Barcamp Nairobi 2014 Edition

Barcamp Nairobi 2014Barcamp Nairobi 2014 is set to begin, seven years after the first one was held. It’s one of those events that brings people out of the woodwork around the city, where techies who don’t normally meet end up having great conversations, and relationships are formed.

This Saturday, Aug 30th at 08:00, your chance to lead a conversation on something interesting begins. Nailab and iHub are hosting it, and we’re expecting 400 people to show up for the event.

Go register now, if you haven’t already, it’s free.

It was while sitting around after Barcamp Nairobi 2008 that the seed for what would become the iHub was planted, and why this post was written (many old blog posts from 2008 here). Many of the people I work with today on the teams at BRCK and Ushahidi were at these same events over the years.

Past Barcamp Nairobi Pics

Discussion topics

You’re the one who decides what the discussion will be, and we’ve seen everything from “how to make yoghurt” to “Python 101” to “blogging for women” conversations (and everything in between).

This year, there’s bound to be some discussions around government surveillance and personal privacy in Kenya.

We entrust our most sensitive, private, and important information to private technology companies. At the same time the increasing usage of technology has attracted the attention of authorities eager to provide caveats on the openness of the Internet and the range of freedoms, which we enjoy online.

That’s sure to be a firestorm, of the best kind…

Barcamp Nairobi 2010: Day 2

Today is only a half day at Barcamp Nairobi 2010. We’re getting underway, and there are 5 talks so far:

  • 9 colloquial Kenyan languages in Whive.com by John Karanja
  • Live mapping using OpenStreetMap and GPS units by @mikel
  • “Build a Drupal site in 20-minutes” by @batje
  • “Geek girls in Nairobi” by the Akirachix
  • Explaining the Kenya ICT Board $3m grant by @Kaburo
  • Google Geo API

The $4 Million Kenya ICT Board Grant

“US$ 4 Million of the proceeds for Grant Applications for the development of digital content and software applications.”

It was announced 10 days ago, and there are already 500+ applications. Final applications are due by July 19, 2010.

$10k for individuals and $50k for organizations. That is a Kenyan citizen and above 18 years old, for companies, you have to be registered in Kenya. You have to show your resume/CV for the leadership team.

The application can be done online.

Two main areas of the grant:

  1. Government services and applications (5 ministries)
  2. Any innovative ideas around digital content and software

The first 46 grants will be handed out to both private and public sector ideas and applications. More grants will be given out to companies (30) than private individuals (16), but there will be an equal split between the two groupings.

Grants announced on August 15th, 2010, at which point they will be working on contracts. The grant will be given out in 3-4 tranches, starting in October 2010. The funds have to be spent within 12 months. There will only be 46 grants given out this year (2010).

A single company can apply in multiple rounds for a grant, but will only be given one grant per round.

What protection will your idea be given? The team looking at and reviewing/judging the applications will be signing NDAs. There are 9 judges who will decide the winning proposals, and they do plan on sharing the names of those individuals.

Some people are worried that if they have a new idea, and they’re working for a company, that that company will own it and not them. Kaburo Kobia is suggesting that if they believe that is really the case, then the individuals should break away before then.

If you have any questions, make use of their website, send them an email at grants@ict.co.ke, call them at +254-020-2211960 or visit them on the 12th floor of Teleposta towers.

Google Maps API

IMG_0978

Mano is one of the top engineers from the Google Maps team and he was flown out to Kenya specifically for Barcamp Nairobi. He’s giving an overview of what can be done using their API, well beyond the normal pointal use that we see all the time.

I asked him what they’re doing about offline mapping, especially for those of us in Africa who don’t have the same access to connectivity. Mano says that they’re concerned about offline maps as well, which they don’t offer, but not for the reason I suggested. Instead, they see most of the people in the world accessing maps via mobiles, so they need to be able to let that happen when data capability is not within range.

Barcamp Nairobi 2010 is Humming!

It’s our first chai break and there’s easily 250+ people at Barcamp Nairobi 2010 already. The hashtag is #BarcampNairobi, there is a @BarcampNairobi Twitter account. We’re streaming it LIVE here.

The Barcamp Nairobi 2010 Flickr group is here.

There is blogging going on at the following links (ping me if I miss you):

KosmoReporter (Pictures)
iHub blog
Wannabe Geek (Live Blogging)
Multiplicity

Some amazing things have happened to get us to this point. Phares Kariuki led the organizing team, where people volunteered of their time to organize and create the logo. Sponsors really stepped up, including:

Ushahidi
Mocality
Seven Seas
Zuku
K24
Google Kenya
Kenya ICT Board
iHub (facility)
NaiLab (facility)

NYT Article on the Kenya Tech Scene

Gregg Zachary happened by Barcamp Nairobi last month and had a chance to meet with a few of the techies who were lingering around after the event. Conversations from that night spurred his article today in the New York Times titled, “Inside Nairobi, the Next Palo Alto?“.

It’s a good read on why Kenya, even after the violence in January and February, is still a tech hub in Africa. Between Skunkworks, Google Kenya and an active (and creative) coding community you have the makings of a great place to do web and mobile development in Africa.

Here’s the excerpt on Wilfred, who is building the Ushahidi iPhone application. He’s also using my old MacBook Pro and, assuming everything goes right, he’ll have an iPhone to play with later on this year. :)

“Consider Wilfred Mworia, a 22-year-old engineering student and freelance code writer in Nairobi, Kenya. In the four weeks leading up to Apple’s much-anticipated release of a new iPhone on July 11, Mr. Mworia created an application for the phone that shows where events in Nairobi are happening and allows people to add details about them.

Mr. Mworia’s desire to develop an application for the iPhone is not unusual: many designers around the world are writing programs for the device. But his location posed some daunting obstacles: the iPhone doesn’t work in Nairobi, and Mr. Mworia doesn’t even own one. He wrote his program on an iPhone simulator.

“Even if I don’t have an iPhone,” Mr. Mworia says defiantly, “I can still have a world market for my work.”

It’s really good to see the Kenyan tech community get this high profile piece. Riyaz, Josiah and Eric have been the steady center-pieces of the growing Skunkworks crowd. Chris and Joe are doing great things at Google Kenya.

Oh, and Nairobi is a small town after all… Most don’t know that Josiah (Skunkworks) and Chris (Google Kenya) are old classmates from Starehe. A lot of old connections just like that tend to be the glue that keeps everything together.

Barcamp Nairobi ’08 – Final Recap

Barcamp Nairobi ended up being quite an event, with 228 attendees and an overwhelming amount of good conversations. The list included bloggers, web and mobile developers, government officials and students. We had people from all over Kenya, as well as a couple who came in from Tanzania. It was truly eclectic and exactly what we were hoping it would be. Josiah Mugambi has the full run-down of topics covered in each room.

Pictures
Can be found on Picasa, Flickr and Facebook (you’ll have to friend John Wesonga for the Facebook ones).

Videos
I’m working on uploading a couple videos from Barcamp Nairobi. There were some really good conversations started, not all of which I was able to get on video, or even be in the room for. Hopefully, we’ll get some blog posts and videos from others who were there as well.

I’ll continue uploading additional videos throughout the week on YouTube.

Barcamp Nairobi Bloggers (let me know if I missed you):

O’Reilly Radar
(Programming Languages Survey)
Al Kags (gov’t perspective)
Rob Rooker
The Deeper Meaning of Life (Liz)
John Wesonga
Wilfred Mworia
Josiah Mugambi
Clement “Omesa” Ongera
Peperuka
Frontline Interactive
69mb (poster) (post #2)
Louder than Swahili (post #2)
Startup Africa
Notes from the Road (on Ndemo)
SportsKenya
Tech Talk (NY Times columnist)
Girl in the Meadow
The Gitts Zone
Brian Longwe
Kenyan Poet
Open Source Africa
Do Good Well
Business in Focus
Odyssean
Network World

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

Barcamp Nairobi Begins

Things started on Nairobi time, we had some chai and samosa, now we’re beginning the sessions. There seems to be over 100 people here already. T-shirts are being handed out, and we’re passing out O’Reilly books and Yahoo freebies during the day.

TAG for blogging, Twitter and Flickr: barcampnairobi

My Barcamp pictures are going up to this set on Flickr.

First up is:

  • Where are the devs? – Riyaz Bachani talks about the increasing bandwidth options in Nairobi, but asks where are the online entrepreneurs?
  • Google Maps as Platform – Mark from Google Kenya talks about using Google Maps in detail.
  • BugLabs – Brian Muita gives an overview of hacking the BUGbundle, showing his new accelerometer game, then opening up the device for hacking by devs today.

Tim getting excited
Second group:

  • UbuntuMzungu talks about using Ubuntu, LTSP server, and running applications on the server instead of the workstation.
  • Plone (cms) –
  • Jahazi – Mugambi talks about his app.

I’ll be going up in the third session, talking about “blogging tips and tricks”.

Some Happenings from Week 1 in Kenya

Man, things are crazy. This last week has been very busy, and full of interesting stuff. Some of the more important, mixed with fun and mundane:


AfriGadget
makes the Time.com list of “Top 50 Websites of 2008“. Completely unexpected, and thrilling to see. Thanks to all the editors like Steve, Juliana and JKE too.

Met up with an incredibly talented mobile phone application creator, Steve Mutinda, (J2ME) with two very cool mobile phone apps. Full video interviews on him too, and have just posted the first article.

Barcamp + Buglabs = <3

Got together with some local Kenyan tech guys and we’re hacking away on a BugLabs BUGbundle, trying to get a cool app up and running on it by Barcamp Nairobi this weekend. Posting pictures on that soon.

Met up with a ton of local guys, with some really interesting projects and ideas that I’ll be blogging about soon. Including big thinker Al Kags of the ICT Board, talented designer Fadz of Ark, Matere Lutische with a really cool idea, and many more…

Redid the Ushahidi wireframes, and meeting with some local developers to help build version 2 with us. Got some neat stuff up our sleeves, and one big surprise for Saturday’s Barcamp.

Went and watched a lot of rugby (Pictures are up at Flickr), including Quins vs KCB, RVA vs Mang’u and the Safari Sevens veterans. I love rugby season, only wish I could play too.

Choo makes a break

Finally, the windup to tomorrow’s Barcamp Nairobi is at an end. Thanks to Google Kenya, Strategiclee, the Kenya ICT Board and Ushahidi for sponsoring it. We’re all set and ready to roll at the Jacaranda Hotel (Pizza Garden side). Should be a blast, and there will be a lot of pictures and posts to come.