Tag Archives: ICT

No to nostalgia

RainWe finished the film, even with 4+ days without power; our main actor walking off set mid-scene; and people never turning up when they said they would. We screened it on my laptop in a dark classroom on my last evening in Kazo, to about 20 people, and it was kind of special to feel proud of something that I had not done: the guys had done virtually all the actual shooting, acting, editing.

But there’d been too little time (or energy, or electricity) to do all that I could/should have done. I could have done a camera class with the teachers and P2 class, could have helped Eliab with his CV, could have helped Godfrey with his dance website and Joseph with his exam prep, could have helped Shakul and Baker create flickr accounts, could have given Poul more time on my computer to play with Photoshop, could have done more editing with Daniel, could have taught Juliette how to use Excel and Word, could have made that brochure for Ronald, could have done more photo sessions with everyone, especially the latecomers, could have pushed further on the AIDS issue that was always sort of there but never properly discussed. I could have done more for so many good-hearted, courageous people. Maybe I need to come back.

Before the nostalgia sets in, I’d better remember the worst bits. Continue reading

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The creative spaces

Not just there for the free wifi

I’d had the same idea, but someone else got to it first – writing about Dar es Salaam’s emerging tech/innovation sector.

“With Kenya’s ‘Silicon Savannah’ booming to the north, and money being ploughed into Rwanda’s ICT dreamland to the west, Tanzania seems to have been left in the dust”, writes the journalist.  That’s starting to change though, thanks to Dar’s two new tech/innovation hubs. I’ve been to one of them a few times: TANZICT hosts unusual, and actually quite useful networking/learning meet-ups, in a free, open public space with wireless internet and electricity – not to be sniffed at in this city. Their ‘Girls’ Night Out’ series of events – women-only sessions for learning, practising or sharing new tools and technologies – are a brilliant idea.

Dar is still a long way off Nairobi though.  “If there is one truthful stereotype of Tanzania, it is that the country can be painstakingly slow”, continues the article. Continue reading

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Trepidation / Inspiration

Putting things positively

Bad experiences accumulate: another friend gets violently robbed. It’s hard to resist the negative feeling that causes, especially when they talk about giving up and going home.

But the good Tanzania is also a bit contagious – the little sparks of inspiration here and there that remind me I’m not done here yet, only just beginning to get to the good stuff.

There’s actually no shortage of media setting out to change the negative images we have, to tell more good stories out of Africa. By now they too seem to be becoming a bit clichéd.

Even better is encountering the positive stuff directly.

In no particular order, then, some of the people I’ve met recently who aint put off by what can be an unforgiving climate to actually make things happen: Continue reading

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Emerging markets

Two per cent.

I had two meetings today with media people, and both of them quoted that figure – the proportion of Tanzanians with access to the internet. They were exaggerating, surely?

Apparently not: recent research found that indeed, a mere 2.5% of Tanzanians had access to the internet. I’m not sure how “access” is defined: ITU figures from 2011 say that about 11% are classed as “internet users” – those who’ve gone online in the past 12 months. Either way, it’s a fairly insignificant minority. What’s incredible is how those 2.5% with (I assume) regular access get online, as the graphic pinched from howwemadeitinafrica.com shows:

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When you can’t get through

Africa is moving fast with its communications infrastructure. Mobile services are cheap, too: you can top up your prepaid cellphone with just 2000 TSH (EUR 1) at a time and the network I use costs just 2 euro-cent per SMS or between 0.75 and 9 euro-cent per minute for a national call. But we’ve still got some way to go.

Receiving SMSs two days after they were sent (or not at all) can be a useful alibi sometimes – like when avoiding the persistent messages I get from a male colleague I probably shouldn’t have given my number to. But otherwise it adds to the generally-present sense in Africa that you never know for sure if something has worked or will work or if plans will actually materialise.

Continue reading

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