Tag Archives: Mobile

YouTube ‘burden’ creates opportunity in Africa

Creating Mobile Based Social Communities

Creating Mobile Based Social Communities

Tom Pickett, director of online sales and operations at YouTube, says the company still hews to its vision of bringing online video to the entire globe. In the last two years, it has pushed to create local versions of its site in countries like India, Brazil and Poland. But Mr. Pickett also says that YouTube has slowed the creation of new international hubs and shifted its focus to making money. He says that does not rule out restricting bandwidth in certain countries as a way to control costs

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 to be a programmer in Kampala? (Part 2)

Young Programmer

Young Programmer

Why study ICTs?

Some of the programmers wanted to join another program, like engineering or law, but didn’t qualify for the government scholarship program. It seems easier to secure money needed to study ICT. Many of the programmers explained that they are intrigued by electronics. Continue reading

Media Students Embrace digital culture

On Wednesday 8 April, I escorted Ben to Makerere University Faculty of ICT. During our discussions with the deputy dean, we were introduced to the communications manager. After explaining our fields of study, I was requested to make a presentation to the final year class of mass communications on the subject of the new Media. I could not let such an opportunity go by, so I immediately accepted. Continue reading

Ekimeeza, the Peoples Parliament on Radio One

By: Wouter Dijkstra

ekimeeza12I arrived around 2.30 at club Obligato, where the massively popular radio talkshow ‘Ekimeeza’ was about to start. I was welcomed by a series of middle aged men, who directed me to the man sitting at the head of a table. The table was about 12 meters long and seated around 16 people; an audience of about 150 people was surrounding this central structure. ‘Ekimeeza’ is the Ugandan word for ‘big table’; it is the place where Ugandans can speak their mind about issues concerning social and political issues and where they will be heard by the thousands of people tuned in at radio one. Continue reading

Telecom giants fight to paint Uganda in all colors of the rainbow

The field of color psychology attempts to identify the effects of color on human emotion and activity.

The field of color psychology attempts to identify the effects of color on human emotion and activity.

It is amazing to see rural africa painted in the colors of telecom companies. I wonder if people have an opinion about this? Is this a positive or negative development? What are the implications for the people living in these buildings and surrounding communities? If you spend 40% of your income on mobile phone credit, live in a house painted by your telecom provider and depend on most of your income from selling scratch cards, its fair to say the communications industry impacts your life. And is this simply a creative way to make some money and get your building painted or has it somewhere crossed the line?

I will post additional photos as my collection grows! Will also work to add some interviews and impressions from people across the country. Till now I have heard some people say they liked it or didn’t mind. Others have said they were bothered by the colors. Needless to say its time to dig deeper.

zain4

mtn3

warid2

ugandatelecom1

mtn_store_1mtn_storezain_store_2zain_store_3

Mobile phones make a great gift in Uganda

What do you bring as a gift to family you havent seen in a long time? You guessed it! A mobile phone:) I recently visited a family outside of Kampala and I can tell you that the Samsung phone was well received!
mobile_phone_as_gift_low

What percent of your income do you spend on mobile phone credit?

Rashid spends 40% of his income on mobile credit

Rashid spends 40% of his income on mobile credit

Kampala – April 8th – Interview with Rashid

Today I had the opportunity to interview Rashid. He grew up in Kampala and is a student at the Makerere University. He is 27 years old and used a mobile phone and Internet.

Mobile Profile: Unlike other users I have met he has only one mobile phone. But he does have three sim cards (MTN, Zain and Warid)! He subscribed with MTN in 2000 because it was the cheapest at that time. He took a second subscription with Zain in 2006. He took the second subscription mainly because he had a friend who could give him the same phone number as he has on MTN. He took Warid because a friend got him the number and the company was offering free calls in the evening. From about 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. The company doesn’t offer this service anymore and he doesn’t really use the sim card all that much anymore. What really surprised me was to learn that he spends about 40% of his income on mobile phone credit. His other big cost is fuel. I asked what he spends on food, clothes and other things but he gets most of these things through family.

Internet Profile: He uses Internet once a week. His family has a laptop (Dell) at home but the adapter is broken so they can’t use it. A new one is about 80 euro and this is too expensive to buy. Instead he makes use of his uncle’s wireless connection and laptop. This is also not easy as he has to compete for Internet time with his three sisters. He complained that his sisters use most of their time for social networking. He mentioned they use Facebook, Hi5 and e-mail. He mention that he only uses Facebook but can’t keep up with some of his friends. One posts images all the time. But more importantly he uses his Internet time to find articles for school and his research. He spends most of his time on Emerald Insight, a database for publications and research. He also uses e-mail to communicate with friends and professional contacts.

Mobile Everywhere in Kampala

ict4entrepreneurship-zain-poster-2

Kampala – April 6th, 2009

I have just arrived in Uganda and can tell you that the presence of the mobile phone is felt and seen everywhere! Just some notes from my trip from the airport. Upon arriving the first thing you notice is the Orange signs welcoming you to the Entebbe airport. They are now the fifth operator to start up here in the country. Despite the competition they must see a lot of business opportunity. Will double check but heard their initial investment was around 200 million USD (MTN is the largest network in the country, others include Zain, Uganda Telecom and Warid).

Driving from the airport you see nothing but advertisements for mobile networks, phones and services. As in many other countries, Zain has come to Uganda with a mission to paint as many buildings as possible in their bright fucia red and turquoise blue. Have to say the combination stands out when compared to the more neutral Orange and Red of the old Celtel brand. Apparently, Zain and the other companies offer to paint your building for free. Of course you have to be willing to live and work in their colors!

Our driver also had sim cards waiting for us. We had to try a couple of the networks before we could find one with good reception. I thought it was interesting that he has three sim cards (none with any credit) and two mobile phones. Our second friend who came to pick us up had 5 sim cards (one for each network) and three mobile phones (two pre paid). He still has to activate the Orange account but has it on hand just in case!

Ben

Learn more about my research!
ICT 4 Entrepreneurship

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”.

ICT4Uganda pleased to cooperate with the 1%CLUB

Are you familiar with the 1%CLUB?

If you don’t know of them yet, you will soon. The 1%CLUB is an online marketplace for small-scale development projects. Its an innovative platform where individuals and companies are able to contribute 1% of their income, time and knowledge to any project of their choice. It is an innovative way for people to get involved.

The project was started by Anna Chojnacka and Bart Lacroix. For them the project is about taking on the balance between power and the powerlessness. Anna explains, ‘We live in a world where economic resources are unevenly distributed. Working together we can at least ensure that some of these resources end up where they can be very useful!”

As the ICT4Uganda research group we are pleased to be working with the 1%CLUB. We hope to visit some of their projects in Uganda and look forward to sharing our findings with Anna, Bart and the team.

After reviewing projects on their website, I came across the Foundation Cycling out of Poverty. I liked this project because they use mobile phones to help connect a network of health professionals. You can see this video for some additional background.

Location:
Uganda (East Africa)

Description
The purpose of this Health Care Project is to improve the medical service in Katakwi by providing bicycles and bicycle ambulances. These ambulances are equipped with mobile phones needed to link the network of health professionals. The ambulances and mobile phones allow this network to provide an efficient emergency transport system. This project is particularly useful for pregnant women.

If you want to know more about this project check their profile on the 1%CLUB website.
They could use your support.

It would be interesting to include a widget on our blog to see if we can help collect some donations for the project. Maybe this is just the kind of project the ICT4Uganda Research group can help support

Seacom Lands in East Africa – Uganda is Next !

Seacom Cable Lands in East Africa

Seacom Cable Lands in East Africa

[Press Release] The construction of SEACOM’s 15,000 km fibre optic undersea cable, linking South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia to India and Europe, remains firmly on schedule to become the first cable to link east Africa to the rest of the world.

Over the past three months, a number of major milestones were reached including the groundbreaking at the cable station landing sites in Mozambique and Kenya. Construction has started in Maputo and installation of prefabricated cable station buildings has commenced. In Mombasa, foundations are beginning for similar prefabricated stations, which are in-country, ready for installation on site in December.

These containerized cable station modules were shipped from New Jersey to Africa in September. The remaining cable stations for South Africa and Tanzania are on their way to Africa. All of SEACOM’s high-performance submarine transmission equipment has been shipped from the factories and is also on its way to the cable stations. In addition, the first teams of technical staff for the east African landing stations have been selected and will begin training this month.

Nearly 90% of the SEACOM cable has been manufactured. The first load of assembled cable and repeaters is on its way to the region in Tyco Telecommunications’ ship, CS Tyco Reliance. Installation is scheduled to start soon. Loading of the second shipload of cable will begin this month and head towards Africa early in 2009. The third and final shipload of cable and repeaters will follow shortly thereafter. The entire SEACOM network will connect all cable sections together off the horn of Africa in the second quarter of 2009. Testing of the system will then be completed before the commercial launch in June 2009.

Laying Cable into the ground

Laying Cable into the ground

Brian Herlihy, SEACOM President, said: “The project is progressing in-line with our manufacturing and deployment schedules and we remain firmly on-track to go live in June 2009.

“We are particularly pleased with the recent groundbreakings in Kenya and Mozambique. This important milestone gave SEACOM an actual land-based footprint that will allow Tyco Telecommunications, our turnkey project contractor, to install the high-speed optical transmission equipment at these sites soon.

“With only eight months to go before the system is ready for service, SEACOM remains set to be the first cable to connect east and southern Africa to the rest of the world with plentiful and inexpensive bandwidth.”

SEACOM, which is privately funded and over three quarter African owned, will assist communication carriers in south and east Africa through the sale of wholesale international capacity to global networks via India and Europe. The undersea fibre optic cable system will provide African retail carriers with equal and open access to inexpensive bandwidth, removing the international infrastructure bottleneck and supporting east and southern African economic growth. SEACOM will be the first cable to provide broadband to countries in east Africa which, at the moment, rely entirely on expensive satellite connections.

Uganda hosts IST-Africa 2009

ICT Conference Uganda 2009

ICT Conference Uganda 2009

IST-Africa 2009 will be hosted by the Government of the Republic of Uganda through the Ministry of ICT. The event is supported by the European Commission and technical co-sponsored by IEEE. IST-Africa 2009 will take place on the shores of Lake Victoria at Speke/Munyonyo Resort and Conference Centre, Kampala from 6 – 8 May 2009.

Part of the IST-Africa Initiative, which is supported by the European Commission under the ICT Theme of Framework Programme 7 (FP7), IST-Africa 2009 is the fourth in an annual conference series which brings together senior representatives from commercial, government and research organisations across Africa and from Europe, to bridge the digital divide by sharing knowledge, experience, lessons learnt and good practice and discussing policy related issues.

IST-Africa 2009 focus

IST-Africa 2009 will focus on the role of ICT for Africa’s development and specifically on applied ICT research topics addressing major societal and economic challenges, which is part of the European Commission’s Information Communications Technologies (ICT) Theme of FP7. The conference programme combines strategic keynote presentations, technical and policy papers, case studies, workshops, an exhibition and social activities.

IST-Africa directly supports the goals of the Africa-EU Partnership on Science, Information Society and Space, the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST) and the Consolidated Plan of Action for the African Regional Action Plan on the Knowledge Economy (ARAPKE).

In the context of focusing on the role of ICT for Africa’s development, the opening plenary on Wednesday, 6 May will feature a high-level dialogue on Implementation of the Africa-EU Partnership on Science, Information Society and Space. The closing plenary on Friday, 8 May will focus on Initiatives Supporting Development of Regional S&T.

Online payment registration is open with presenter registration due by 9 March and early bird registration available up to 14 March 2009.

IST-Africa 2009 programme

The scientific programme for IST-Africa 2009 is based on an open call for papers which closed in late November 2008. The advance programme consists of two plenary sessions and 38 parallel sessions featuring over 130 presenters from government, commercial and research organisations in 36 countries (20 European countries, 14 African countries, Canada and US). Accepted authors should submit their final papers online by 27 February and registration by 09 March.

Confirmed plenary speakers to date include:

* Dr Ham-Mukasa Mulira, Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Uganda
* Dr. Sally Kosgey, Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Kenya (AMCOST Chair)
* Antti Peltomäki, Deputy Director-General, DG Information Society and Media, European Commission, Belgium
* Dr Hakim Elwaer, Director, HRST, African Union Commission
* Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Ethiopia
* Adem Sumertas, Managing Director, Ericsson Uganda
* Dr. Philippe Mawoko, Programme Coordinator, African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (ASTII) Initiative, NEPAD S&T
* Ilari Lindy, Advisor, Information Society for Development, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
* Thierry Devars, DG Information Society and Media, European Commission, Belgium
* Stijn van de Krogt, Deputy Director, IICD, Netherlands

IST-Africa 2009 Exhibition

IST-Africa 2009 will also feature an exhibition that provides the opportunity to showcase research results and applications through technology demonstrations, whether funded commercially or at national, regional or European level. The Call for Exhibitors is open with a closing date of 27 February.

The goals of the IST-Africa Conference Series are community building to facilitate EU-African research co-operation and successful exploitation of research results, to stimulate take-up of RTD results by industry, small- and medium-Sized businesses and the public sector, to promote knowledge sharing between commercial organisations, government agencies and the research community, to exchange experiences about the current state of eAdoption at a sectoral, national or regional level, support international co-operation and open up the European Research Area (ERA) to Africa.

The IST-Africa Conference will provide a collegiate setting for presentations and discussions of national and regional developments, issues of concern and good practice models. It will also provide an excellent networking environment for delegates to discuss problems, share knowledge, obtain feedback, and learn more about opportunities to participate in ICT Calls under Framework Programme 7 (FP7).

Read more about this event or register to participate here.

ICT 4 Uganda Research Project

Introduction

The breakneck pace of development in African connectivity recognizes important changes taking place on the ground. How do the man and woman in rural and urban Africa engage with new ways to communicate? To what extent is ICT already incorporated into local activities and cultures and what are the motivations behind their usage? What are the new opportunities and challenges ICTs afford civil society and what does this mean for the future development of ICTs on the continent?

To answer these questions a group of four master students, with a common interest and expertise in New Media, propose to write their Master thesis on the topic. Combining Business, Economics, Journalism and Anthropology the group proposes to set up a social research project that touches four distinct fields; Entrepreneurship, Politics, Social Life and Media. This research will take place in Uganda.

An ICT Revolution

Africa is fast embracing Information and Communication Technologies. The continent is experiencing a mobile phone revolution that now defines the continent’s potential. In a span of ten years, more than one third of the African population has gained access to the mobile network. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) says that the mobile phone industry in Africa is growing at twice the global rate and remains the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world.

This growth is also reflected in the spread of Internet connections that have increased by 1,031.2 % between 2000 and 2008. (UN World Investment Report, The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Internet World Stats – June 2008). Internet connectivity is growing faster than anywhere else in the world and significant investments in fiber optic cables and satellite technologies promise to accelerate the process.

The breakneck pace of development recognizes important changes taking place on the ground. This unprecedented economic growth is parallel to the Economist Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at New York’s Columbia University says, “I actually think that we’ve turned the corner on the digital divide… a gap that seemed to be widening pretty relentlessly is now going to be narrowed in the coming years and I think quickly. (AllAfrica.com – October 2008) As ICT makes headway in the continent it is important to understand the changes it brings.

Why a Social Approach?

Most research is focused on technology, its growth and expansion. Given Africa remains relatively unconnected, most analysis looks at the technical issues needed to increase access. Very little attention is given to what happens when people finally do make use of ICTs. This is where we propose to focus our research. Not on how users will become part of the system, but what happens when they are apart of it.

The Research Project

Four Master students from the University of Amsterdam, Wouter Dijkstra, Ben White, Ali Balunywa and Guido van Diepen, propose to visit one African country for two months of field research. The aim of the project is to understand how local African communities engage ICT. Each researcher has an individual approach and research question and will write a personal Masters Thesis based on the two months of field research. Geert Lovink (often referred to in international publications as a ‘New Media Guru’) is the project advisor.

The aim of the research is to better understand the significance of ICT from the end user perspective. In this way the group chooses to focus on the “man on the street” as opposed to an organizational or governmental approach. This is out of the interest to understand how ICT has already found a presence at a local level and irrespective of organizations or governments involved.

Given this focus, the aim is to classify four distinct groups of users and to study them individually using ethnographic research techniques. The aim is to sketch different profiles of end-users based on various research methods. In this way the project aim is to capitalize on the backgrounds and interests of the group participants while at the same time working to develop a research model and approach that might be replicated (by other research groups) in the future.

Individual research questions and specific research methods are described in the individual chapters of the proposal. We strongly believe that this project will add value to the current discourse and seek your partnership and cooperation.

In the meantime, we remain available to answer any questions.

Kind Regards,
ICT 4 Uganda