Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mobile phones providing excitement for rural folks

At the tiny Gaithuri river, Mama Wambui stands. She is down in her arrowroot farm but has to answer a call from another woman across the ridge. She is 34 and a mother of six. Am sure you know at what age she started giving birth and her challenges in the village, so i will not dwell on that.

One thing is that Mama Wambui did not go beyond class five, she dropped out and was married off, after all, she was an asset.

However, Mama Wambui has found herself a new territory, where she teaches other women how to operate their mobile phones. Checking credit and loading credit, Mama Wambui helps them all. She is a hero in Giathi village.

But on this day, there was a major challenge, one woman had received an SMS indicating that she has been entered into a draw and she could win shs 6,000. But the sight of the figures spured new excitement as they thought they had hit a minor jackpot.

There was excitement in the village as they summoned the most educated (mainly standard 8 drop outs) to interpret the message. They all focussed on the money, everyone thinking they had won.

It took time before they could get the right message. they had to wait until evening for one of the girls in a local day school to come and help out.

The excitement died down but one thing was clear, they say people are illiterate but when it comes to money, everyone notices the zeros.

For this village, it is certain that the little education comes along way, and that those who went to school feel very good. The mobile phone has given new relevance to the rural folks.

Beckyit featured in Adam magazine

When my friend Joy told me that my blog was featured in the November issue of adam magazine, i wondered what it was all about.

I had not read the new magazine and was curious to get hold of it. From the adverts, i thought the magazine would be the answer to the feminist magazines. I was wrong!

I found out that it was a balanced magazine with a "BlogIT" column that features good blogs, the bearable and the ugly.

This blog was found to be "bearable" coming second to www. mzalendo.com which obviously is good.

I think its awesome that the magazine has such a column, i think it will raise the bar and improve how people run and maintain the various blogs.

I must admit its a challenge publishing posts and hoping that people read and leave comments but then they do not. But with these kind of comments, you know that people are reading even though they do not comment.

At this year's Highway Africa conference, other more prolific and notable bloggers like Vincent Maher, Ndesanjo Macha and Daudi Were spoke about challenges of attracting traffic. I knew i was not alone.

So, even if you do not leave a comment, your visit is appreciated.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Harry poses

I challenged him to make another pose better than this...


He was still protesting.


Am not sure what we were staring at...

A visionary

yes in deed.... Albanus Gituro

Cathy and Carol

They know how to pose, i could not get the photo i wanted..

Remembering high school

We were asked which was the best pose. Fatma is an alumni of Kamuchungwa-ini day and night secondary school and was there to show off...


James thought my job was lucrative and he decided to be the competition...

Am not talking to the press!!!

"My comment is no comment" she said.......

Technology and us

At meetings, it is important to keep in touch....

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

why the process?....4

It was important to build on the common interests, strengthen them, and harmonize the voices.

why the process?....3

The process was important for various stakeholders to identify the common foundation they share; to promote access to ICT in Kenya

why the process?....2

The process was necessary- to identify ways to strengthen the lonely voices..... recognize their competencies in the various fields and the contribution to overall goals...

why the process?....1

The process identified some of the lonely voices within ICT sector- in academia, civil society, government and private sector....

why the process??

The process was started to ensure that the network does not stand alone....

Discussing ICT strategies

others chose more friendlier settings within the lodge...

Beware of private roads

Only in such areas do you get such signs. if you defy, you may have an arrow planted in your rear part of the body. But we were not going to get into such trouble now that our mission was well defined.

Fear of Chomodori farm

The land housing the lodge borders with the Delamere farm and for the sake of my dear life, i thought it was better not to go further. i could only cast my eyes beyond the horizon. i cant recall his name, Chomoldley, Komodori, Chormodrey,....among a host of others....

Night skyline...

The skyline looked great at night......

Jumping over the fence

National Geographic tells us that people go for nature walks, so i decided to venture out. it was in the evening but i wondered why the management thought i can jump over the fence. Funny.....

Discussing ICT strategies

welcome to lake Elementaita lodge. you can see it has several activities but i was here to plan how to move ICT issues forward, and engage policy makers.

Now that they don't teach horse riding in the secondary school or college i went to, i wondered how to take part in such an activity.

Enjoy the photos....

Monday, October 08, 2007

Debating E.A Telecommunications harmonization

The East African Community, in its current form, was established as a partnership between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in 2001. Burundi and Rwanda joined the Community in 2007.

The purpose of the Community is "to widen and deepen economic, political, social and cultural integration in order to improve the quality of life of the people of East Africa through increased competitiveness, value added production, trade and investment." This includes a process of integration beginning with customs union (established in 2005), moving through the creation of a common/single market, then to monetary union and finally to political federation.

Harmonisation is crucial to this process. Harmonisation does not necessarily mean that arrangements in all three countries must be the same, but that they must work together in a way which promotes cooperation and cross-border trade, and which does not favour one country or its businesses/citizens over another. The EAC Strategic Plan proposes harmonisation in many areas of economic and other activity - from fiscal and trade policy to legal and judicial processes.

Harmonisation of policies and regulations relating to communications is also proposed within the EAC. Harmonisation was an important part of the development of a single market in communications within the European Union - in which communications businesses from any one country can compete on equal terms with those in any other country within the Union. The regulatory frameworks associated with harmonisation have been very important in liberalisation within the EU.

The study which David Souter is presently working on focuses on options for harmonisation of communications policy and regulation within the EAC. It is primarily (but not exclusively) concerned with telecommunications and with services that depend on telecommunications. At this stage, it is also primarily concerned with the three founder members of the EAC (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda).

Important questions raised by harmonisation include the following:

1. What differences are there at present between the communications markets in the different EAC countries? What effect do these have? What would be the effect of removing them?

2. What are the main problems with current policy and regulatory arrangements in each country - particularly where business development and consumer services are concerned?

3. What effect would the development of a single market in the EAC region have on communications businesses and on consumers? For example:
a. What would businesses be able to do that they cannot do at present?
b. What difference would it make to consumers?
c. Would it facilitate more transactions across national borders - in ICT and other sectors?
d. Would it lead to the development of more EAC-wide ICT businesses?

4. What are the main (economic, social, political) drivers for harmonisation of communications policy and regulation? What are the main constraints?

5. What priority issues need to be addressed in the first stage of harmonisation? (In other words, what major problems faced by businesses or consumers should be addressed first on a cross-border basis?)

6. Should arrangements for market structure and regulation eventually be the same in all EAC countries? If so, over what timescale? If not, why not?

7. What institutional arrangements would be appropriate for harmonising communications policy and regulation in the region? What would be the right timescale for doing this?


Information, youth, and the challenge of infertility

Tuesday is the day for the fertility clinic and the young women in the queue have all had a challenge getting pregnant. Most of them are young, and outwardly in great shape. Not a single one looks unhealthy, or malnourished. Their faces betray a profound melancholy, the only sign that anything is amiss.

I only find out why they were standing there when I get into a conversation with an older woman standing with them. The conversation turns to the subject of family-planning and she points at the women before launching into what is for me a detailed overview of the science of contraception. She explains that years of using family planning pills and injections has brought on something like an outbreak in the numbers of women who find themselves going through great difficulty conceiving.

So extensive is the problem that the district hospital has designated a day on which the affected women get to learn more about their condition and also share information with the doctors on what is in these numbers a recent phenomenon. Ironically, the clinics are set-up much in the style of the very family-planning clinics where women are brought together and taught the benefits of birth control programs.

"So when did the rain start beating us?" I asked.

She is quick to respond: "when we deserted our values and decided to pursue sex for pleasure. Chastity is no longer valued and the role of grandmothers and aunts is now only peripheral."

Upon reflection, I wonder at how true her sentiments ring. Graduating from high school now opens the doors to a period of carefree sexual adventures. More and more, the girls who restrain themselves are seen as backward and repressed.

The problem however, is that the very society that allows and encourages young girls to give themselves up to this passion, cannot accept in that girl the consequences of her freedom. So it is that the girl must be free to have sex as she pleases, but this must never lead to pregancies. Pregnancies would disrupt her education and career, the security and support of having a partner may be denied her and the social consequences of her pregnancy in our increasingly religious society will be hard to bear. The psychological burden of ostracisation and perhaps even rejection by her family, are added to by the financial burden of caring for a child in an economy with sky-high inflation and endemic unemployment. Deprived of the social security net of the past, pregnancy is for many young girls a terrible undertaking, one to be avoided at all costs.

And so it is that we start taking contraceptive pills very early on in life. This causes our hormones to adjust, and may lead to such problems as irregular periods or in extreme cases, to prolonged postponement of the menses. But this is just a small part of the problem. Contraceptives have been blamed in scientific studies for everything from lower bone densities, strokes, heart-attacks, increased incidences of cancers and blood clots to an increased susceptibility to venereal disease.

What further exacerbates an already messy situation is the fact that unlike other drugs, these contracptives are often taken in secret, without the careful attention and constant supervision of a physician. While many can and do get away with it, there are few who can claim to have enough information to make truly sound decisions.

The challenge therefore is to appreciate the dangers of contraception and the necessity of information in deciding what to use, in what quantities and for what periods. It is not enough to be able to access this over the internet, or to diagnose oneself on the basis of the musings of a random blogger. Like with most things, look hard before you leap.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

ICT acheivers awards.......

Dear African ICT Achievers Participant

Congratulations, you have been chosen as a African ICT Achievers Finalist in the following category : Excellence in ICT Journalism

Face-to-Face Adjudication will take place from 8 -12 October 2007, at ForgeAhead offices in Rivonia, Johannesburg, South Africa. Finalists who cannot attend the face-to-face interviews will have video- or telephonic conferencing with judges. At the interview sessions, the marketing department of ForgeAhead will conduct video interviews with all finalists for media purposes. Please ensure that you are available after your interview for the video interviews. A photographer will be at the interviews to take your photograph for the Commemorative Publication. All finalists profiles will be published in the Commemorative Publication. Please note if you will do a video- or telephonic interview you must supply ForgeAhead with a Hi-Res Photograph of yourself.

Below, the interview schedule for the different categories. Please ensure that you open your diary for the times indicated. The interview session will be 30 minutes and judges will use your CV submitted online and the criteria as a guideline for questions.

KPMG, official Auditors, and ForgeAhead Research Department might do follow-ups on information. Finalists will be announced to the media at the Finalist Breakfast on 16 November 2007. At this event, certificates signed by the Minister of the Department of Communications will be handed over to all finalists. ForgeAhead will invite all finalists to the event. Winners will be announced at the Banquet in November 2007. All finalists will receive formal invitations to the banquet. A trophy and certificate will be handed over by the sponsors of the category at the banquet. The Gala Banquet will take place 17 November 2007 at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa.

In 2008, ForgeAhead hosts a Golf Day for all partners and finalists. We will send a formal invitation to you to join us for a day of golf and to launch the 2008 programme. The Golf Day is scheduled for March 2008.

Please note that each Finalist is responsible for their own travel & accommodation expenses, unless other arrangements have been made.

Interview Schedule


09h00 - 10h30, Top ICT Company

10h50 - 12h20, Top ICT SMME

13h30 - 15h00, Most transformed ICT Company


09h00 - 10h30, Top ICT Workplace provider

10h50 - 12h20, Most Innovative ICT Company


09h00 - 10h30, Top Civil Society / NGO

10h50 - 12h20, Top Public sector CIO

13h30 - 15h00, Top Private sector CIO


09h00 - 10h30, Top ICT Business Woman

10h50 - 12h20, Top ICT Business Man

13h30 - 15h00, Top ICT Educator


09h00 - 10h30, Top ICT Youth Innovator

10h50 - 12h20, Top ICT Young Entrepreneur

13h30 - 15h00, Excellence in Journalism

Kind Regards

Shirley Jacobs | Events Manager | ForgeAhead