Tag Archives: Kenya

The plan cont’d…

29 Jun

Where was I? Ah yes, Back in Nairobi…

After a week in Kenya I will fly on to Addis Ababa for a week which will be a little more familiar for me after spending nine weeks there in 2010.

No more flights in Ethiopia. I will drive down to Kofele…

…on to Zeway

Then it’s back to base in Addis Ababa and on home.

Hopefully with my first documentary under my belt!

10 little days!..

All maps from lovely Google

Inequality?

20 Jun
My last blog post makes access to online and the availability of social media sound as if we’re all on an equal footing, we’re all involved in this big global discussion. But perhaps that’s not quite the case.
 
I was inspired by a tweet from Guardian Development today. They were also live tweeting from Africa Gathering in London today. They tweeted
 
“We must act to ensure digital access & literacy doesn’t become a new source of inequality @claremelamed#aglondon
 
Are mobile phones considered a luxury? Or a practical tool? Or can they be both? In the UK they are widely regarded as a tool I suppose. But this does not strip the iPhone of it’s allure.
 
Whilst I was in Ethiopia last year, I noticed that many people who owned a mobile phone, had more than one. My host mother had three. Why, was unbeknown to me. But she enjoyed having three mobile phones. Three more than some people that she knew I suspect. Is this inequality?
 
What about the huge regional disparities between the frequency of mobile connections?
 
Or do these inequalities just mean nothing in the grand scheme of things? The M-Ubuntu Project has brought mobile phones into the classroom in two South African schools.
 
Whilst in Kenya I hope to meet the thinkers behind M-Farm They have created a system which uses SMS to allow farmers to access accurate market prices whilst selling their crops. Mobile phones for good? ICT4D? I hope to find out.
 
I wonder whether mobile phones may be a complication and a solution to the problem of inequality. Or maybe this is just progress and development and continuity towards the future.
 

Africa Gathering

20 Jun

Image by Africa Gathering

As I plugged away with emails and enquiries for my forthcoming trip (less than three weeks now!) I whiled away my afternoon reading the ferevent stream of tweets coming from the Africa Gathering in London. #AgLondon for anyone who wants a refresh.

In their own words, Africa Gathering…

“provides a space to bring technophiles, thinkers, entrepreneurs, innovators and everybody else together to talk about positive change in sustainable development, technology, social networking, health, education, environment and good governance in Africa.”

Now I know that I only scraped the very surface of the gathering by reading the tweets. It sounds like a fascinating day, packed with important and insightful presentations which following online I wasn’t fortunate enough to see. But it felt rather apt to be part of the event via twitter. Scrolling down the stream of tweets from today’s gathering I found another place to bring ideas, thoughts, questions and information together.  

When I travel to Nairobi I will visit the iHub and I’ve been learning more about it today. Another centre, another space to share ideas enrich, engage and enable.

It’s strength in numbers I suppose.

The plan…

19 Jun

So. I have a plan.

Come July, I will be flying from Heathrow

to Jomo Kenyatta airport, Nairobi. 

(I Google Map-ped it and it would take me six days and twenty one hours to go by car. So it’s a good job I’m flying.)

From Nairobi I’ll be travelling to Kisumu…

and on to Mumias…

…and Kakamega.

Then it’s back to Nairobi and onward to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. (more on the next leg soon.)

All maps from lovely Google

Poverty Matters

4 May

The Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog is worth a look if you haven’t come across it already. Today, especially so. Read Mohamed Béavogui’s post for the 4th May 2011 here. 

I don’t think that Mr Béavogui’s argument is a new one. It’s certainly one I’ve come across before and really without it, I wouldn’t have a documentary in the pipeline. He says that African farmers have the potential to solve the ‘food crisis’ that we could face in the future. Further than this, that they hold the key to the further development of the continent, and that we must see them as entrepreneurs, as business men and women.

But, he adds, to ensure success, they need support and investment by their governments in things like access to technology, access by roads. Improved electricity and reliable water resources are vital too. Keep an eye on goings on at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town this week.

I was struck by the attention drawn to national supply chains and the changing demands emerging from African centres, instead of demand from foreign importers. Last week I read an interesting article courtesy of the African Research Institute. Written by a Kenyan smallholder, it detailed how he manages his farm and how he produces vegetables, largely soya beans for export rather than for local sale. With Europe putting pressure on consumers to buy local and avoid ‘food miles’, will smallholders start looking for business that little bit closer to home?

Then again, we’re talking big business. World food prices are at a record high, and strong horticultural exporters are reaping the benefits. Is it really realistic for producers to ignore the temptuous international marketplace?

Anyway, The Guardian Poverty Matters blog. Take a look.

Mobile phones for building the bigger picture.

1 May

Image: Denaldi Photography

Kibera in Nairobi is Africa’s biggest slum. It’s home to 60% of the whole population of Nairobi and takes up just 6% of city’s area. About one million people live in about 200 settlements here.

At least that’s what we think. Heaving, thriving Kibera was only recognised by the Kenyan government as an area of housing in 2003. The figures that we have are generally based on estimates by non-governmental organisations.

One thing we can be sure of is that many many people call Kibera home, and no matter how many Kenyan settlements there are in the slum, if they were to look at a map of the area in 2009, they’d find a blank space where their homes should be. Unrecognised. Unmapped.

Of course Kibera is not just made up of homes. There are roads, shops, cafes, hairdressers, bars and many other facilities. Where there are people there are also sports clubs, meetings being held and churches.

So out of this blank space came Map Kibera. A project which has resulted in an interactive map of the area, showing all available facilities. Here’s a snippet…

Image: Map Kibera

Initially it was created with simple GPS mapping methods as explained here  by William Underhill. Now though it has reached a new phase and is one dimension of an interactive community project, Voice of Kibera. This is where the phone come in.

Based around this wonderfully up-to-date map, Voice of Kibera is a citizen reporting project. Residents with news of a meeting or an incident can text or submit a report online and using information about the location. The incident is then verified and plotted on the map using the Ushahidi platform where anyone logging onto the website can see it. An incident can also be investigated further if needs be. This is a video of Samson Ochieng Ooko detailing a forced eviction on the 27th February 2011.

Witnessryan: Railway Communities Facing Eviction

It’s another example of people using mobile phones to go the extra mile, important for communities and interesting for humanitarians, anthropologists and statisticians.

This multi-dimensional project has filled what was an empty space. But is it an accurate picture? Can we rely on adequate, widespread mobile use in Kibera for creating a service which is useful for all?

Follow Voice of Kibera on Twitter

And get updates via the Map Kibera Blog

Africa online?

10 Apr

Image: Jon Gosier

Africa’s ccTLDs. (Country code top level domains) On the map they’re scaled to represent the number of millions of internet users in each country. 

Before Egypt’s so called ‘Day of Anger’ on the 25th January 2011, when in retaliation to widespread protests, the government shut down the internet, Egypt was number 1. According to internetworldstats.com there were just over 17 million internet users in Egypt in February 2010. (Read more about Egypt and it’s ‘moment of silence’  on Appfrica’s blog )

Other big players are Nigeria and Morocco, numbers 2 and 3 . Kenya and Uganda are also up there at numbers 7 and 9 respectively.

But what about the others, as the map shows there are many of them. In June 2010, Ethiopia had 450 thousand internet users. Only 0.5% of the country’s population. In comparison, 33.4% of Moroccan people were using the internet in December 2009. 

Of course, these figures are changing all the time, and with constantly increasing speed. But huge disparities remain and the reality is that even in countries with higher stats, many people are living without internet. – Difficult for us to grasp, glued to our monitors, blogging and tweeting away.

Connecting people is powerful. So in places that the internet can’t reach, projects like FrontlineSMS see mobile phones as having an important role to play.

Founder and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Ken Banks explains…

Video by NationalGeographic. Ken’s blogpost: Mobile as exploration Follow Ken on Twitter

For more on mobiles take a look at this proposal by blogger Erik Hersman on White African