We’re moving!

For a while now I’ve been working on a self-hosted blog and I believe its got to a point where I can announce it.

Mtoto wa jirani is now moving to http://www.mtotowajirani.com. This blog will be launched on my 21st birthday, January 30th 2010. The focus of the blog will be thoughts and ideas that come out of the experiences I’ve gone through and currently go through. My aim with this blog is to inspire a generation of new movers and shakers who are passionate about what they do and some day hope to change the world with their thoughts.

Thanks for keeping u with me here!

=D

Africa Gathering Nairobi

So if you’ve seen me lately, this is what I’ve been jittery and excited about!

Africa Gathering is a conference about sharing ideas for positive change in Africa.

In their own word’s on their blog…

“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.”

Yesterday’s event was super. It encompassed a good blend of ideas, talented people and low-tech social networking. You can find the live blog account here.

Looking forward to today. I’ll be speaking about Mobile Cloud Computing alongside other exciting guys like Mark Kaigwa of GotIssuez and Victor Ngeny of FrontlineSMS.

You can find the full list of speakers for the day here.

If you can make it, the event is at the British Council in Upper Hill Nairobi. Tickets cost 750/- (and in my opinion it is worth every single penny). Event begins at 9 am and speakers start speaking at 10 am.

See you here!

=D

African Development is…

I’m just thinking…

Last week I visited a childrens’ home in Kapsabet town. It was evening so it was expected to see a couple of the kids playing soccer. Normally I wouldn’t really pay attention to this but something I’ve seen happen before happened again but this time I thought about it differently.

These kids were playing with an old soccer ball…a couple of more bounces and that was the end of its life! It was probably a donation from someone.

One of the kids accidentally hit the ball towards the barbed wire fence and as you’ve probably guessed, the ball got punctured. Any one of those kids would have been easily sunk in depressed by the abrupt interruption of their fun. Not so.

One of the kids shouted something in vernacular language and as soon as he was done all the kids ran about in search of something. It was pretty clear to me what they were up to: a few sisal ropes here, a couple of polythene bags there and voila!

…a home made soccer ball!

What struck me about this incident is that we as African’s are unique! We do not think like the world! Our situations are very different from the rest of the worlds’. So then, why should we do as the rest of the world does?

African development is not necessarily infrastructural or social development; our development is in the way we think…DEVELOPMENT THROUGH INNOVATION! We know our situations better than anyone else out there. We know what we need for our continent to grow. Why not think about this then and develop innovative ideas to solve our problems and to develop our continent?

The young boys at the childrens’ home faced many challenges, but they didn’t let their challenges force them into depression. They used their best asset, their minds, to develop an innovative solution to their problems…and in the process probably learned a whole lot more about team work and collaboration.

Perhaps now we should turn our focus towards progressive innovation*?

*progressive innovation scheduled for a future post

Story of an African girls’ future as a pilot

Sometime back I wrote a post about BITSA and how we do ICT Literacy Drives in high schools around our university.

At Kapsabet Girls, I asked a young lady what she wanted to be wqhen she grows up. She replied:

“A pilot! Its always been my dream to walk the skies…”

She went on and on about how she’s admired the protocols and gadgets and the endless skies…all of which she had only seen on television and magazines.

I recently visited Moi International Airport in Mombasa. I was privileged to visit the control tower and the approach.  The activities at each of these departments reminded me of the little girl from Kapsabet Girls and it got me wondering: does she know how to be a pilot?

This question has bothered me for a couple of weeks now. I perceived it as a question the girl would ask:

“Excuse me, do you know how I can become a pilot?”

Each one of  us has a responsibility to ensure that the people around us have access to information and knowledge. Each one of our parents struggled to get us through school so that with the little we picked up we would make something sensible out of our lives. Our education, our access to knowledge has enabled most of us to get to where we are now…if not, we are able to plan for the future of our lives.

Give someone the same chance. Give someone access to information and knowledge. My dad always says:

“People will steal your phone, your blankets and your money…but they will never ever separate you and the knowledge you have gained”.

…I’m off to find that girl. Her future as a pilot depends on it…

The mindset of an IT Guy

Here’s the beauty of being in a university Information Technology department in this day and age: arguements! Quite disappointingly though is that the basis on which these arguements are made. Rather than sound factual principles, most people would rather argue on the basis of personal bias!

Its human to be biased (thanks in part to our emotions). However its also human to be realistic! An Information Technology personnel cannot afford to be biased to any  form of technology. Such a person should have the mindset that each piece of technology has its strengths and weaknesses and thus should exploit every opportunity each has to offer. As far as possible, these technologies should be integrated together to reap their maximum benefits.

I’ll give an example. We all have a liking for certain browsers. It could be Firefox, Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and the likes. A close study of these browsers reveals that each one of them has some sort of strength, benefit or advantage over the other. For example, Opera supports torrents, Chrome is crazy fast, Firefox and Internet Explorer have great support for addons. (Same case applies to things like development platforms, web search engines and social networks.)

What I’m trying to say is that every piece of technology (and its variants) should be studied in depth and their SWOT analysis be determined. The knowledge gained from this should be used to integrate these technologies together with the aim of creating a more efficient way of doing things.

**In my thinking a case that has succeeded with what I propose here is WAMP**

My idea of Kenya’s (and Africa’s) future in Technology

If there’s one steadily growing industry in Kenya, its the Information Technology Industry. Any one Kenyan can say such without a single doubt. The evidence is all around. Think of all the web service companies, internet service providers, communication companies and more recently, the launch of the SEACOM fibre optic cable and the soon to come TEAMS and EASSY Cables.

With all these gains, its natural (and typically Kenyan) to think about tapping into this vast world and gaining from it. There are many ways you can do this. One such way is by using technology for development. Africa lags behind in development in so many ways but perhaps the most fascinating thing is that technology never does!

So, the question we then pose is this: how can we use technology to develop our continents nations? My answer? Cloud Computing.

It may sound strange at first, but let me break it down into chewable bits for you. Africa, and more specifically Kenya, has a very large market for mobile phones. You may even say that communication is a culture in our continent! Cloud computing, a fairly recent concept, involves doing everything you could possibly do on a normal PC to the cloud i.e the internet.

A combination of both results into a system where common services which were once costly can now be offered at a much reduced proce and at the same time spur growth and development. Let me illustrate: instead of small and medium sized companies investing in expensive internet infrastructure, they can pay for what they use in the cloud i.e processing power and even storage.

For this dream to be realized, we need to address certain challenges such as internet policy and even infrastructure. Such should be done considering the potential of  growth and development that this model of computing offers.

I’m just saying! =)