Tag Archives: Technology

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

Burglars break into Makerere ICT faculty

Makerere University Computing and ICT Faculty

Makerere University Computing and ICT Faculty

Today we had some unfortunate news. The reality is that technology has greater value when in short supply. I can tell you how hard the Makerere team has worked to put good infrastructure into place. The drawback is that they are now sitting on the best equipment in the country. Security remains an issue and is something that has also been mentioned by individuals in the private sector. Great hardware and solid internet connections remain a sought out resource.

Tuesday, 14th April, 2009
By Steven Candia and Fortunate Ahimbisibwe, New Vision

UNIDENTIFIED thugs have broken into the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology at Makerere University and vandalised over 230 computers, before making off with memory chips and processors.

A total of 101 memory chips and 140 processors were on Easter Sunday stolen from the laboratory on the fourth and fifth floors of the building, the Police said yesterday.

Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba yesterday said the faculty had incurred a loss of about sh96.4m. She added that they were holding seven suspects in connection with the incident.

Nabakooba identified the suspects as James Omachan, B Mwesigye, John Bosco Tumusime and Amos Kagaba, all laboratory technicians. Others are Mathias Ruhuma, a custodian, Charles Komakech, a university guard and Bashir Turyahebwa, a private security guard attached to Ultimate Security.

The suspects, Nabakooba said, were being held at the Wandegeya Police Station on charges of office break-in. The vandalised laboratory is the biggest information communication technology (ICT) facility at the university.

The faculty dean, Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba, yesterday said the matter was being jointly investigated by the Police and the university security department. “It seems the thieves had ready market for the software,” he said. The stolen property was worth about sh20m, Baryamureeba said.

He explained that they were still assessing the extent of the damage, adding that the staff members implicated in the theft would be forwarded to the university disciplinary committee.

Visit AppAfrica

Appfrica.org facilitates, mentors and incubates entrepreneurs in software in East Africa and Uganda.

Appfrica.org facilitates, mentors and incubates entrepreneurs in software in East Africa and Uganda.

This past week I had the opportunity to visit with Jonathan from AppAfrica. I have followed his blog from day one and it was great to actually be in the office and to see the beginnings of an innovative tech incubator. In the coming weeks I will be spending considerable time with Jonathan and his team and look forward to mapping out both the opportunities and challenges present here in the country.

Appfrica.org facilitates, mentors and incubates entrepreneurs in software in East Africa and Uganda. We offer 24 hour facilities with a solid internet connection, servers, software and computers that will students and entrepreneurs a safe place to develop their ideas in a constructive environment alongside industry professionals outside of school. Student projects are refined and prepped to help them secure funding from venture capitalists, investors and financiers from the private sector. This project is better known as Appfrica Labs.

Ben

Visit Makerere University Faculty of Computing and Information Technology

Makerere University Faculty of Computing and Information Technology

Makerere University Faculty of Computing and Information Technology

If your want CIT to be the best computing faculty in the world, change your thinking, if you want to be the best academic in the world change your thinking, if you want to be wealthy change your thinking. Stop thinking negative, defeated and having limiting thoughts. God can open doors for you if you persevere…From a letter written by Dean Prof. Baryamureeba Venansius

I had the chance to make two visits to the Makerere University Faculty of Computing and Information Technology. I was given a tour of their new building and I am absolutely blown away by what they have achieved and the plans they have for the very near future. There is nothing like walking into a room and seeing several hundred students hacking away on their laptops, exploring the internet, creating content and sharing thoughts and ideas. This open space is on the ground floor and realizes its exact purpose of sharing and creating. On the upper floors they have lectures halls, computer centers and dedicated laboratories ( including dedicated space for content creation, mapping and mobile programming). The building also plays host to the largest computer lab on the continent (800+ machines with many many more to come) and a budding call center that will produce thousands of call center professionals per year.

What happens when you combine hundreds of students with computers, Internet and dedicated IT professionals and educators? You get innovation! I had a chance to learn about some of the projects that have emerged from this school and can tell you that this is only the beginning. It’s hard not to get excited when you hear about students who have developed a mobile to mobile chat application, a mobile platform that facilitates elections electronically or a crisis response service. In the coming weeks I will be spending a lot of time in the halls of the Makerere digging deeper and getting to know more about the students, their projects and ambitions. These projects are part of the University’s tech incubator and I will write more about this in a later post.

The faculty has already attracting attention from IT companies around the world. Partnerships have been established with the likes of HP, Microsoft and IBM. Needless to say, these organizations see a long term potential in the development of local talent and are an important role in developing Kampala as a leading tech center. The government of Mauritius has also agreed to take 300 students a year in the effort to bolster their own ICT efforts!

Quick Facts about CIT

-Established by the University Council on December 15, 2004 by upgrading the Institute of Computer Science (founded in 1985) into a Faculty of Computing & IT.

-Has 4 academic departments: Computer Science; Information Technology; Information Systems; and Networks.

-Has several service departments that focus on the following: ICT services; Software Development and Innovations; Finance; Registration & day today concerns of students; Research; Human Resource; Examinations and Academic Programmes; International/Corporate/Public Relations; and Quality Assurance.

-Has a student population of 5000 – excluding those on different short courses.

-Has 250 academic staff and receives on average 30 International visiting staff every year.

-Has over 50 Local and International collaborations with Universities, Corporations, Private and Public Sector actors.

-Has participated in and won several international awards.

-Provides first class consultancy services, through its consultancy arm ‘ICT Consults Ltd’

-Has 5 undergraduate programmes (with one more programme under discussion at the University Senate level.)

-Offers 13 graduate programmes.

-Offers 10 regular short courses in ICT and other related areas.

-Runs a mid-night programme to cater for people who are time and financially-constrained.

-Hosts an annual International Conference on Computing and ICT Research (ICCIR).

-Hosts the International Journal of Computing and ICT Research (IJCIR), ISSN 1818-1139[Print] ISSN 1996-1065 [Online]

-Has $20 million worth of Investments in Infrastructure and other facilities

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!

How many file cabinets do we need to replace?

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The ‘Last Mile’; A crucial step to connect

After SEACOM touches the shores of east Africa, this part of the world will finally be connected to the broadband network. However, the SEACOM cable is  just the backbone of the connectivity. The Last Mile is the final leg of delivering connectivity from a communications provider to a customer. The actual distance of this leg may be considerably more than a mile, especially in rural areas in Africa.  

The hunger for information and communication technologies can only be stilled by these last mile services which prove to include considerable challenges. Laying cables trough the vast space of the African continent would take forever, fortunately wireless technologies are meeting the african demand. WiMAX is brought up as the solution and investments are well underway. 

But there is a new kid in the town of wireless connectivity. This kid might delay the process of widespread broadband connection in Africa. A big battle appears to be between WiMAX and a technology that doesn’t yet exist, LTE.  This new technology is making investors weary of investing in WiMAX because they believe it is already outdated. The WiMAX industry has been bragging about its time-to-market advantage over LTE. Mobile WiMAX networks are rolling out this year. LTE networks aren’t expected to become commercial until 2010 or 2011.

It will be interesting to see when the new technology will be introduced and how it will affect the leapfrog Africa is about to make.

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.

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