What Traversing Africa by Road Can Teach us about Technology, Community, and Impact

Crossposted on the Ushahidi blog

TLDR: The scope of impact in Africa for work is great and an inspiration for the work ahead in 2015. Similar problems exist in various African countries and similar opportunities and the incredible chance to participate in a bolder stake on the future of the continent. Local communities have a key role in shaping strategy and can teach us a lot about what works where. With Ushahidi’s interlocking role of creating software tools for empowerment with its innovation catalyst role, the sandbox for its impact can be expanded.

Market TZ

This is a picture of a market in Tanzania. To the right of this picture is a parking lot with cabs and trucks and as I was waiting for my colleague Mark to register SIM cards, I could hear lectures by Julius Nyerere blaring from a Volkswagen van. In addition, the cab driver was listening parliament proceedings. Coming from Kenya where engagement with government is not as robust as this, it was quite encouraging. (Later found out that there was a major scandal and many were following because of that, but still, the level of citizen engagement in Tanzania is inspiring). The potential to add technology to this engagement equation was inescapable and something we’ll be keen to explore with partners currently working there. The big take away was that because of this variability in citizen engagement, the strategies for implementation and adoption of technology (including Ushahidi’s tools) will need to be adjusted to keep this in mind. What is needed is more connection with the key local organizations and learning how best to serve them.
bongohive

Bongohive

This is a picture of Co-founder of Bongohive Lukonga Lindunda speaking with entrepreneurs outside Bongohive space. Lukonga, his co-founders and team have been in touch with us at Ushahidi for several years now. It was an immense honor to meet them in their beautiful new space adorned with African art and filled with entrepreneurs,volunteers who I recognized from working together on Bantuwatch in 2011 (an implementation of Ushahidi to track the elections in Zambia) and women like Chisenga who’ve been part and parcel of growing Bongohive. This was the location of greatest connection and an important lesson that community is always important, and that with the expansiveness of the continent, it is important to keep connecting with the key drivers in each country who are building ecosystems of opportunity. Communities like iHub and Bongohive are important for building stable and equitable societies and key users of Ushahidi tools.

Route

It is a long game/long road… but when you meet a startup/social enterprise that is less than 2 years and already creating jobs, it just adds more reason to Ushahidi’s role as a catalyst, assisting and supporting (without supplanting) wherever possible. To foster environments that protect and reinforce fundamental human rights, it is going to take engagement on many levels, with various initiatives and partners. In building on the discussions with board of Ushahidi, partners who spent time with Ushahidi in Nairobi this last quarter, it is exciting to envision scaling our work, moreso with communities in Lusaka, Zambia, Johannessburg, South Africa, Harare Zimbabwe, and Maputo in Mozambique. We have the pieces in place with the software development group, the solutions team and Gearbox, iHub, Making All Voices Count partnership on the catalyst end. One of Ushahidi’s spin outs – BRCK continues to provide the hardware that will be useful to expand our work to the edge of the network. That is where even more impact can happen.

Looking forward to the new year with current and new partners engaged in creating more opportunity.

Learning from Lagos

Earlier this month I finally got a chance to go to Lagos, Nigeria. It left an indelible mark in my mind. Lagos is a gorgeous city, intoxicating and yes, a little gritty but all in all completely intriguing. Intriguing in its scale, its people, and its location. Free flow of thoughts below on what I learned and observed.

You can either experience the Lagos of possibility or of gridlock. It depends on your mental frame. One of the hosts told me that you can attract your own Lagos. You just need to bring an effortless and authentic personality.

You can either be an Afro-pessimist or an Afro-optimist. Either way, you’d better be hustling.  I see several newcomers in Kenya putting down entrepreneurs and regurgitating old stereotypes, even referring to friends in co-working spaces like iHub as ‘monkeys’. (Whole other story that I won’t even get into right now.)

Being in Lagos, I was quite encouraged and happy to see the forward momentum in service provision, infrastructure and even waste management.
I was part of a small group that was given a tour of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system complete with NFC technology for easy payment. The BRT system moves Lagosians quickly through the city in a very efficient manner. The fleet I saw was impressive, not in the shiny super new kind of way…more so in a functional, well maintained somewhat old fleet, yet orderly kind of way. The investment in infrastructure is continuing, with a new light rail system that is on course to be opened in 2016.
As you make your way around the city, there are people with orange coats emblazoned with LAWMA. This stands for Lagos Waste Management Authority, which is ensuring that the city is cleaned up and waste is processed. Clearly there is order from the chaos you thought Lagos was wrought and overrun with.

Lagosian

 

The infrastructure of the mind: This is a key idea that I encountered when Moji Rhodes gave an overview of the efforts by the state of Lagos to not only improve the lives of Lagosians, but to empower them. As is similar in most parts of Africa, there is no escaping the colonial baggage that saddles culture, inefficient legacy systems, land allocation problems…the list can go on and on. The infrastructure of the mind alludes to the cultural renaissance that I think needs to be fostered even more. It is as essential as economic growth in the betterment of African cities. Lagos is ahead in this regard.

What remained in my mind most of all is the immense potential to leverage technology in the service of citizens. EIE – Enough is Enough Nigeria, Sahara Reporters, CCHub, Wennovation, and so many other examples of initiatives that will be integral to helping Lagos youth to engage, have a say and to give back.
I am reminded of the seminal quote for 2012
The role of citizen does not end with a vote – President Barack Obama during his acceptance speech.
How can we set up end to end systems that help citizens beyond elections?
In the case of Lagos, there is potential of impacting almost 8 million people with information services. I am awe struck by the immense opportunity and hats of to the people already investing their time and energy to doing this.

The larger question that I think many cities are trying to answer is how can cities provide services in order to draw the creative, maker, entrepreneurial class? Small and medium sized businesses still power many economies. In Africa, it becomes even more important to invest in growing this segment of the economy. I saw many MTN Mobile money ads, this is likely to be a major growth area for Lagos.

I am curious about culture based design in African cities. From architecture of technology systems that can provide utility and help tackle the unique problem sets of Lagos and Nairobi. Perhaps just effective design in a global sense needs to be applied to the many problems of a complex, growing, vibrant city like Lagos. There is lots to learn, but more so, I think there is so much more to do to connect innovators globally to the important problem sets on the ground. The hard work is of course the end to end workflow of making sure we do not just think of the tech, but the Technium and the ecosystems of the future. The most famous example of a truly unique, effective and Lagosian ecosystem is ofcourse Nollywood.

Through music and fashion I saw glimpses of even more ecosystems being redefined right now in Lagos.

Pictures: Lagos on Africa Knows
Follow: Moji Rhodes, Teju Cole
Read: Omoluwabi 2.0 A Code of Transformation in 21st Century Nigeria by Adewale Ajadi
Monopoly Game: City of Lagos Edition
Jam to: Davido – Dami Duro
Chidinma: Kedike,
D’banj – Oliver Twist

The last few weeks in picture slideshows

I’ve kinda been traipsing about, by the time I upload pics, blog/tweet, its time to catch another flight.
Below are several slideshows from here, there and TED 2010

ORD Camp Chicago Jan 28th 2010

Berlin – Transmediale Festival
Feb 2nd – 7th

TED Feb 10th 2010

TED Feb 11th 2010

TED Feb 12th

TED Feb 13th – Last day with the Fellows…

PS: I took too many pics, and therein lies the problem, can’t really sort through all of them. Whenever possible, I took a pic of the speaker’s name then the images from the talk.

Excellent coverage of TED 2010 is available on the TED blog and on Maria Popova’s Brainpickings.

PS: For my flickr friends, its probably easier to browse my photos by sets or collections

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Nerds Need Art

Digital art.
At Ars Electronica in Linz, I was struck by the amazing pieces exhibited, and more so by the Ars Electronica center. It is set very near to a bridge on the Danube river.The Exhibitions archive page uses a schematic of the center to give you an idea of what is curated where.

Ars Electronnica Center Schematics (roughly)

The outdoor space atop the main gallery and before the future lab space seems to tie the old architecture of the church to the futuristic style of the Ars Center. Click on the image below for a larger size, the church is to the left of the future lab stairs.

Ars Electronica - ArsCloud

It is one of those buildings that people either love or hate…I loved it. At night, the LED lights that line the outer glass wall change color. Something like a nocturnal visual surprise every time you glance at it.

Ars Electronica - ArsCloud

The festival itself is something to experience. Since its now over, i would highly recommend visiting the Ars Electronica center to see some of the pieces that formed a benchmark of the festival. Besides, I am convinced that Linz would make a perfect location for any techy, futuristic or even a good action movie. Be it Minority Report 2 or next Bond 007, I can totally vouch for the stunning imagery it would evoke if someone like Daniel Craig would rappel down the Ars Center and straight into a boat on the Danube. (Spielberg, Soderberg, Wachowski brothers and whoever produces 007 – you are welcome :-))

Ahem, pardon my digression. Back to nerds needing art.

This has admittedly been a very busy year for me, and I have to admit that I did not expect it to be. With time, I’ve realized that being in the tech space can sometimes sap your sense of wonder. Or maybe its just me. If you are one of those people who feel mired in tech and sometimes feel like the ‘wow’ factor is gone when you see new innovations…and it elicits a bland ‘hmmm’ reaction and god forbid ‘meh’ – Well you need a healthy dose of art. Attending Ars Electronica helped me marvel again at what artists, architects, performance artists and idea mongers have to share. Below I will share afew of the pieces i particularly enjoyed, and provide some links to blogposts by the other wonderful speakers and friends from the Cloud Symposium.

Quartet.cc

Quartet is a Web-interactive robotic music installation. The machine you see in the live video feed is housed at an innovative museum in Linz, Austria, ARS Electronic. Seeing the machine live, inches away is an visceral experience that shows the real power of live music… and that robots can be a part of that experience. Visitors at the museum are able to enter melodies from a laptop in the museum for immediate interactivity

You play a short melody on the site Quartet.cc then you see the music interpreted onto the machine. Try it…

Since I have a thing for mobile phones (Nokia) I greatly enjoyed the robot controlled by bluetooth.
This is a picture of the phone.

Ars Electronica - ArsCloud

This is the little robot it controls. How fun!

Ars Electronica - ArsCloud

The Anoto pen

This is basically the livescribe pen on steroids. You can write and record audio which is digitized and transferable pdf docs or uploaded online. The steroids bit: The Anoto pen can be used to navigate a map, displaying relevant data on a big screen. For example, if you click on a specific point on the map of Linz, and would like to know the demographics of the region, you can tap on the legend provided on a page to give you stats on number of divorced people between the age of 21 and 45. This was preety cool because it combines maps, tactile input of using a pen and a digital display to add more data.

Ars Electronica - ArsCloud

I got to play the loopscape game with the renowned tech journalist Cyrus Farivar. I really could claim victory, but really…it was a draw.

“loopScape” is an innovative video game for two players that blurs the conventional distinction between good and evil, between “my side” and “the opposition.”

The action does not take place on a flat display but rather on a 360 degree band arrayed around the edge of a ceiling-suspended metal doughnut circumnavigated during play. The object is to shoot down the opponent. But be careful! If a fired missile misses its target, it continues on its trajectory and threatens to strike from behind the game figure that launched it.

This loopscape game is a form of interactive device art, and for some reason, it brought to mind the idea of participatory art. Something that Wambui, Sciculturist and I were discussing at RAMOMA gallery in Nairobi. Check out this ‘Watoto Wa Kwetu’ piece by Wambui. More pics are on this flickr set. I think the loopscape game has participatory qualities just like the Watoto wa kwetu paintings, because both pieces are best experienced with others. There are some observations that Wambui made on the Watoto wa kwetu paintings that I would not have noticed. Do note that the paintings are done by a group of children, and not one artist. So, there is that aspect too.

This is just but a sampling of what was in store at Linz. I havent even touched on the animations. I hope you enjoy the perspectives shared by the others on the Cloud Symposium blog, videos posted there and the following links too.

Kristen Taylor – Mosaics, food and the cloud If you are wondering about her cool dress, its vintage. I had to ask :-) I am not much of a beer drinker, so her suggestion to get some Secco (Austrian white sparkling wine) with our dinner was just invaluable.

David Sasaki – An outsider’s guide to Linz Indispensable. His talk about cloud intelligence provided the framework for discussion that day.

I keep digressing from this nerds need art theme, but hopefully i can tie it all together.

In the quest to not lose your sense of wonder, sometimes you need to look inward, be quiet and just think about the bigger picture. To find the creative place. If you’ve ever used the words ‘code is poetry’ ‘Math is elegant’ or ‘no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should’. There is this need to look inward, to find that inner muse and embrace the imagination. I think whenever you need to go to such a place, art can provide that gateway.

The Thinking Chair by Arthur Ganson

Where does inanimate material end and where does life begin? Arthur Ganson lets his “Thinking Chair” straddle the boundary between those two states. Through its movements—which resemble the gait of a human being walking on two legs—the chair exhibits animate traits. Arthur Ganson had the idea that led to this work while taking a walk. Near his studio, there is a small rock outcropping on a trail, which he likes to walk around in slow circles, deep in thought. During this walking meditation, each cycle finds him back in the same physical place but in a slightly different emotional place

Milking The Rhino – Screenings in Africa

Happy New year!

Late last year, I wrote about the film Milking The Rhino, and promised to update once a screening of the film is confirmed in Nairobi.

Milking The Rhino

I am pleased to invite you to the premiere film screening of Milking The Rhino

Tuesday January 13th 2009 at 5 p.m

Goethe Institut – Corner of Loita/Monrovia Street Maendeleo House
Nairobi.

Cost: Free

The film will run for 85 minutes and there will be time for discussion following the screening. Some special guests featured in the film will likely be in attendance, Dr. Helen Gichohi, President of the African Wildlife Society in Nairobi and if possible, a representative of the Lewa Conservancy. Do join us for a discussion on community conservation, environment and film.

I will have some cool MTR buttons to hand out, and believe me, it would be well worth your evening to attend this screening.

You can RSVP on the facebook event page if you will be there.

January 28th 2009 – Accra, Ghana

EcoLab Conference
Hosted by The Society for Conservation Biology and Ecological Lab Unit of University of Ghana. MTR will be screening with a reception to follow.

*Many thanks to KikuyuMoja, Barbara Reich of Goethe Institute, Xan Aranda of Kartemquin films, William Deed of the Mara Conservancy and last but not least Jeannie Magill the executive producer of MTR for making this happen.

Do come and milk the rhino! :-)

For info on other screenings in US and the rest of the world, please check the MTR website.

Milking The Rhino: Conservation, Community and Empowerment

Last month, I was very fortunate to attend the premiere of the film ‘Milking The Rhino’ at the Gene Siskel Film center in Chicago.
Milking The Rhino

This film left an big impression on me. Long time readers of this blog know that I do have granola-head, green thumb, renewable-energy obsession, tree-huggery tendencies, so no surprise there eh.
Without giving too much away…the film opened my eyes to the link between Kenya’s history and our attitudes towards conservation. Before the British came, Kenyan communities had traditions around hunting wild animals (These traditions and folklore still persist – I visited
Samburu in 2006 and learned a wee bit about this). I would posit that it was sustainable, because there was some balance between the hunting that was done and the populations of wildlife. When laws were enacted to forbid Kenyans from hunting…something they had been doing for millennia, that relationship with the natural world was broken. Why would one want to protect something that they are not benefitting from? Wildlife started to be seen as a nuisance. Granted that there is demand for ‘exotic’ skins, tusks, and bone from wild animals particularly in Asia; one of the factors behind poaching in the parks, there are instances of communities killing wildlife because their crops were destroyed by animals such as Elephants. Still, our attitudes towards conservation and environment bear some reflection.

The film profiles two communities, one in Kenya, at the Il Ngwesi lodge and the Lewa Conservancy, and another in Namibia. The narration is brilliantly voiced by a Kenyan Munyikombo Bukusi, a very talented guy. This film had me making plans to visit Il Ngwesi Group Ranch, if you need a place to get away and relax your cares away…Il Ngwesi lodge looks like just the place to go.

The blurb from the film’s site gives you a glimpse into the documentary…

A ferocious kill on the Serengeti, warnings about endangered species
These cliches of nature documentaries ignore a key landscape feature: villagers just off-camera, who navigate the dangers and costs of living with wildlife.
The Maasai of Kenya and Namibians Himba two of Earth’s oldest cattle cultures are in the midst of upheaval. After a century of white man conservation,which displaced them and fueled resentment towards wildlife, they are vying to share the wildlife-tourism pie.
Community-based conservation, which tries to balance the needs of wildlife and people, has been touted by environmentalists as win-win. The reality is more complex. Charting the collision of ancient ways with Western expectations, MILKING THE RHINO tells intimate, hopeful and heartbreaking stories of people facing deep cultural change.

The film will premiere on PBS Spring 2009, hosted by Terence Howard (the famous actor – Crash, Hustle & Flow etc)
Till then, the following festivals and screenings are your best chance of watching it. If you cannot wait, you can purchase the DVD for $25.00 from Kartemquin films, just contact Xan. I would highly recommend the DVD.

Screenings:

November 2nd 2008 3pm: Chicago Humanities FestivalChicago Cultural Center

International Premiere
International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
November 2008

Washington, D.C. Premiere : D.C. Environmental Film Festival
March 11 – 22, 2009

*I will update this post if there will be screenings in Kenya. (I am asking about this and hoping we can arrange one soon)

Geo-Engineering – A Big Ridiculous Idea?

In the September 10th 2008 issue of the Economist, there was an article about Geo-engineering, describing the ‘Transactional Analysis’ document from the Royal scientist
In the paper, the idea of planting trees was was ‘alluded to but not discussed’.

A second idea for scrubbing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, alluded to in the Transactions but not much discussed, is to plant more trees. In principle, any old trees would do—although they die and rot, more forest cover would lock up more carbon dioxide. However, genetically modified trees might grow faster. Such trees are being developed to help the lumber, pulp and biofuel industries. But fast-growing forests could also be planted in order to capture carbon dioxide quickly.

Funny, this is the idea that seems doable yet it is not given much attention. Amongst other benefits, trees would help reclaim water catchment areas that are dwindling as we speak, and while we are at, why not encourage planting indigenous trees to enhance plant diversity?

calmly rolling

It warms my heart when right wingers like Pat Robertson can sit with Al Sharpton on a setee by the beach, and proclaim that they see eye to eye on the climate crisis. The ads just point people to visit wecansolveit.org. A website will not a crisis avert. Granted they are are trying to create a community/movement, but that wont do much in my opinion. The ads would have been more effective if they pointed out one demonstrable action that people can take (I’d suggest urging people to plant trees) AND visit wecansolveit.org. Al, I love you, but please find a more practical way, or change ad agencies.

Planting trees; though quite obvious seems to make much more sense to me than giant rotating cylinders that create the ‘magnus effect’. It makes more sense that putting sulphur in jet fuel, flying in high altitudes and polluting the atmosphere so the sulphur crystals can reflect the sun’s rays off the earth. Don’t get me wrong, I would really like to believe that I am open-minded the big ideas put forth in the transactional paper. I do agree that the climate crisis is one big ginormous problem that threatens the future stability of the world, heck my grandma told me climate change is real. What is being done NOW to adapt to climate change? What are we doing to reclaim our rapidly deforested areas? Big questions. Yet, we can start with simple, yet obvious actions like planting trees.

In the quest to make it a cool thing to do (Gardeners and tree huggers are hardly rock stars) perhaps borrowing an idea from Joi Ito, he tags photos on his flickr stream with ‘freesouls’ How about we begin a tag ‘greensouls’ where you take a picture of someone/yourself planting a tree, upload to flickr, tag it and if you can, geo-tag it as ‘greensoul’?

Oh, if you can find a trader who can help monetize the tree planting to carbon credits, I would very much like to assuage my carbon guilt. I seem to have added it to my catholic guilt so now I have much more guilt than I know what to do with. It does not help that some friends keep chiding me about my carbon footprint.

Connecting Green Dots in Capetown SA

Last Saturday I had the privilege of meeting with the green bloggers in South Africa. Rafiq Phillips was the best guide anyone could ask for, a TEDster, blogger and twitterer extraordinaire I am thankful to h

im for showing me around Cape Town.

Blogging about the environment is a multi-faceted endeavor, because it is such a broad topic. This was reflected in the concerns brought to the table by bloggers, and when you visit their blogs, you will see that each of them writes about the environment with a different style, and that they have varying concerns. From Green building techniques and green-tech on Carbon Smart, to reviews of eateries and films on Relax with Dax…The South African bloggers have passion for the environment and are part of the ‘green movement’ happening world wide. The question I was asked was, how come the bloggers in South Africa are the most active African writing about the environment? Part of the reason is the digital divide. The internet penetration rate in South Africa is relatively higher compared to other Sub Saharan countries. We have not seen more ‘green bloggers’ emerge in other parts of Africa in as big a way as they have in South Africa (particularly Cape town) I am no social scientist, but I do hope that as internet penetration rates increase in Africa, that we have more people writing about issues relating to the environment.

We discussed the business of blogging briefly, particularly whether to accept advertising on your site, particularly whether you can do this effectively without compromising your ‘voice’. For example if you do not condone the actions of a multinational company, yet when you have google ads, their ad could appear on your site. How do you manage that effectively? This remained an open question, though Wanda of UrbanSprout suggested having control over which ads can appear on your site with whichever method of ad service you pick.

Another issue was brought up by Rafaela of greenflavour, about using blogs for environmental activism. The resulting actions such as cease and desist letters from companies that try to sue you for stating an opinion. I did mention Eff.org as a resource, and checking the Berkman Center for Internet and Society on guidance in terms of law and free speech online.

Rory of Carbonsmart challenged all of us that we need to show transformation, to show that the environmental movement is happening, and that people are thinking about their impact on the environment and doing something about it. To this end, Rory has began a mapping project called ‘Greening Africa’. The map was mentioned on an earlier post on GV enviro.

Glen of Urbansprout is considering creating a map of the information contained in the exhaustive directory of green businesses. He and Wanda created the directory from scratch and it is currently part of the Urbansprout site. It is a good resource for the many football fans flocking to South Africa in 2010 for the the world cup. Do bookmark Greenstay.co.za, as he gets this project together.

There were so many other great conversations, but the consensus was that this was the first of many such gatherings for bloggers who share a concern for the environment to meet, exchange ideas and collaborate on various initiatives. I would like to thank each and every one of the bloggers who attended. I hope that this is but the beginning of many more meetups. I left encouraged, and inspired by the environment bloggers of the Mother City.

South African Green Blogger Meetup

Links to their blogs are listed here (in no particular order).

Rory Carbon Smart

Dax Relax with Dax

Glen urbansprout

Wanda Urbansprout

Cecile Dream in Green

Candice Aspirant Locavore

Raffaella Green Flavour

Tracy Capetown Oracle and EcoStreet

Update: One more link…Ian ‘GreenMan’, I have been reading his blog for years and can’t believe I forgot to include a link.

The wiki is available for future meetups and as always if there is a blogger interested in joining the Global voices team for enviro-bloggers, please let me know.

Pictures of Capetown are posted on the flickr set ‘I love Capetown’. Thanks again to the enviro-bloggers in South Africa for their time and for their hospitality.

If you dont like the network, make your own!

Well, i am paraphrasing Jim Forster’s line which in its entirety reads, “If you don’t like the network you have, go out and make your own“. This was one of my favorite quotables at TEDGlobal in Arusha.

Jim Forster is the distinguished engineer at Cisco, the veritable maker of routers and switches that form the backbone of the internet, amongst other products and services. He is also one of the contributors to the invaluable free resource “Wireless Networking in the Developing World” – An in depth guide to planning and building low cost telecom infrastructure.

In his 3 minute presentation at TEDGlobal he talked about the current state of telecom, likening it to a railroad system where everyone is a customer but it doesn’t reach all the areas ‘last mile’ as it were. The model that we should be considering is one that is composed of many private networks, similar to the model of the internet, or a ‘network of networks’. We need to encourage our governments to support the idea of many networks that are run either privately or as businesses providing network access to others. Please click on the graphic below to download the presentation that he has made available.
Presentation at TEDglobal

There is also more information available on the site Network The World.

While on the topic of wireless networks, Riyaz of skunkworks pointed me to Meraki’s june announcement of the first solar powered outdoor wifi access kit.

Priced at just $99, Meraki Outdoor can send a signal up to 700 feet. Paired with Merakiâ??s existing indoor $49 Mini, the Meraki Outdoor repeater can power access for dozens of households sharing one high speed connection. Meraki Outdoor can be easily installed on a wall or even a pole outside the house. It marks another step forward in Merakiâ??s efforts to change the economics of Wi-Fi access, driving the cost per household of high speed connections to $1 to $2 a month.

Adding the Meraki Solar accessory kit will allow the repeater to broadcast a signal without being connected to any electrical source, making it an ideal solution for any community, even emerging markets where electricity is scant or unreliable.

The skunkworks crew and other wireless networking experts, you are very welcome to comment on whether you see any private networks being set up in Nairobi or other parts of Africa that utilize the ideas alluded to above. Meanwhile…no whining!

The Network
Image from the internet superstar – Hugh Mcleod.

**Tangential Digression – Weird Cell behavior on the border.

On crossing the border from Tanzania into Kenya and vice versa, i got the following text message on my safaricom line…from Celtel. It stated “Welcome to Kenya & thank you for choosing Celtel.International access code is 000 or +.The tourist help line is +254733617499.Celtel. Making life better.”. Worrisome to say the least. Is celtel just broadcasting a signal to all and sundry? How did they get the safaricom number? What expectation of privacy should safaricom customers have? I later found out that everyone gets that sms whether they are on a celtel line or safaricom. I mentioned it to Mr. Forster and he pointed out that some networks do play nice and share infrastructure even base stations. Its quite curious…Do chime in if you’ve experienced something similar, even weirder, or if you can shed light on how and why this occurs. Does the same thing happen on crossing into Uganda?