Tag Archives: Africa Connections

Happy Thanksgiving

The olden days, a.k.a. last summer in Kla

Hey everyone, how are you doing? Well, the site I am doing with Emmanuel is almost ready to go up, though our hosting site is being a bit difficult. Thanks for all your encouragement and support as we transition to our new web presence. This project was definitely a labor of love… and it will be live next Monday at http://www.ugandansabroad.org.

There has been all sorts of interesting/disturbing/fascinating stuff going on in Uganda and her neighbors…

-The U.N. released a damning report to some media houses (still haven’t been able to access the real thing) that said two Rwandan rebel groups, including the FDLR (composed largely of the former Interahamwe, which commited the Rwandan genocide), were recruiting in two refugees camps in Uganda– one of which I even visited in 2007, Nakivale, when I was with SIT. It also said that Uganda and Burundi were smuggling $1.2 billion in gold out of the DR Congo, purchasing gold from FDLR-controlled mines, and reselling it in the United Arab Emirates.
As a reporter, as sick it is, my first impulse was– whoa, what a story! I could imagine eight or nine follow-up stories coming from this report, and stories that would come from the follow-up story. Immediately, I began imagining commodity chains (it’s the Joshua Muldavin in me!). And this report had one hell of a commodity chain, from Spanish NGOs giving funds to the FDLR to recruiting in the camps that are repatriating their Rwandan refugees as we speak (I got to cover this for Women’s eNews!).  If you somehow can find a copy of this report, please let me know– I am dying to see it, and I don’t get why the UN leaked it so many press organizations, then didn’t share it with the public.

In eastern Congo, the mineral trade fuels and funds war-- at the expense of millions of people.

Other things that I have been paying attention to…

-If you want a good story, there’s always the General James Kazini murder saga (and see, this actually is a nice segway from the UN report, since Kazini spent a great deal of time looting minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo).  This famous general, who has led troops against all sorts of insurgencies in the Great Lakes region, was allegedly bludgeoned to death by his lover in Namuwongo, in one of the strangest stories I’ve heard in awhile.  Andrew Mwenda had a great take on it. Whether Lydia Draru, his 28-year-old lover, really killed this top general, I have no idea…

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Three cheers for new media projects in the Sunshine Continent

Does this mean I won't need a good novel when I am surfing in Kampala?

I’m really excited about all the African new media sites I keep stumbling upon, from projects to blogs to new tools, or combos of all three.  Everything from open street maps that map Kenyan slums to Google Earth workshops in Kampala.  As I get ready to launch my own site (it’s not up yet) on November 30th (12 days and counting) with Emmanuel, I can’t help but be inspired by the exciting things I keep finding on the web.  I thought I would share with you things that are related to Africa and new media that I enjoy on the web…

1) I really like White African, a site that has introduced me to a lot of exciting new stuff on the web.  It’s run by Erik Hersman, who grew up in Kenya and the Sudan, and lives in the U.S. now with three daughters.  He has a personal blog, White African, and AfriGadget, which is about micro-entrepreneurs and tech ingenuity on the continent.  He consults for Ushaidi, which crowdsources crisis information, and his site is full of interesting links and info, to everything from African iphone games to Appfrica and remitting money through cell phones.  He tweets here (I’m addicted to Twitter these days– trying to say interesting things out, without being a twit! but I still like facebook status updates better).  Whenever I need inspiration, I check out his blog, or see what Clay Shirky and Jeff Jarvis are writing about.

2) Stop Stock-outs.  This is a project from Ushaidi that I think is pretty neat, using online maps.  The maps show stock-outs of essential medicines in Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia collected via SMS during the pill check week. Use the zoom scroller on the left side of the map to have a closer look and move the map around by clicking and dragging. Selecting a red “hotspot” will show you more detail. Larger dots represent a greater number of stock-outs.

3) Appfrica.net. Whoa, now this site blows my mind! I love apps (applications for google, facebook, iphones, blackberries, etc.), so this site was a must-visit for me.  So yum- Appfrica Labs! (This is coming from a girl who salivates over whatever Google comes out with next, especially if it’s related to Gmail.)  Also, yay– the CEO of Appfrica Labs live in Kampala! Check out Appfrica’s state of infotech, which has some really great graphics.

Underseas cables around the continent

Appfrica is how I learned about OpenStreetMaps mapping slum neighborhoods in Kenya.  I am working on a story right now that has about 3-4 graphs on Kibera, so this is pretty exciting.

Twelve young residents of Kibera will first be trained on current mapping techniques during a two-day workshop. Individuals from the growing Nairobi technology scene will help train and network with the larger community. The group will then map all of Kibera over a two-week period in mid-November and share the results through OpenStreetMap, joining a growing global community of tech-savvy grassroots mapmakers. “The project will provide open-source data that will help illustrate the living conditions in Kibera. Without basic knowledge of the geography of Kibera it is impossible to have an informed discussion on how to improve the lives of residents of Kibera,” said Mikel Maron.


Check out:

-Google Earth workshops that happened in Kampala and Nairobi

-Pricing web development services in an African market

-Google Trader