Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Category: Pictures (page 2 of 3)

Blogging this week

This is a courtesy post so that you know most of my blogging this week is taking place at AfriGadget due to being one of the organizers for Maker Faire Africa coming up this weekend.

I’m also doing some work on the “FLAP Bag Project“, testing out modular, solar and light-equipped bags in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda with Timbuk2, Portable Light and Pop!Tech.

We’ve got a big release of Ushahidi coming up this week too, so keep an eye on the Ushahidi blog where I have another write-up coming.

The Curious Case of Africa Blindness

Africa BlindnessA scotoma is a blind spot in your vision. Everyone has it, and it’s due to the lack of photoreceptors where your optic nerve exits your eyeball. Normally, it’s right at the center of your vision. It’s curious to note that most maps have Africa placed squarely in the center, and most are blind to it as well.

I’m a big fan of infographics, visualization tools that help us understand something faster than reading a long-winded explanation or a spreadsheet of data. It’s disappointed to see how Africa is usually missing from the global ones – especially in relation to technology.

I call this “Africa blindness”.

Luke Wertz linked one to me earlier today from the New Scientist on Twitter saying, “Notice anything missing from this image? Oh yea, the ENTIRE continent of Africa.”:

Global internet usage infographic

It’s a good graphic, really well designed and it does gets a point across. However, it’s missing two continents: Africa and Australia. Thank goodness, we’re not just dealing with Africa-blindness, but Oz-blindess too. 🙂

Here’s another great technology infographic, this time by XKCD where he’s showing the IPv4 space (that’s how you get an IP address). Note the glaringly obvious fact that the entire continent of Africa has the same-sized IP allocation as the likes of Apple and half as much as Japan.

XKCDs map of the internet - Africa

Is there a case for Africa Blindness in tech?

A part of me can understand how a graphic designer sitting in the US or Europe, tasked with creating a graphic, would bypass Africa. After all, if you’re not from the continent, you surely don’t think of it as having much relevance in the high-tech world. On top of that, it’s not always easy to find web and mobile data in Africa as it is in the rest of the world. The first is an issue of education and media focus. The second is far more serious of a problem.

You’d think that finding aggregate information on tech in Africa would be fairly easy to find. It’s not, at least not for free like it is for much of the rest of the world. If anyone should know this, it’s me. After all, this is what I spend a great deal of time tracking…

WhiteAfrican and Kiwanja at PopTech 2008

Having a tourist picture moment with Ken Banks of Kiwanja in Camden, Maine right before the Pop!Tech conference begins next week. We’re both Pop!Tech Fellows this year, which is turning out to be way more fun than we ever imagined.

(Note Ken Banks goofing off as usual…)

This reflection is in the door to the Camden Opera House, where the event will take place next week.


Here I am hanging out with Andrew Zolli, the curator of Pop!Tech, at the Zoot coffee shop. We spent way to much time talking camera lenses and then running around the area taking pictures. Fun times!

Post-Vacation Brain Freeze

I had a great unplugged-from-the-grid long weekend, from which I finally got back from late last night. This morning I actually sat in front of my computer and, though I had a million things to say, couldn’t seem to get them down right on the blog.

Instead, here’s a picture of me spending time with old friends and enjoying the analog life. 🙂

Fun with Friends

Thank God for lifelong friends.

Oh, and no thanks to Saints for the Prescott news

Barcamp Nairobi Pictures

I’m totally abusing the great (relative term) wifi connection left over at the Jacaranda Hotel after Barcamp Nairobi. Getting images loaded up as fast as possible…

Barcamp Nairobi ’08 pictures can be found on Flickr using the search tag, “barcampnairobi“.

My images are going up on this set.

Barcamp Nairobi

Barcamp Nairobi

Below, NY Times journalist G. Pascal Zachary, showed up and we had a great chat on the local tech makeup, opportunities and economy. Steve Mutinda tells his story of making mobile phone applications.

Post-Barcamp Nairobi Hanging out

eBay’s Meg Whitman: an Internet Icon

Meg Whitman, originally uploaded by whiteafrican.

Meg Whitman spoke at the eBay Live keynote last night. As always, I worked my way up to the front row so I could get some decent pictures. This one in particular really stuck out to me.

Meg has been at the helm of eBay for so long now that she is a cultural icon – not just at eBay, but on the web as a whole. She has steered the largest eCommerce site in the world from one success to another for 9 years now.

TEDGlobal Day 3: Inspiring!

Today’s been a little hectic, as I gave a talk today about AfriGadget and so couldn’t really concentrate at first… It seemed to go over well, so it was probably worth the lack of sleep. 🙂

Many of the African bloggers here had lunch together, and that was enjoyable, just to see so many faces that I had only known virtually, sitting down all in one place together.

The “Tales of Invention” session, which I did my talk in, was really outstanding. The speakers were engaging and really reminded everyone of the great opportunities and innovation seen around Africa. Bola Olabisi, started off with a stirring talk of her work showcasing women inventors in Africa and around the world.

Dr. Seyi Oyesola

I was fortunate to be sitting next to the final speaker of the innovation session, Dr. Seyi Oyesola. Talk about a dynamic and talented individual! His talk about reaching back into Nigeria to do open heart surgery in abysmal conditions moved everyone. He then finished, showcasing CompactOR – which, by it’s name, you can tell is a very compact and complete operating room in a small trolley.

Though tales of invention was my favorite due to its focus on technology, the last session of the day was much more moving. “The Campfire” showcased story tellers. Franco Saachi gave a great overview of “Nollywood”, Nigeria’s movie empire, the third largest in the world with over 2000 films released each year. Look for the documentary soon.

Writers Chris Abani and Binyavanga Wainaina were the final speaker. Wow! These guys are storytellers for good reason. Chris Abani gave a soul stirring talk about

Blogger Harinjaka from Madagascar

African Blogger, Harinjaka talks about Madagascar

Meeting the Inventors

There are two individuals here at TEDGlobal that it has been a great honor to meet. They are inventors, on the ground in Africa, creating solutions that will work in their area. These are great success stories that need to be celebrated, encouraged and supported.

William Kamkwamba was 14 when he found a tattered old book that taught how to build a windmill. This was a big deal, seeing as his small village in Malawi had no electricity. The generator, made from old bicycle parts and PVC piping powers his families lights and radios. (original coverage on AfriGadget with images)

William Kamkwamba

Moussa Keita is staying at my hotel, so I’ve had the pleasure of spending a good deal of time with him. Moussa worked with Geekcorps on a project building a CanTV in Mali. (see original coverage on Geekcorps, and watch the video)

Moussa Keita

(more images of TEDGlobal on Flickr)

Blogger and Techie Meetup in Kenya

Last night a number of bloggers, programmers and IT folks were able to get together for a little get together in Nairobi. Throughout the night about 20 people passed through the bar/restaurant where we met.

Among those present were bloggers Steve Mugiri from the Ntwiga blog, Juliana from Afromusing, Daudi Were from Mental Acrobatics. Riyaz Bachani, who organizes Skunkworks and the last BarCamp Kenya with Josiah Mugambi also came.

We had a great time over drinks and some Nyama Choma (beef and goat). A couple of us are off to a nearby orphanage today, then off to TED tomorrow.

Here’s a few pictures:

Kenya blogger and tech get together

some of us early in the evening

White African and Mental Acrobatics

Me and Mental

Juliana and Jacob

AfroMusing and Jacob a local developer)

Ntwiga and Hash

Ntwiga and Me

Skunkworks Kenya

I arrived in from South Africa in time to make it to the regular “Skunkworks” meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. This is where many of the brightest tech minds in Kenya get together to discuss ideas and pertinent issues within the Kenyan ICT sector.

Skunkworks Kenya - May 29, 2007

Among those present were Riyaz Bachani and Josiah Mugambi, two of the BarCamp Kenya organizers. I also had the chance to meet Mugambi Kimathi, creator of Jahazi (covered earlier). Jean-Antoine Bord, behind Pajama Nation, was also present. So, it was fun to talk to some of these guys who are at the “center of the storm” of web development in Kenya.

Riyaz BachaniThe topic for last evening’s discussion was the creation of a Linux Professional’s Association of Kenya, the positioning of Linux within the public and private sectors, and discussions on how to educate people about the benefits of open source operating systems and software. After having a long discussion with Heather Ford, Director of iCommons, which is based in South Africa, I can’t help but think that there is so much that can be done between these two groups.

At the end of the meeting, the consensus seemed to be that people in government, SME’s and even big business don’t really care about what the operating system is, so long as it works. If they can save money and run their business more profitably because of the decisions that their IT consultants make, then that’s a big extra. Having a local open source association that can provide success stories of companies and parastatals that have successfully implemented open source software will be a big help for further growth in this area.

Overall it was a great meeting that I really enjoyed sitting in on. The tech community in Nairobi was well represented and you can tell how passionate everyone is about creating a better tech sector in Kenya.

Evans Ikua - Linux professionals association of kenya

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