Category Archives: ICT4D

‘De mensen willen vooruit, niet achteruit. Ook de moslims.’

,,In Syrië leven we in een strikte cultuur van opvolging. Dat is hetzelfde als leven in een gevangenis,’’ vertelt de acteur en filmmaker Rosh Abdelfatah uit Syrië. En hij kan het weten. Hij belandde in de gevangenis naar aanleiding van een toneelstuk over stateloze Koerden in Syrië. ,,Kritiek op het systeem wordt meteen afgestraft. Op school wordt dit er letterlijk ingeramd. Alle leerlingen op de basisschool krijgen klappen.’’ Op een groot scherm laat hij een filmpje zien van een jongetje van acht, dat met een stok geslagen wordt door zijn leraar. ,,Dit is Syrië!’’ roept hij.

Abdelfatah is een van de sprekers op de maandelijkse discussieavond Cineblend met het thema ‘Film, sociale media en de omwentelingen in het Midden-Oosten’. Het zaaltje in het Soeterijn Café te Amsterdam is afgeladen met een voornamelijk Nederlands publiek. Continue reading

Sending an email in Uganda

One can only understand the meaning of the connectivity divide through experiencing it. Nothing as annoying as just simply waiting for something in order to find out that you have been waiting for nothing. But last week I was lucky. I tried to send an email in a hot and steamy Internet cafe in Kampala. This was a new experience for me. After first having tried my hotmail-account, which simply didn’t work, I gave my student-mail a shot. Minutes went by, but again without success. I got frustrated. The heat didn’t help. As a last resort I tried gmail.. and after another 10 minutes of trying and crying my email finally got sent. That was my first and last email that day. Continue reading

University online

makerere-building
Colin, our contact person on the Makerere University of ICT, shows us enthusiastically around in the massive building. There are six floors, each filled with hundreds of modern pc’s. Most of them are not yet in use, because they are just installed, he explains. In two months all hardware will be ready to serve the new educational programs. There is an intranet connection under construction, so that multiple classes can learn from only one teacher. Continue reading

There is a snake in my computer!

snakesandcomputers

On friday april 17 I met with John, who had set up a few cybercafé’s and telecentres both in Uganda and Tanzania. He has a university degree in mechanical engineering, but as soon as he graduated he started focusing on computers. At this moment he forgot all about mechanics, but in the meanwhile he has developed serious computer skills.

There are some social scientists who argue that people with a practical occupation or handicraft have a huge advantage in computer skills. Fatima Mernissi for example points to a new generation of Internet users in rural parts of Morocco who have backgrounds as snake magiciens and carpet weavers. Continue reading

A glimpse on Internet usage in Kampala

My first intention was to shine a light on the dark informal sphere of illegal economic activities conducted on the Internet. Scams, fraud, fake marriages and so on. My first encounter with a Ugandan blog taught me that the scams were typical Nigerian, not African. People in Uganda were warning each other for this foreign Nigerian fake mails. There went my first prejudice. Continue reading

My first impressions on ICT in Kampala

On the plane from Cairo to Kampala I met a young Ugandan guy of 19 years old who just flew back from a tennis match in Egypt. He was a real cosmopolitan; he had traveled already all over the world for tennis matches, he studied as well in Uganda as in South Africa and he got a scholarship for next year to study in the USA. He told me laughing he might do some economic studies too, to help us in Europe with our crisis. He uses the laptop of his brother to surf on the Web for news and downloading music.
I asked him if could do an interview with him later on in Kampala and he gave me the phone number of his sister: ‘Ask for Duncan..’ He himself changed too often of simcard to be reachable.

Once in the country it is not only the humid air taking the attention of your senses. The country is filled with massive advertisement and billboards of telecom companies: ‘connect yourself’…

telecom-ad

Continue reading

Digital Divide: Citizen journalism in Africa

‘Bring the world to Africa and bring Africa to the world.’ (Gisel Hiscock, speaking at Surprising Africa)

Gisel Hiscock, one of speakers at the Surprising Africa conference, held a lecture about Google’s interest in giving information-access to the one billion Africans. The Africans need a way to share their information with the rest of the world: they need a voice. According to Hiscock the focus should be on developing technologies that answer local needs, empowering communities and in this way achieving the most. She finds Africa interesting because of it’s innovative character. Another speaker, Ethan Zuckerman, shares this interest: ‘A hammer isn’t a hammer in Africa. In the West a hammer is solely a tool to hit nails, in Africa they use it to do a lot more.’ Surely this is a necessity due to poverty, but nonetheless a capacity that has great potential in using new technologies. His presentation was far more interesting than the Google-presentation Hiscock came up with, since the latter seemed to be more interested in putting Google on a shiny pedestal instead of discussing relevant issues. Continue reading