Tag Archives: development

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

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION 2.0

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION 2.0

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION 2.0

The 1% Club has put together a great EVENT and post event CELEBRATION for people interested in taking international cooperation to the next level. Please find more details on the event, pass it on to your friends and sign up!!! 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

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

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

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

Vodpod videos no longer available.

“There is no short-cut to development”

Last week Marcia Luyten wrote an criticle article on development in the Dutch newspaper NRC. She argues that the main problem of the failure of development in Uganda is in fact a mentality problem. On the one hand she boldly states there is lack of an inner will to progress within the people, e.g. men are ‘busy’ drinking beer and women don’t get up early enough to make their children a breakfast. On the other hand they are all part of a system that doesn’t allow for efficient development, e.g. profit that is made is not properly invested, and education in a corrupt society isn’t the requisite for a good job.

According to Luyten this is to a large degree due to the Dutch development policies. The huge amounts of money that the Netherlands are donating each year to assist in reaching the Millennium Development Goals, made possible for free education, free health care and an omission of local taxes. But the counter effects are serious. People are less motivated to earn money because crucial things are paid for. And, no taxes for the poor majority means difficulties questioning the spendings of government money. The advantage of paying tax is that the people in charge can be accounted for their spendings, and exactly this is the accountability that is necessity for a democracy.

The point here that Luyten makes is that we have a wrong idea of the complex workings of this other society. We are imposing our liberal democratic perspective on a society that isn’t an open society, but a closed society that derives its stability from a system of patronage. This doesn’t mean that it is a wrong system, but it is different, and this should be taken into account when Western modernization policies are being shaped. We should have more realistic expectations about what our ‘help’ could establish.

Luyten states that the real change should come from within, but that we also should not forget that most development countries are trapped in a system where they can’t get out of by themselves. Therefore we shouldn’t stop with development aid, but we should transform the development focus on quantity into a focus on quality. The principal of ‘do no harm’ is essential in this, not only in aid, but also in trade. African countries need to be able to export their products without having to open their borders for the mean machine of mass production from the West. Then, the development workers we send to bring about change have to be professionals, not students accomplishing their internship. This is simply because African societies aren’t simple; because of this complexity, we need a sharp focus on initiatives already going on that do work on the ground. Step two is to try these ‘change agents’ out elsewhere to see if it will work or not. Trial and error, step by step.

If we, the ICT4Uganda group, put our research in context of Luyten’s argument, we have to admit that for now we still belong to the students finishing their internship more than to the professionals. But a start is to be made somewhere. Our blog is not only accessible for students, but functions as a platform for professionals too. Effort in sharing knowledge over time without restrictions is our tool in getting a better insight in the complex society and the ways in which projects rise and fall.

Our bottom up approach is in the light of the argument a very useful manner in understanding the society as opposed to the top down perspectives of large NGO’s and Western governments. The anthropological fieldwork that we will conduct in spring and summer 2009 will encompass the experiences of the local people. The assistance of the Makerere University represents the will and input of local organizations accompanying us in the direction of the local needs.

Now the fact that we have a focus on ICT seems odd. We are missing a lot of steps one might argue. Fact is that these steps in between are not taken and new forms of media are implemented massively by telecom corporations, knowledge of the effects though are nihil. Citizen use of new media could be a strong tool in establishing an open and democratic society. Though we have to keep in mind that these tools can and will be used in ways we cannot imagine. This in mind we focus on specific groups in specific areas in effort to create small insights in complex issues.

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.

Lack of research widening digital divide, Uganda ICT minister says

By Edris Kisambira, IDG News Service\Kampala Bureau
21 Oct, 2008

A lack of ICT research and limited cooperation and information sharing among research groups is widening the digital divide between sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world, according to Uganda’s minister of ICT, Ham Mukasa Mulira.

Collaboration between Africans and the rest of the world is important with regard to the development of ICT in Africa, he said at the opening of the EuroAfriCa-ICT Awareness Workshop in Kampala on Monday.

The EuroAfriCa-ICT project presents an opportunity for the sub-Saharan region to explore new areas of collaboration, like joint research, ICT application development, mentorship and industrial attachment, Mulira noted.

“Europe has a lot of expertise in undertaking research of different kinds related to science and technology, which could be of great advantage to many young researchers in the region,” added Ugandan Prime Minister Appolo Nsibambi.

According to Nsibambi, Sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to reap benefit from e-health, e-education, e-commerce and business process outsourcing.

“In order for these to take root,” he said, “it is very important that research provides the foundation for the implementation of such projects.”

However, Mulira pointed out in his address that the biggest challenge confronting the sector, especially in eastern Africa, is the lack of access to international undersea cable systems.

“This has inevitably denied our people access to the cheap international bandwidth due to the sole dependence on satellite, which is expensive and limited in capacity,” Mulira said.
Ongoing regional undersea cable initiatives such as EASSy (Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System), TEAMS (The East African Marine System), SEACOM, and Uhurunet are expected to address the bandwidth constraint by end of 2009.

With proper infrastructure in place, Mulira noted, universal access will become feasible, allowing developing nations to leapfrog ahead.