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Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Tag: meetup

Hanging out with Ghanaian Devs

Though I’ve been busy running around getting ready for this Maker Faire Africa event, I’ve also had some nice chats with the a few of the programmers and designers in Accra. I know there are still a lot that I haven’t met, but this has been a good start.

I’ll start out by saying this: one of the most disappointing things that I’ve come across here is the lack of community within the tech scene. There is no mailing list, forum, or other digital touch-point for the devs to keep in touch with each other and discuss pertinent local issues. I know just how valuable this is due to my involvement with the Skunkworks tech community in Nairobi.

Offsetting that is the fact that they do have places like Busy Internet and AITI, two facilities that are well-known for supporting the tech community, that act as nexus points for tech meetups and user groups. There are also a number of good tech outfits with quality programmers.

First impressions leave me excited about the talent, but surprised at the lack of connectivity within the community.

Ushahidi meetup

Tonight we had an Ushahidi meetup night in Accra over at the Suuch Solutions office. It’s a great location, butting up to a hotel with nice seating for a get together like ours. We had a couple devs from BusyLab (which I’ll write a full post on soon), a couple from Succh, as well as Henry Addo from our team.

Ushahidi Ghana Meetup

It looks like we have a couple new guys to help out on some interesting parts of the platform. George is an HTML markup guy who is itching to get his hands into some design work, and Chinedu is going to dig into the API with Henry.

The BugLabs Device

We also had a chance to break out the Bug kit from BugLabs, a completely modular hardware device that can be programmed using Java. I’m not sure who will be having the first crack at it, but everyone was amazed with it. What geek doesn’t like this type of stuff? I mean, accelerometer, GPS, camera, LCD, WiFi and control unit. It’s just such a crazy-cool device.

Buglabs kit in Ghana

Meetups in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda

August is a busy month. If you’re in Ghana, Kenya or Uganda and want to meetup about anything, let me know. Here’s a rough agenda for some open times and events on my schedule.

ghana-kenya-uganda

Ghana

I’ll be in Ghana from Aug 10-18, much of that time will be spent getting ready for and putting on Maker Faire Africa. If you’re attending that event, or want to carve out some time to chat before/after it, let me know.

We’re having an Ushahidi meetup on Wednesday, Aug 12th starting at 6pm at the Adabraka. If you want to know more about the project, let me, Henry Addo or Brian Herbert know.

I’m really interested in seeing some of the mobile and web apps that the Ghanaian community is working on. If you know someone working on something cool that I just shouldn’t miss, leave it in the comments.

Kenya

I’ve got a couple days in Kenya around Aug 19-20 and Aug 23-26. As usual, my Kenya time gets busy very quickly, so let me know now if you want to meet and I’ll see if I can slot it in. I’ve always got time for cool stuff. 🙂

I’m planning to have an Ushahidi meetup on Wednesday, Aug 26th starting at 6pm at the Prestige Plaza food court (as usual). Come meet the Ushahidi team that’s behind the latest “Goma” release. Also we’ll have the two newest members of Ushahidi in attendance.

Uganda

I’ve got a quick jaunt over to Uganda where I’ll be meeting up with the Appfrica team and Teddy Ruge. We’re also planning on having a tech meetup on Friday, Aug 20th. Again, let us know if you can make it.

As you can tell, it’s a little bit of a whirlwind trip. Follow along here for updates (and AfriGadget for the Maker Faire Africa reports).

England – Africa Gathering – London

African Meetups, Barcamps and Conferences

African Tech Events CalendarThings are definitely heating up in the African tech sphere according to my calendar of African tech events (Events RSS feed) for the remainder of the year. From Madagascar to Mauritius there are unconferences, conferences and adhoc meetups happening at a rate I haven’t seen before. The African tech scene is definitely getting bigger and noisier.

Barcamp Nairobi

In the next two weeks we have 8 events covering 6 countries:

** I’ll be attending these
* I will stream in live to Barcamp Africa with the South Africans, but it’s also open in Kenya and Ghana.

On top of these scheduled conferences and unconferences, there are many meetups happening all over the place – from the monthly 27Dinner in cities around South Africa to the bi-monthly Skunkworks meetings in Kenya.

Africa’s a happening place – just watch!

[As always, if you know of an upcoming African tech event, let me know and I’ll add it to the calendar]

A Fun Night of Hacking & Brainstorming in Nairobi

One of the thing I love about coming to Kenya is the passionate developers that are scattered around Nairobi. Tonight 6 of us got together to hack on the borrowed BugLabs device, and to brainstorm a Sony Ericsson SDK mobile phone application.

Brian Muita and Wilfred Mworia had their first chance to play with the BUGbundle, a device that you can hack about 10 ways from Sunday. So far we’re understanding the device, and are working on getting a premade working app on it. Needless to say, we’ll likely be in the BugLabs forums quite a lot this week so we can get it working in time for Saturday’s Barcamp Nairobi. (update: Brian got it to work!)

Eric Magutu, Laban Mwangi and Steve Mutinda were all there to brainstorm a cool application that would allow them to utilize some of the neat features available in the Sony Ericsson SDK that had been showcased at Skunkworks last week.

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