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Tag Archives: Research
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
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
By: Wouter Dijkstra
I 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
I started working on my research proposal last year. By the beginning of this year, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And that is to research on the impact of ICT use on the print media journalist. I started establishing contact with the New Vision, the largest print media organization in Uganda. Continue reading
I think now is a good time to explain a little more about my research in Uganda and my ethnographic approach to this process. In short, ethnography of (ICTs) can look in detail at the ways in which the technology is experienced in use.
Christine Hine explains, “At the most basic level, (ICTs) are used as a way of transmitting bits of information from one computer (or mobile) to another. The architecture of (ICTs) provides ways for addressing the information that is sent, so that it can be split up into packets, sent out across the network and recombined by the recipient. All kinds of information are in theory equal: bits are transmitted in the same way whether they represent text, audio, images or video. The meaning of the bits comes from the patterns which they make, from the software which is used to interpret them, and of course from the users who send and receive them.”
Ethnography of (ICTs) can look in detail at the ways in which the technology is experienced in use.
For my research I plan to spend 2.5 months here in Kampala. Its not a great deal of time, but I do hope it gives me enough space to appreciate some of developments taking place here on the ground. I will use this time to deconstruct the relationships, activities and understandings of the different actors here in the country. I will also spend considerable time updating my blogs with small observations. As described by Christine Hine, ‘the aim is to make explicit the taken-for-granted and often tacit ways in which people make sense of their lives.’
Needless to say, it is important I get close enough to the culture here that I can really understand how it works. At the same time, I need to keep a certain distance if I am going to be able to objectively report on it. In this way, ethnography is used to develop an enriched sense of the meanings of the technology and the cultures that enable it and are enabled by it.
Thomas Molony, in his case study Trading Places in Tanzania, describes ethnographic research as extensive ‘Hanging Out.’ I like this description. Spend time with people and learn from them. To observe and document impressions as they emerge and to explore their meaning in depth. The ethnographic research approach stems from the social sciences. Otherwise the sociology of science, technology and media.
It is suggested that we can usefully think of technologies and media as having interpretive flexibility: ideas of their sensible user are developed in context. Local contexts of interpretation and use therefore form the ethnographic field. Christine Hine
My research approach will consist of direct, first-hand observation of daily behavior. The research will focus on the ‘end user’ experience and will make use of the following research methodologies.
• Conversation with different levels of formality – This can involve small talk and long interviews. Also seek out local government officials, managers of multinationals and other groups that can give addditional insight into the macro economic developments.
• Detailed work with key consultants about particular areas of community life – From previous UvA related research, its clear that experts and local consultants hold a wealth of knowledge as they deal with these issues professionally and on a day to day basis.
• In-depth interviewing – Conduct in-depth interviews with local actors and stakeholders who can give an overview and broader insight into the behavior of individual user groups i.e. the owner of a large internet cafe, the manager of a local radio station, the local governor and so on.
• Discovery of local beliefs and perceptions – Via extensive interviewing (chit-chat, short and long) uncover some of the local beliefs and perceptions. This is fundamental to better understanding different views and approaches to technology.
• Problem-oriented research – Recognize local problems specific to the location and how users work to overcome these hurdles. I.e. flooding, electricity outages, elections or other anomalies that are unique to the local environment.
• Team research – Compare the field research to see where there are commonalities and where there are differences.
• Case Studies – Projects or activities that fall into the research category. These examples can be used to support our observations.
Ben and Team
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.
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!
Learn more about my research!
ICT 4 Entrepreneurship
The ICT 4 Uganda Research group is ready for the trip to Uganda. We plan to be there April, May and June. If you have an interesting project we would certainly like to know about it !
We would invite the opportunity to meet fellow researchers and practitioners in the field. If you have an interesting project or initiative that would be relevant to one of our research trajectories feel free to contact us.
As a group we are interested in the following:
1) Scheduling a meeting and interview with you
2) Making a visit to your project to learn more about your activities
3) Introductions to people and projects that would fall under the scope of our research project
4) Any background information, reports or data that you feel would be useful or helpful to our project.
What can we do for you?
We are open to suggestions and to establishing partnerships in which we can work together. As a group we will be speaking to many individuals from across the ICT spectrum. We are pleased to share our contacts, network and any information that might be useful to you and your project.
Alternatively, feel free to send us your request or suggestions. We are happy to see how we can incorporate your needs into our project and in the effort to help you in any way possible.
In the meantime, we remain available to answer any questions or to share ideas.
Ben, Wouter, Ali, Guido and Kai
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.
Uganda (East Africa)
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
In order to do research on ICT in Uganda it is good to start with orientating on the initial facts and figures that describe the usage of ICT and the key points on what to focus. Therefore some valuable information sources have been inventorized to provide this information.
The Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) has developed a great deal of knowledge on this subject. The UNCST is a semi-autonomous government agency established in 1990 by the parliament to advise, develop and implement policies and strategies for integrating science, technology and research development in Uganda. Here you can find an extensive report on the status of ICT in Uganda in 2002, executed by the UNCST and implemented by the National Foundation for Research and Development (NFRD).
A case study conducted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 2001 on the status of ICT in Uganda you can find here. And here a powerpoint document presenting the information gathered by ITU.
In the Ministerial Policy Statement for the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology , for the financial year of 2008/2009, a great deal of information on the governmental policies, implementation plans, achievements and expenditure can be found. This document states the mandate, mission and vision of the Ugandan Ministry of ICT, it outlines achievements in physical and financial terms and reports challenges encountered in 2007/2008.
Here a document on the ICT policy in Uganda of 2003. It emphasizes the importance of a national ICT policy and gives insight in the status of ICT systems, the telecommunications infrastructure and focuses especially on emerging issues.
Here you can find information on extensive orientating research done by “Reflect” in 25 villages in Kabarole region of south west Uganda. Their results on key development priorities, existing communication practices and other extremely valuable information to keep in mind for conducting research on ICT for social change is presented here. And some more information on research they’ve done in Africa.
Here some interesting facts and figures of the Uganda Investment Authority on the state of the information and communications sector. And a briefing on the growth of the ICT sector from 2002 to 2007. Their website also provides a rich resource of valuable information and assistance in establishing businesses in Uganda.
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.
We had the opportunity to meet with Mirjam Blaak.
She was kind enough to share her extensive knowledge and experiences of Uganda.
It is clear that the rural areas of the country need the most attention and should play an important role in our research.
We look forward to being in touch with Mrs. Blaak and hope to see her again in Uganda.
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.