Tuesday, September 28, 2010

PEOPLE AND THE WEB: Web 2.0 Technologies must be Development Oriented.


As I sat in the room at Baraka Agricultural College to attend the Web 2.0 learning Opportunity in Molo-Kenya, I didn’t know what to expect from the sessions which were yet to start on the morning of 27th Sept 2010. When Mr. Nicholas Kimolo, the key trainer requested us to introduce ourselves and briefly talk about the organizations we work for and what our expectations for the training were? I was second in the queue and stressed the fact that I was from Uganda, I also mentioned that my main expectation is to build on what I already knew about web 2.0 tools. At the end of the introductions, I noticed that I was the only Ugandan in a room of 24 trainees, meaning that 23 were all Kenyans.
Being the only Ugandan trainee didn’t just happen, right from the call for applications, one of the key requirements was to be Kenyan. I was the only lucky non Kenyan shortlisted and eventually invited to attend the one week training. Mr. Nicholas mentioned that over 700 applications had been received but we were the Lucky few to be shortlisted.
The training began with a welcome message from the principle of the hosting college Br. David Muchemi who warmly welcomed the participants to the college. He then gave us a brief background of the college. Read more about Baraka.
Mr. Nicholas Kimolo then introduced his co-facilitator Mr. Morris and gave a brief background of the Web 2.0 learning opportunity. He mentioned that the learning opportunity forms part of CTA initiatives that support development partners in networking, accessing and disseminating information more effectively. He then said that we were being trained as Trainers in the use and application of web 2.0 tools.

The General Principles of Web 2.0 tools
Mr. Kimolo said that the training would entail accessing information using web 2.0, Learn what web 2.0 tools are, what other people have dome with web 2.0,  Breaking it down according to functionality, how web 2.0 have been used to successful disseminate information, remote Collaboration, Voice over Internet protocol (VOIP), Mapping(Information in a Geo form), Blogging, using  Social Networks for Professional Social Networking  and finally introducing the use of iMARK module “web 2.0 and social Media for Development”.
What the participatory web for development is all about.
‘When the web started, we needed a web Master to guide and help end users but today, everything has changed. Web 2.0 tools are 2nd generation tool that empower users on the web to read and write to it. With Web 2.0 tools, you can publish your content without having to rely on others. It is user centered and enables inter-operability and Information sharing.
Web 2.0 tools alone are not relevant unless they are linked to development. They must be Participatory in a sense that people must be involved and sharing/access to information must be voluntary. We need to be ‘people centered’ and understand their needs. We must also understand that access might not only be connection but Language. Web 2.0 tools are of four categories (Aggregation, Collaborative /Filtering, Rating / tagging and Widget/Component).They can either be web based or Non-web-based)
Web 2.0 technologies were made possible because of the falling price of Hardware & Software, the technological Advances (Easy for a non Techie person to communicate and use technology) and the increasing use of Mobile devices especially in Africa.
For the first day of the training, we were introduced to web 2.0 and we looked at the opportunities and threats, we also looked at advanced searches, Alerts and RSS. Today [Day 2], we concentrated on Wikis, GoogleDocs and Skype. 

For the two days that I have so far spent, I must say that a lot of value has been added to what I already knew about web 2.0. I feel that by the end of day 5, I will be a real expert in Web 2.0 applications. Also, the choice of venue for the training was perfect, far from town with no shopping malls to distract participants, therefore the levels of concentration and participation are high.
Thanks to The Technical centre for Agriculture and rural cooperation ACP EU (CTA) for making this possible. I hope that a similar training will be conducted in Uganda in the near future.

At the end of the training, together with three Kenyan colleagues will have an entire write-up about the sessions and I promise to share the link with all you awesome people!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A road trip to a 'mysterious' place called Molo in Search of Knowledge!!

How it all started.
When The Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural cooperation ACP EU (CTA) announced a web 2.0 Learning Opportunity in Molo, Kenya through it’s mailing lists, I was excited and very enthusiastic. I quickly but accurately read through with a focus on the requirements for the training which all seemed perfect for me except one “YOU MUST BE A KENYAN”.  This would have made me give up easily since I am UGANDAN  but being the curious and daring kind of person, this did not deter me from applying for the one week training. I said to myself that I needed the skills just like the Kenyan’s did.

A few weeks Later, I received a call from the Coordinator “ICT and Innovations”, CTA who wanted to know if I really needed the training . My answer was definitely affirmative. I also had an opportunity to ask him why the training was being restricted to Kenyan Citizens yet we call ourselves ‘East Africans’, He told me that CTA did not have enough finances to cater for transport of participants from Outside Kenya but added that a similar training will be conducted early 2011 in Uganda [Not sure about how the political situation will be then]. He added that if I was lucky enough to be shortlisted, I would cater for my own transport to Molo. As I write this blog post, I am seated in a room with 23 Kenyans[Excuse me: Fellow EastAfricans] attending the Web2.0 Learning Opportunity at Baraka Agricultural College in Molo, Kenya.
View Molo on Google Maps

My Journey to Molo.
On the 26th Sept 2010, heeding to a friend’s advice not to board a bus, I headed for the Old Taxi park in Kampala to begin my journey to a mysterious place called MOLO. I was lucky to find the taxi with a small Card board almost half way full having the words TORORO/MALABA inscribed on it. I took up the front seat just next to the driver’s. When it filled up, it was about 9:37am and it took us another 13 minutes to find our way out of the disorganized Taxi park. Once we were out of the park, I estimated 3hours of non-stop driving to reach Malaba boarder. And indeed we were at Malaba at about 1:00pm with delays that  resulted of a few stop overs in Tororo and some time that got wasted when some of the language[also known as “muzigo” in swahilli] fell out of the boot and had to be put back.
At Malaba, the immigration process on the Ugandan side was less of a hustle, I had my passport stamped in  less than 5 mins and straight away headed for  Immigration at the Kenyan side. I nearly shed tears when I saw the long queue. [I later on learnt that the queues were long because the Arrival/Departure forms had gotten finished]. I had to join the queue until I had my passport stamped. I  then rushed to the stage to board the “Eldoret|Nakuru|Nairobi” taxi also known as ‘matatu’ in Kenya. I had to start using Kenya Shillings and start speaking Swahili………………..the money bit was easy but the speech……..

View Larger Map
Conclusion
To cut the long story short, I left malaba after about 2hrs of waiting for the matatu to feel up, reached Eldoret at around 5:47 and left for Nakuru at 7:25. Now MOLO my destination is located between Eldoret and Nakuru but I had to go straight to Nakuru to be on a safer side then board a Matatu on 26th Sept to Molo for the training. I had to speak all the little swahilli I knew because nobody gave a  ‘damn’ about English.  I managed to reach my destination at round 8:00am on the morning of 27th Sept 2010 and was warmly welcomed. I MUST say that despite all the stress and Tension I went through, I am so happy to be at Baraka Agricultural College. It is totally awesome Read more about Baraka 

Please do not ask me how I managed to pay my transport fares!!!
That will be told verbally