukono University. 70% of his employees graduated with honors and needless to say he has some great talent amongst his ranks. Continue reading

Next Silicon Valley in Kampala?

Silicon Valley In Africa? Is it possible, is it going to happen and where?

It is now my fourth day in Kampala and each day is more exciting than the last. The more people I meet the more I start to feel the emergence of a real tech scene here in the city. The incredible energy, drive and spirit is hard to ignore. It is exciting to see what kind of infrastructure is already in place and I am sometimes taken aback by the level of activity.

This is a posting I will be continually updating as I go along. What are your thoughts on the subject and how does Kampala compare to places like Nairobi, Lagos and Jo’Burg? As always, I invite any feedback, thoughts and ideas on the subject!

What is the Market potential?

The global market for IT services is worth one trillion US Dollars. Uganda has the potential to attract some of this business and offers a number of advantages i.e. preferential access to the European Union, United States of America, Canada and Japan for the ‘generalised system of preferences.’ Bilateral trade and investment agreements have also been signed with the United Kingdom, Italy, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Egypt, India, China, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Denmark, Mauritius and Switzerland. These agreements create a viable market opportunity for IT products from the country.

At regional level, Uganda is a member of a number of economic bodies. Uganda is a member of the East African Union and a member of the common market for eastern and southern African states (COMESA). This represents a market of 20 countries and over 380 million people. The trade volume of COMESA alone is in excess of US$ 90billion (2005). 47% of this market value is comprised of exports. Uganda has worked to reduce barriers to entry, tariffs and other legal hurdles that increasingly make the country conducive to investment.

Also exciting, is to see venture capitalist already here in the country busy searching out opportunities. I will be conducting interviews in the coming weeks and look forward to reporting more on this. Needless to say there is a lot of movement in this space and the timing of my project could not be more critical. I am eager to learn and see more!

Text To Change: Spreading the Message to Stop the Virus

t2c1 “Using SMS technology to spread information about HIV/AIDS among mobile phone users in sub-Saharan Africa in order to measure, analyze and improve knowledge, attitude and behavior regarding HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.”

 

Over the past decade mobile phones and services have taken Uganda by storm. Thanks to the ease in getting a prepaid phone number and the relatively cheap phone prices and phoning costs, mobiles have penetrated the largest part of the population. The mobile phone has provided people, ranging from the densely populated cities to rural communities, with the powerful and life influencing means of distanced communication. These developments have opened-up new doors for health, awareness and education initiatives. With HIV/AIDS being a large health issue, Text To Change  (TTC) is “harnessing the powers” of mobile phone technology by “using it as a medium to communicate health related issues and to support existing prevention campaigns”.

Through an interactive SMS-quiz which lasts several weeks, questions and information about HIV/AIDS is spread among a large amount of mobile phone users about 3 times a week. During the pilot project in 2008 (which has been a great success) a total of 15.000 active mobile users in the Mabarara region were targeted.

  1. First an announcement SMS is sent to the target group announcing the quiz taking place, giving them the chance to enroll in the program.
  2. Then the target group receives, about 3 times a week, questions regarding issues on HIV/AIDS and its prevention, the main focus points being “General knowledge about HIV transmission” and “The benefits of voluntary testing and counseling”. The target group are opted to reply to the questions, and when they do, they receive additional information on that issue if they answered correctly or they receive the right answer with additional information if they answered wrong. Users can earn/win airtime by engaging in the program and answering the questions correctly.
  3. At the end of the program users are provided with information on health clinics near them, and are stimulated to go there for a free checkup and HIV testing.
The TTC system/process chart

The TTC system/process chart

During the program a significant increase has been noticed on patients who came in for testing during a six week period, from 1000 to 1400. This shows the actual impact the project has and the potential it possesses to support in education, awareness and combating disease.

Through this program valuable data and information is collected on the current state of knowledge and awareness amongst the population, which in turn is relayed to health clinics and other organizations in order to improve programs and methods. As they state, “Text to Change aims at establishing partnerships between governments, public and private companies, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), financial institutions and medical experts. Joining forces to achieve a common goal for mutual benefit by sharing skills, resources and risks could be the key to an actual change”.

All together, the TTC project provides a solid base for communicating relevant knowledge to the masses, educating the nation and fighting disease strategically. By seeking a broad range of partnerships and redeveloping their software in open-source they expand the range of possibilities and thus the impact the program can have nationwide (and even continent- or worldwide). Therefore Text To Change is in my opinion, well on its way in achieving their ambition, which is, “to become a global platform of telephony health services”.

Introducing Jonathan Gosier

Jonathan Marks produced a nice interview with Jonathan Gosier from AppAfrica.

His organization facilitates, mentors and incubates entrepreneurs in software in East Africa and Uganda. Specifically, he offers a physical space with a solid internet connection, servers, software and computers that allows students and recent graduates a place to develop their ideas. He also works to help the best projects secure funding and launch as stand alone businesses. The model resembles Y Combinator. For my research it will be important to illustrate both the opportunities and the challenges that come with developing local programming talent. I look forward to learning more about AppAfrica when I am in the country.

Ben

Learn more about my research!
ICT4Entrepreneurship in Uganda