Well, this will probably be my last update from Battery Operated Systems in Community Outreach (BOSCO) Uganda in northern Uganda. Over the next week, I will be shifting to Syria for new learning experiences in a region I have never visited. As a closing thought on my work with BOSCO, I wanted to briefly reflect on the organization's future.
This week, I took brief leave from the office to visit two of Battery Operated Systems for Community Outreach (BOSCO)'s Internet sites. The first one I visited was the Pagak Peace and Information Center. Located on the Pagak Primary 7 campus, this is one of BOSCO's most successful Internet sites.
A few months ago, I was at a dinner at Erik Hersman’s (also behind Ushahidi). His team has started a new project called iHub, basically a technology (web and mobile) incubator in a great new office building in Nairobi. Fledgling programers submit an application for membership and, if accepted, are given free & fast wireless internet and a great place to work with like-minded people.
I have spent the past few days doing research on traditional telecenter sustainability. By traditional, I mean telecenters that charge a small fee for offline (photocopying, mobile charging etc.) and online services (Internet access) to meet their costs. While the news is rather bleak, I have stumbled across some interesting sources that might be of use to others:
There was a flurry of debate after TMS Ruge's speech at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, which included fair criticism of the popular One Laptop Per Child initiative. Key to this debate was an issue that I am finding equally as relevant in my new job: technological innovations are not enough in information and communication technology for development (ICT4D).
I start a new job next week, so more riveting (I hope) field experiences to come. For now, I wanted to introduce a few projects, most “new” in the field, that have caught my eye.
My first reaction to AMREF's, Why We Need A Fourth Year in Katine, was "of course you need a fourth year in Katine!" Development doesn't happen in four years, let alone five or ten. Aid dollars spent over a short period of time with little follow-up support are often wasted.
Development organizations, combined with the efforts of aid organizations in the first few years, should consider longer contracts. Tax payers need to understand the need for this (cue: journalists).
Stuck in Nairobi traffic on my way to the airport, I had the chance to think further about Project Diaspora’s post on the recent anti-LGBT laws in Uganda (without enabling my knee-jerk must-write now reaction).
Welcome to a series of posts on international development, social entrepreneurship and information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) with a focus on Africa.
There’s an exceptional amount of ingenuity within the development community. Each day, brilliant minds devise elegant solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges that are multiplied with limited resources and complex realities on the ground.
An example of this creativity can be found in the Questionbox, devised by the non-profit organization, Open Box, which brings global intelligence into a small solar powered audio box that works to empower residents with knowledge even if the area lacks reliable access to electricity or if the user is illiterate.
Residents use the device by pushing a green button and asking their question through a solar powered microphone, the question is transmitted to an operator who searches for the information on the internet and then relays it back to the client.