Wednesday, May 30, 2007

eLearning Africa 2007, May 28th - 30th

With more than 1200 registered participants from over 82 different countries spanning 5 continents (with over 70% from Africa), 40 exhibitors and sponsors, 12 countries and 308 speakers and chairpersons from 55 countries, eLearning Africa 2007 has established itself as the conference on ICT for Development, Training and Education with the largest international audience worldwide, providing insight into what is going on in the ICT supported education and training sector in Africa.

The 2nd consecutive annual event which took place from May 28 - 30, 2007 at Safari Park hotel Nairobi – Kenya, offered an extensive programme, with 308 speakers from 55 countries taking part in plenary, presentation and demonstration sessions, as well as panel discussions within 57 themed sessions and 17 pre-conference workshops and seminars.

The main focus of the conference was on ICT for development, training and education, which is a core component of the development plans of most African governments. ICTs are being integrated into many national educational systems in order to reach the Millennium Goal of "Education for All".

Education was given a special emphasis in the programme, which included a wide range of topics, such as eLearning in medical education and the fight against HIV and AIDS, mobile learning, open source and open content, as well as eLearning in schools, higher education institutions and in the public sector.

The speakers include representatives from major development organizations such as UNESCO, UNEVOC, the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) and the World Bank, as well as national and governmental institutions, mainly from Africa but also from Europe, Asia and North America.

eLearning Africa is an annual conference organized by ICWE GmbH and Hoffmann & Reif.


john, using the "One laptop per child", OLPC computer inside the conference exhibition hall. I wonder why they do not call it "one laptop per person" and go ahead and manufacture several for everyone in Africa. This would quickly bridge the digital divide, or what do you think?!

Lacking

- Having most of the big IT firms attending and exhibiting at the conference, we could still not broadcast the 3-day workshop on the Internet! We had all the big bandwidth satellite dishes on display but none could even broadcast event programs, videos, etc either on a LAN, Internet or TV!

- With all the networking, new friendships, ideas generated at the conference, no platform is in place to continue the sharing or discussions unless on a private initiative. A mailing list, discussion board, forum, blog etc could have been setup yet web 2.0 was a major topic as well on this international conference!

terrible travel to e-learning africa International conference, 27th May 2007

Moving long distances in and around east africa has always excited me, but having done it for quite a long while, the interest & enthusiasm is fast fading away. Being in correspondence with the organizers of the 2nd International conference on e-learning hosted in Nairobi, a bus trip to Nairobi was another journey to look forward to at the end this May.

Early sunday morning 27th May, 0600hrs, the journey to the Akamba bus stand was in top gear and promptly at, 0700hrs, the bus was rolling through Kampala streets. With good speed, we went through the car jam on jinja street and the terrible bumps along the way towards eastern Uganda. Just before Bugiri town, the bumps are just too worse to ignore, making it worse was the driver, who was driving as if he was competing in a grand prix!
Getting to Busia border at about 1100hrs, we cleared out just fine and we were soon back on our way to Kisumu, the next big town, inside Kenya. All through the journey, am taking time to kick out the boredom, reading a local paper, The Monitor, and enjoying once again both the sugar & tea plantations that dominate this particular route. Getting to Kisumu was pretty fine, enjoyed nyama choma, rested, until we got back on the road after about 30 minutes.

The rosy parts of the journey come to a gloomy end when the bus starts to move without moving!! ;) The bus comes to a complete halt in the middle of nowhere several kilometres and hours from the next big town, Nakuru. The driver comes out with a sheepish smile mentioning that the fuel has just got finished out of the fuel tank.. A round of questions on when we shall next be on the road, where are we? Why was this worked on before? Refunds? I loved their response to anything like refunds; services once sold are not returnable! A fellow passenger so frustrated, devoted time to decode AKAMBA; All Kenyans Anticipate More Breakdown Anguish!!

Regardless of the persistent re-assurances from the both the driver and his co-driver, some frequently travelers on this bus knew the right thing to do already; find alternative transport!
After about over 2 hours of patiently waiting for the bus problems to get solved, which were never solved anyway, a big number of the remain passengers too, found alternative transport.
Time check; 1830, getting a matatu (taxi) to Nakuru town is no easy task as most of the ones passing-by are all full to capacity. One later came by and carried 8 of us to Nakuru amidst strong rains and storm. It finally came to my notice that Kenyans, probably, drive much faster than the Ugandans do, do not ask me about their road accident rates!

Getting to Nakuru at about 2130, we found the mololine couches still fishing for passengers to Nairobi, on board we got as well. From the stage, the driver took us to the police station, where we thoroughly checked for explosives, firearms, stuff that could hurt others. We got to Nairobi about 3 hours later, well past midnight. I could not get picked up then and the most familiar place where the matatu driver could drop us was the akamba bus stage. Looking around for budget lodges nearby, we all got to rest our super tired bodies to atleast have sanity the next morning. Worse still, at this hour of the night, none of us could find something edible!

Lessons learn't: travel with a reliable bus service and always carry drinking water, something edible with you when you travel long distances.

;)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Dont hang on...

Ever been in a tight spot? Pretty sure everybody has, at least, whatever each of us considers to be a tight spot!

Another question; ever been pretty happy at work and your environment but what you are doing does not earn you enough to care for your bills (housing, party, parents, etc)? Maybe not everybody has experienced that but I have.

And what do you do in such a situation? Well, you would probably, inform your boss that you are broke and he should fill your pocket with some coins. What if he doesnt? Well, you leave him the way he is and get on to find another job that can satisfy you. That quite sums up everything that has happened to me at my workplace this year.

Am happy to have setup the networks that i have, trained communities, learnt different local languages, partied and mixed with as many community people and organisations as i possibly could. But all in all, it never takes away the ever nagging feeling that you dont have enough money to pay your bills, at least, not by yourself - you depend on someone else on doing it for you - like you are hand-capped! God made us strangely, each of us loves the nice feeling of doing a job and at the end of the day getting paid for it, at least, the agreed amount. It becomes complicated when you have to tell somebody every now and then about what you want to do, as though, you not old enough to make personal decisions!

This kind of behaviour makes you think of another job with hope that it will come with financial independence with no questions on how you want to spend what you earn but only as long as you get the boss' work done! I should say this is a had decision to make, considering, you are leaving behind something that you have seen grow from almost nothing to an east african model, being so attached to colleagues & the local people, the network already set up with other community organizations allover east africa etc. But be as it may, when you finally throw in the towel, you realize that you got some independence and freedom - from everyday tasks - and your mind begins to work a little more too; especially, on where you have to earn your next crust of bread!

Well, spending time learning more about community development in Tanzania, has made me relate more with the rural poor enough preparation to rhythm well with my own career. Am out to set up as many community networks as i can; its always handy to know how to handle and network with the rural folk. The approach towards a rural person should be different from the way you would handle one from an urban area. In the urban area, we take so many things for granted, sometimes, we think they are obvious to everyone around us! At least, i have the skills necessary in handling such a situation.

enough of my thoughts...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Meditating...

Now, I know i have been out of action for quite a while now and trust me, this is unlike me at all. I have been taking time to "chew" on whatever I have been doing the past months. Its also been a nice time to take a break from it all with friends here and there.

But well, its been so productive and life changing... Yaah, am now considering on spending more time setting up wireless networks in Uganda. Well, after receiving a some stats from a friend regarding access to ICTs in the whole world, I asked myself on whether the stats were right, on which i decided to try moving around in Uganda and find out for myself. Uganda, is among the last country in east africa with least access to ICTs, see for yourself here.

From the stats, Uganda, is far behind both Kenya and Tanzania. And on moving around to other districts away from Kampala, am forced to wholly agree that its absolutely true. There is barely any ICT infrastructure to talk about in these areas.

From the above perspective, am deciding to devote my time more on creating ICT awareness wherever I may in Uganda. Right now, am having positive progress in one of the districts in Uganda, Kasese. Last week, I was invited to the district meetings where, i was given the opportunity to talk to the district officials on the benefits of networking, especially, having their individual district offices share information on whatever projects they could be working on instead of having to physically move with flash sticks from one office to another!

Well, i will keep you posted on this. It feels nice to be back to active blogging...

Till next time.

ciao!

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