Tag Archives: Kampala

The West is the Best

Ugandan youth is divers, but they share one interest: the desire to go to the West. When I did my research on Internet usage in Internet cafés in Kampala I noticed that one of the main activities is seeking and creating opportunities to go to the West. Applying for scholarships, looking for sponsors and collecting pen pals are integrated into the daily activities of the online youth. Local websites show ads of scholarships or greencard applications and there are posters spread throughout the streets saying: ‘looking for pen pal or American sponsor? Call this number!’

Fact is that much of these ads are made by so called conmen. The youngsters, desperate to live their dream in the US or Europe, are so eager that they are willing to spend all their money on such ‘chances’. 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

Inside an Ugandan Internet cafe

John, the Internet cafe manager, explains me that the VSAT connection is not stable; one moment it is quick, the other moment it is very slow. They usually have a cache system which regulates certain traffic by blocking downloads that are bigger than for example 50 mb. The cache box had a problem, so the speed depends now on the amount of people and their activities. Sometimes he goes around the café to see who is doing large downloads and to tell them that it is not allowed.
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He explains that their speed is also related to Europe. When Europe wakes up and start going online they immediately experience this in a decrease of speed. 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