Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Moving the blog


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Of political terms and ICANN community

what comes into your mind when you hear the term "bridging the digital divide"? I bet its the idea of connecting rural schools with computers, government policy , mobile phones for the poor, huge donor funding and that kind of stuff.

Well, the same term appeared in the ICANN strategic plan and was quickly short down. Why? After all, there is no argument that there exists a gap within ICANN, between the developed and developing countries, especially in Africa.

The term bridging the digital divide has political connotation within the ICANN community and evokes memories of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) where the International Telecommunications Union discussed ways of taking over management of the internet from ICANN as a way of giving power to the governments.

So, you will understand the ICANN faithful when they say that the term should belong to other circles and not the mainly technical and business oriented group.

After all, most of the people who attend ICANN meetings have all the internet infrastructure needs and the idea of an unconnected business in Giathi village in Gatundu, where I come from does not resonate with them.

Maybe the idea of a country not having an internet exchange point or a non performing country code Top Level Domain e.g ,ke. .ug, .za seems remote, but these are realities in Africa.

I think the gap within ICANN for instance within the ccTLDs can be bridged through sharing resources and ideas. I recall Michuki Mwangi explained to me that Kenya got copies of root zone files because of his contacts within ICANN.

Michuki met root operators and was able to get the root zone files, which is probably why internet in Kenya is faster than in Uganda, even though we both have the fiber optic connectivity.

Michuki also benefitted from training offered by the Brazilian tech team, the guys who operate the .br registry. The Kenic infrastructure, which is open source, has heavy contribution from Brazil.

So, can the actions of Hartmut Glaser in Brazil, who invited Michuki be termed as bridging the digital divide? I think so.

In my opinion, ICANN community needs to do something, and am sure so many people here would help if they knew about the challenges and ways their technology share can help.

The problem is in the political correctness of the term "bridging the digital divide". Maybe they can come up with another term but the experiences can yield greater benefits if taken seriously.

Of course, for the global community to help, African internet infrastructure must rise from the chaos. The ccTLDs must resemble a sense of normalcy. They must sort out the issues of who operates the domains and have operational registries. Then we can start talking about ways of improving the services.

Perhaps that is the reason why we do not have many Africans contributing in the public forums; because of the apparent gaps.

Political terms or no political terms, something needs to be done. I will not stop saying that Africa needs to act but so is the global community.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Moving the blog


This is my fifth year of blooging in this space and I have decided to move to a new home.

From now on, you can follow my posts and opinions on this space= http:// www.wanjiku.co.ke

I am currently in Seoul and I can promise exciting stuff in technology and my travel diary...


Thursday, October 08, 2009

My Travel diaries..... September in J'burg

Eiiish....Shiiish....aiii...asii....that is one of the most dreaded words, especially in a job interview, it can almost imply that you are not qualisfied or you not getting the job. Even when you ask people; how do I look and they make any of those sounds, then you know something is wrong.

So, when Lebo said Eishh....which is common in South Africa, I knew she was expecting something better. She was commenting about my face, how it was just basic and did not have any foundation or make up. So Lebo owned up by saying that people come to her when they have a bit of make up.

But am not used to make up, am a village girl and my face was testament to that. Either way, I decided to do something different while in J'burg or Jozi, just to get people's reactions. So we got under way.

So this was me with the foundation. The job had just began...

Then we got to the rest of the business and at the end of it, I loved how I was looking...

In the end I had to tell Lebo that the Make over was inspired by Nadine from Ivory Coast who was Lebo's first client and I was envious.... I cant get Nadine's photo but here is Lebo...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Highway Africa Final Day-Plenary

Monday, September 07, 2009

Highway Africa Day one-Liveblog

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Digital Citizen Indaba Liveblog

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Free Wi-Fi hotspot locator in Nairobi

The other day someone commented on my facebook status that Kenyans love free things, just because I suggested that the big hotels should emulate high level restaurants and give free wi fi.

I could not answer the guy because I knew he would engage me in a long winding argument over why I should pay for internet. I would have told this guy how in Bangkok, you can catch free internet virtually everywhere including one provided by the city council. But I thought I should just shut up.

Forget about free wi fi and think of the many times you have tried to use the GPRS and it just failed because of congestion within the city; and it is the same old story.

Then I met this guy from DataDyne and we got into the discussion of where he could get free wi fi, I noticed that he needed more hotspots beyond Java upperhill and fairview. He actually suggested that this could be valuable info for tourists and other business visitors as well as those of us who love free stuff.

So, we can count down the places I know.

If you are in Westlands,

Alan Bobbe's Bistro at Andrews Apartments- Rhapta Road

For me, the Andrews Wi fi is the most stable, of course the place is very nice and Alan Bobbe's offers gatronomic cuisine which is pricy too. The place is quiet and I think they have too much bandwidth, but am not saying they should strangle it (Kunyonga).
If you have a free afternoon and would like a treat of good food and flawless internet, Andrews is the place. www.andrews.co.ke

Sarit Center

Dormans coffee house

This is on the basement on the extreme corner from Java or safaricom advantage customer care.

This wireless is password protected but you can always set you laptop to remember the network and you don't have to keep entering the password. It is super fast and stable, except in the late afternoon, when you have solar outage; common is satellite connections.

Dormans staff are basically nice and will always welcome you with a smile even when they think you are just there because of the free wi fi. With time, you also get to know the regular customers who are always there with their laptops, and with time, you start saying hi to each other and behaving like you actually know each other.

By the way, Dormans serves very nice Cafe Mocha.

Rating- ****

Java Coffee house

This is next to Safaruco customer care on the basement. The wireless is open to anyone, so your info can be susceptible to preying eyes and other malicious people, that is if you have super sensitive data.

The wi fi used to be very nice and stable but for the last three months, either they reduced the bandwidth or reconfigured their network. The network has IP address issues and at times some people access the internet and others can not.

It is frustrating when you can see others surfing and there is no way in for you. You start asking the waiters and they say the person incharge is away, which is usually a lie or a way of telling you to get off their back.

This has been a constant problem that I could see a couple of other tourists migrated to Dormans where the network is stable.

Besides, Java switche off the wi fi at about 12.30 to 2.30 to keep off idlers and serve serious spenders, which makes commercial sense but woe unto you if you were in the middle of the sentence or trying to attach a large document. Dormans is open through out.

Rating **

Westgate Shopping mall.

There are Java and Dormans Coffee houses with internet and the network is the same as above.

There is also the network known as Westgate, which is not protected but is usually up and down.

In the Central Business District

None of the Java or Dormans Coffee houses in town give free internet, for obvious reasons.

The Mug- Kaunda Street

This is probably the most stable because it does not keep going down and is not password protected.

Rating ***

Lifestyle Lounge- Monrovia street, opposite Nakumatt Lifestyle

This is bottom of the crap, can not stay up for five minutes and when it goes away, its off for about 20 minutes.
If you can, avoid this place, only for emergency internet usage.

Rating *

Ngong Road

Java Upperhill

Java Junction

Dormans Junction

I am planning to use Google maps for easier location but if you have other places you have visited and experienced their Wi fi, please leave a comment and will benefit all the others interested.

Why Equity Bank should rethink e-banking

There is no doubt that Equity bank revolutionized banking and the way customers are treated. It made ordinary men and women believe that they can own bank accounts and they do not need special permission to talk to the manager.

I think it also came at a good time when people wanted hassle-free loans. For many of us who fear giving matrimonial title deeds as collateral, Equity said that even the chicken and the cows qualified as collateral.

But now the bank has moved into the more sophisticated area of e-banking. Many Kenyan banks misunderstand or mislead us to believe that receiving SMS alerts translates to e-banking.

So, being the member I am, I finally got tired of queuing for an hour or taking time to dash to the bank when I can get the same service on the internet. So I applied for e-banking services and filled the form.

The strange part is that after two months, Equity had deducted the annual fee for e-banking but I could not access the service. They had not sent me the password. By the way, the e-banking am talking about is just the one that allows you to check balances online and monitor transactions, I am hoping I will be able to do that.

After making trips to the bank to check on it, it has left me bitter, wondering why Equity is bothering about sophisticated services it can not deliver.

I think it is only fair if the bank stops struggling to offer what it can't. For the other basic services, the bank has no problem, but for e-banking, I guess the bank should leave it out.

I guess they should say like Safaricom; if you are frustrated, just move on to the next provider!


Monday, August 24, 2009

SEACOM is here but we are still unsatisfied

It is a month since the SEACOM cable went live.

The cable company had promised how the cable was going to make bandwidth cheaper but when pinned down to explain how exactly the cost would come down, SEACOM executives rebuffed "uninformed" consumers asking them to ask their ISPs about connectivity and costs. It is ironical that a company hypes up issues and when pinned down, it points to another party.

But what SEACOM did not tell Kenyans who may not understand the tier system was that when the cable goes live, SEACOM would be the big boy at the highest level, interacting with the public data operators and big telcos and not the ordinary kenyans with limited technology knowledge.

What SEACOM did not tell us was that they are investors who are out to recoup their investments and did not care about incessant questions directed at the wrong party- after all, it is my ISP that provides the last mile solution and not SEACOM.

That is why even if the costs have not exactly come down, you can not question SEACOM because they are not involved in how you put your food on the table, whether the ISP overcharges you or does not deliver what is promised, there is nothing you can do.

Yes, KDN and Access Kenya have taken time to say how the bandwidth has come down. KDN Butterfly allegedly dropped by 90 percent and Access Kenya doubled subscribers bandwidth at the same cost. This is good news, if only you are in areas where you can access butterfly or are within the Access Kenya network.

For many people who are in diaspora, this blog post may seem unfair given that SEACOM and the others have touted this as a new era for Kenyan internet users, but on the ground, the situation is different- try using the GPRS or 3G service offered by GSM companies, its slow and where it works, its fast and you pay through the nose because the costs are still high.

You may not understand why people are bitter about the providers yet Michael Joseph, the chair of TEAMS has already indicated that the costs are not coming down soon. But that is not the story we were hearing for the last two years; they were all saying how bandwidth will come down to $ 400 per MB.

This is not a problem of the the common people who may not understand technological jargon and all that other garbage that is camouflaged as working for the consumer but in essence does not, it is a concern for techies too.

Last week there was a bitter discussion on most Kenyan technology and policy mailing list, with people wondering whether the Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Information and Communication should be compelled to resign after it became clear that the cost and quality of connectivity was not improving.

You could tell from the discussions that these comments were by people who had endured bitter disappointment by Kenyan providers. They argued that the reductions were mainly targeted for the Media, that is likely to report anything without actually testing.

There was another group that argued that you can not blame the PS for the failing of the private sector and that the cables are home, where it was promised and that the issues of cost were merely details.

One thing that you can not dispute is that the Skunkworks mailing list, which had the most discussions is the best testbed; after all, it is composed mainly of techies, the guys who will tell you whether the bandwidth quality and cost has changed to the better.

So, when the techies say they are not happy with the status of the connectivity, who can dispute? The manager who does not know the difference between the bits and bytes per second?

For the Kenyans in diaspora, enjoying the best connectivity out there, you can continue saying how it has all improved but listen to the guys who actually man the pipes and are expected to make sure the connectivity is uninterrupted.

For the interested choir members, you can continue singing how the cost of bandwidth has come down, but ask the purported beneficiaries whether the benefits are accessible to a few or to all,


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Kenya's gigolos, gay and lesbian flex online muscles...

Kenya's gigolos, gay and lesbian flex their muscles online read it here ...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Holding our breath; waiting for SEACOM, our "saviour"

Most people in Kenya are waiting with bated breath for the final arrival of the SEACOM fiber optic cable. The main day is this Thursday, July 23rd.

For most of us, we want to see whether friday will be different; whether the internet speeds in the office or at home will improve; whether the cost will be different next month.

Kenyans we are known to be optimist, which is very good, makes sure we absorb the shock very well and even when we are misled, we look at the brighter side and hope that things will improve anyway.

I recall seeing a question sent to SEACOM on twitter about what preparations that have been made with other ISPs in terms of routers and other gadgetry that an entity would need to switch to fiber and the answer was; that is a question for the ISP.

And that is very true because SEACOM is high up there and has nothing to do with the final delivery. So if you are still on your crappy satellite next year, do not say that SEACOM is here or TEAMS is there, just compel your ISP to do the needful.

For some reason I thought SEACOM would work with ISPs in ensuring that we can receive the service as soon as possible for instance, Wimax radio manufacturers enter into agreements with big telcos to supply radios at subsidized rates, which can then be supplied to customers in the chain to ensure efficient services.

So, I was expecting an answer like; we are working with this manufacturer to make sure that switches and whatever else will be available at affordable rates to ensure smooth switch over. Anyway, as they say, its the business of your ISP. But again, maybe am thinking more of my small time ISP, not the big boys.

I have also been wondering about the pricing; we are told it will be open access but the other day I read some news from South Africa that SEACOM will have the same pricing with SAT 3 in West Africa.

This made me wonder, if SAT 3 did not make a difference in West Africa with this pricing structure, what makes us think that SEACOM will do it for us?

I think am a bit pessimistic here but am hoping next week I will be writing more positive stuff.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Juliana and Rebecca

Juliana and Rebecca
Originally uploaded by Maneno.org
I think am liking this....

Rebecca Wanjiku

Rebecca Wanjiku
Originally uploaded by Maneno.org
Then there is this one posted by Elia.
Today am just going thro Flickr after such a long time.

Becky Wanjiku

Becky Wanjiku
Originally uploaded by oso
I just saw this photo fro Oso's Flickr, I liked it and I thought it should be on the blog too...
This was in Budapest last year.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

What technology can not give us....

It is strange how people; relatives and friends no longer meet as much as they used to. Weddings are no longer places to meet old friends, they have become family affairs.

Burials become more of a must, because if you don't turn up, people are going to wonder what kind of friend or family member you are. In our traditions, attending burials of family members and friends has sort of been mandatory. Not that the person will rise or fail to go six feet under because you did not turn up but its considered a measure of respect.

So, when Solo died, it was a time for friends and relatives to meet, he was a great guy, a friend who was not scared of telling us off especially when we start acting up.

He was a telecommunications pioneer in Kenya, I met this techie who told me that in 1997, Solo was probably one of the few Kenyan techies who could configure PABX and make it work perfectly.

For me, he challenged me, when I won a $ 6000 award from Ford Foundation New York when I was 21, he guided me through the motions, how to invest, make savings and to survive in the US when I went for the fellowship.
Yes he was a great guy and role model.

That is why we were shocked to learn about his death in a tragic car accident, and as usual, everyone gathered in his house during the period.

The gathering of women was probably one of the best I have been in the past. There were all working women, who are juggling their careers and families. People who are facing the same c challenges like me.

Then it came the part where those who are single, married, divorced and unlucky in marriage share their experiences. We say why we are not married and the others say why it is good or not nice to get married.

The best was when this powerful woman, a teacher who has a masters, a role model and a mother shared her experience about this guy who she was married to, and he would come home at 10pm and demand that he wants to take Ugali and Sukuma Wiki and chicken, and she would go to the shamba at night, and make the food. We were all like; how? Forget that the guy would accompany her to the shamba at night but it was not right.

Anyway, the older women and the younger married women get to share their ideas and the younger women share theirs too. It is a synergy that technology can not give us.

What we shared that night can not be exchanged via chat, website or even talking on the phone. It is a treasure of our traditional customs that unfortunately is dying off. Now when we want to talk to our role models in the village or elsewhere, we have no time to sit down and talk, we say, I will call or email you.

When people die, we just send money via mobile phones as contributions, when our grand parents summon us, we label them as nagging and backward. Yet for them, our money and accomplishments are the least of their interests, they are just interested in the time that you have for cjit chat.

I am not saying that talking to people will solve all the problems, but it will show that we are not alone; that other people are experiencing similar challenges. It is that which technology will not give us, the valuable time to improve as people.

Maybe many of us are failing to get married or marriages have failed on flimsy grounds, maybe if we heard some of the experiences, we would learn to deal with some of the issues.

Our strength in oral traditions is unsurpassed; for instance, there was a former classmate who was hessitating about his boyfriend's proposal; she thought she was too tough or they would not cope. Then a former teacher and a friend posed the question; do you want a guy who will hold your hand at the labor ward and cook for you after giving birth or a guy who thinks cooking is backward and he is better drinking with frineds and he will never know when you go into labor?

She did not need to give the answer, she just needed to think beyond the patying phase and think beyond the fun and into seriousness.

Anyway, we can read all we can and become all tech savvy but there is no doubt there is something in our oral traditions that technology can not give us.
Maybe it is good once in a while to go back to our roots.

Maybe I will make time to sit with my grandma and listen to her tantrums once in a while and share with her my challenges, which dont compare anyway.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Importance of Twitter in Africa

There is no doubt that Twitter is a global phenomenon; influencing politics and entertainment. To think that the company is only two years old, its truly inspiring.

For people who love live updates and with access to the internet, this is an awesome tool. For those in South Africa where the mobile device interface is active; am sure they are beyond happy.

But what about other countries where the internet has remained a dream? Where promises of true broadband have just been a disappointment? Where operators or companies are yet to see the need of delivering twitter updates to mobile phones? Maybe its just a case of making a business out of it.

I was happy to participate in a twitterthon championed by Computer Aid the other day. The drive was to raise the level of computer donations to Africa. The event achieved its objectives.

The most disturbing thing was that a friend of mine (I would like to think that way), wrote to me complaining that the computers are being dumped to Africa and that kind of thing. I wondered, whether that was the debate, as to whether the computers are being dumped or not, that is the responsibility of our governments to ensure that the machines are of higher standards. Kenya has imposed a 25% tax, Uganda, Zambia have banned but Rwanda is still receiving. After talking to several people in the rural areas who have been conned about the new computer schemes only to learn that they were refurbs, I like to steer clear of the debate and let the people decide. For instance; I talked to the principle at Kigari teachers college in Kenya about why they buy refurbs and she was in praise of the computer performance.

In Canada, the schools use refurbished computers, makes you wonder, how many rural schools or hospitals would be happy with that refurb. I guess the point is that the manufacturers should be made to open up recycling centers like they do in the west, then all the comps will be there.

Anyway, I digressed too much, the debate was about twitter.

How then can twitter be used to reach more people in Africa? It has to come with increased connectivity and increased awareness, that its not a tool for spreading rumors and malice but a constructive tool. You can imagine the power of twitter in a crisis situation like in Kenya last year with the post election violence.

The best thing about twitter is that you can share your thoughts, whether professional or just personal issues- it is the new way of people keeping in touch!

These are just random thoughts....

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Why I blog....

The other day one journalist asked me why I blog. It was funny because he was asking why I had not updated my blog. So my answer was; why do you visit my blog?

It was a valid question, which I never thought about. Since then, I have been wondering why I blog.

I blog in exercise of my freedom of expression; here no one can limit what I say, whether it toes the party line or not; its my opinion and it remains that way.

I blog because I love pointing out issues; mostly the ones that are not going right, just like most journalists.

I blog because it is a chance for me to vent my frustrations.

I blog because it is the only way people can learn more about various issues; not structured by the media or held down by requirements of editorial correctness.

I blog because technology is one of those boring issues that is tough for us to write about.

But most of all, I blog because I love writing!

I can go on and on........

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Africa should just stop whining!

It is considered automatic that Africa lags behind all other continents in technology adoption. So, whenever there is an international meeting African representatives find a story to tell; the digital divide.

It has become so bad that leaders just fail to do the right things and just blame it on the digital divide. The government heads fail to adopt technology and blame it on the digital divide.

Some Africa representatives attend meetings and instead of striking collaborative deals to benefit their countries; they are busy shopping or just filling numbers in the meeting rooms. And when you ask, they blame it on the digital divide.

I recall there was this guy who represented his country at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) meetings for three years, and during the time, he did not share any outcome or notes from the meeting with technology forums.

It was embarrassing that at one point, a senior government officer attended one of the technology related meetings and had no clue that hi country was represented within ICANN.

The representative had just been attending meetings and not even sharing with the tech community or government officers on the recommendations and outcomes of such meetings.

What would you call that? The digital divide?

There is no doubt that there exists a gap between developing countries and developed countries within ICANN.

This gap is specifically manifested when it comes to Africa delegates, they hardly contribute meaningfully to the public forums. ICANN deals with the names and numbers, the technical aspects but Africa is still grappling with elementary issues such as access and policy issues.

For instance; when the business group is discussing issues of e-commerce and the amount of information that should be availed online or whether the security agents should be given such information, how does someone with no e-commerce in their country contribute to the debate?

But does that mean that Africa has no place in international technology meetings? Why then does Africa fail to take advantage of some of the opportunities?

At a recent technology conference, Maua Daftari,Tanzania's Deputy Minister in charge of science and technology expressed her fear that if the Conficker worm hits Africa, it might wipe out the few steps made.
What was confusing was that I did not hear her say what Tanzania is doing to promote use of open source technology, if the the reliance on Microsoft products poses the danger she was quoting.

In some cases, innovative youth ventures have been stifled by uninformed officers heading important government heads.

I recall last year, I had an interview with Laban Mwangi, one of Kenya's most progressive and innovative techie. He shared his frustrations in trying to convince mobile phone companies in Kenya to adopt his point of sale gadget by selling to him airtime in wholesale, which he can then sell to traders in remote areas through his gadget. The idea was shared with the power and lighting company among other important service providers.

With the gadget, Mwangi wanted people to sell airtime from any company, pay water and electricity bills among other services. His attempts did not bear much fruit then.

You can imagine my shock when I entered one of the corner shops in London earlier this year and found that they use Mwangi's concept.
So, Mwangi failed to get them to adopt his technology but do not be shocked if a few years down the line, you hear that one company has been awarded a huge contract to supply what Mwangi would have supplied at a fraction. If we adopted that technology last year; we would have been far by now.

So, it is clear that Africa's appreciation of young techie minds is lacking, technocrats have specialized in attending meetings and their technology vision is blurred and most of all; we have mastered the art of whining.

We should just get the solutions and stop that digital divide song, how come Africa does not talk of the digital divide when it comes to military hardware and other state-of-the art warfare gadgets?

How comes African militaries have one of the highest budgets and are quick to adopt latest technology? Does that mean there is no digital divide in military terms?

I think Africa should just stop whining and act!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sovaya' Fake Mpesa Transactions

Ever wondered whether the websites allowing yo buy or sell via Mpesa ever work? Well, I wondered the same and decided to try out. I decided to access the Sovaya wireless and was asked the payment mode for the internet airtime.

Mpesa was the easiest for me, so was asked to send money to 0715 592168 and wait for confirmation, that is before I can surf using the credit bought. For starters, I decided to buy a shs. 100 voucher, just to test whether it will work.

The Mpesa went through without any hitches, only that I waited for 30 minutes with no response from the Sovaya side; either a text telling me that I could use the credit or saying it bounced, or a web message allowing me to surf.

So I decided to call the customer care number given, but the person who received the call could not even get my number, it took two minutes for the person to take my number so that they can get back to me.

I always get irritated when someone gives you poor service then on top of that they waste your credit because they just can get what you are saying. You repeat the number five times....first to allow them pick a pen....then the number,....and on and on...

Anyway, maybe the service is not so much in demand or not in use thats why.........

My curiosity made me lose my 100 bob.......

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day Two- role of stakeholders in ccTLD management in Africa

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ATU conference on IGF for policy makers in Africa

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Do journalists retain rights to their work?

The other day I met Tom Osanjo, a former colleague and friend, and we got into a discussion about the rights that a writer retains.

The issue we were debating was whether journalists retain any rights to the material they publish. There are two schools of thought; there are those who think that once you have written, thats it, the rights shift to the publisher.

Another school of thought holds that the journalist holds the rights and if the publisher wants to use the story or photo again, then they must pay again or something like that.

James, winner of the CNN sports journalist of the year in 2007 gave us his experience; how the organizers of the CNN awards made him sign an agreement that allowed then to redistribute the pictures.

James' argument was that if the rights are retained by the media house, then CNN would have asked the media house for permission to use. That supported the argument that the rights are retained by the writer.

That argument seemed to have preempted a debate that I would have a week later.

Today I found myself weathering a storm in a tea cup.

Sometimes last year, I participated in online discussions about the fiber optic cable and so many other attendant issues. Some of the issues were very technical while others were social-economic.

In writing an article, I went to some old drafts of the daily summaries that I had done and used the material that was summarized for the final report.

The agreement with the organizers was that I still retained rights to the material and was free to use the material so long as it was advancing the wider goals of the ICT sector.

As a journalist, the right to use materials is of paramount importance. The organization and the author did not have any problem. Nevertheless, the article rightly credited the author and the organization.

Forget about my incident, the question I asked was; what happens in those cases when somebody asks you to do a speech on their behalf, do you still retain the rights to the contents of the speech or not?

It got me thinking...... I think I still retain the rights but if someone paid me to do the speech, then the rights go to them.

But still....I think there is much to be debated....

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Evolution of Mobile Phone Thugs

I think it has become slightly safer for people to talk on phone while walking downtown Nairobi. After seeing their comrades beaten to death over cheap phones, I guess the thugs have changed tact,

But it does not mean that the thieves have abandoned their trade, they have just become sharper; the steal the phones that are more expensive.

My friend Muthoni, made us laugh the other day when she told a story of how the thugs in the estates have leant the value of the phone by the ringtone.

Her story was that there was this woman going home one day in Dandora estate, and she was passing through an alley. It was at 7 pm so there were many people walking to and from the shops, acting busy.

Though her phone was ringing, she could not pick because of the four men who were walking with her group. So the phone annoyingly rung and it was apparent that she was fearing that her phone might just go.

Put off by the ringing or failure to remove the phone from the bag, one guy said; Mama oya thimu ithuii tutiendaga Motorola (just pick up the phone we are not interested in your Motorola).

But if its a Nokia, they know the series by the ring tone and they just kindly ask you to pretend you are relatives and just hand over the phone! They even force you to hug them as they rob you in front of everyone.

Others are able to tell the kind of phone when its in the pocket; depending on the shape it projects in the pocket.

The tips are apparent; don't wear tight trousers then slide the phone in the pocket, unless you want to invite the crooks. If you can, let the phone be on vibrator or the single beep then vibrator otherwise the phone will just go.

Kenyan police and impunity.....

I wonder what will happen now that the founder of Oscar Foundation is dead. Just hours after the government spokesman said that the Oscar foundation was a front for the proscribed Mungiki thugs and their sympathizers.

Being a legal foundation- giving free legal aid to suspects- the foundation was likely to attract all manner and sorts of characters including Mungiki thugs and other goons.

Is it a crime to give legal aid to Mungiki suspects? I am not defending the members because they have raped and killed many in my village neighborhood but I also know two young men who have been shot dead and their only crime is peer influence and moving at night. When you are labeled as Mungiki, no one sympathizes.

Mungiki is a Gikuyu word meaning the crowd though there is no proper direct translation. Its use imbues a sense of community and support for each other. It used to be a sect, recruiting mainly men, pretending to practice traditional Gikuyu traditions while in fact it was a gang for hire, thriving on intimidating people by killing those who refuse to join the sect.

It is almost predictable that when the police announce or publish the names of "wanted" criminals, they are only looking for a license to kill, with no questions asked.

Sample this; the police publish the photo of a wanted criminal, that week he/she is gunned down.
It has happened consistently at least since the mid '90s when they published the photos of three notorious gangsters; Wanugu, Wacucu and Rasta. They were later caught and shot dead.

There is no doubt that the criminals deserve to be arrested or maybe die like the many they are alleged to have killed, but is it by coincidence that the criminals are caught and killed immediately the photos are published?

Is it that police tips do not work and the public tips work better, or is it just a case of seeking license to kill?

Now the blame will start shifting over who actually killed the foundation head. I will not be surprised if the government spokesman comes up with a theory that he was killed by a rival Mungiki gang.

And we talk of impunity!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Meeting Messi

How I wish I got to meet Messi (not that I care that much). But the closest I came was those fake photos that people take by the pitch side...

Football Voyage

I was in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress but I had to make sure I visited the biggest club in town, too bad they played away that Saturday, however, I think the derby with Espanyol would have been a better game....

Visit to FC Barcelona

The 3D images were so good, I struggled with the shades but hacked it. The movie was not voiced, just images of Barca greats. No matter the language you speak, after 10 minutes, we all got the gist of the club and its immense history....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quiet street on a sunday

Am not sure what this is...

It must be from one of the most interesting sculptors but am not sure what this is....

Barcelona and culture

Atlantique Telecom chooses AIRCOM for EDGE planning in West Africa

AIRCOM International, the leading independent network planning and optimisation consultancy, today announced that it has signed a deal to provide its suite of market-leading network planning tools to Atlantique Telecom, the West African subsidiary of UAE-based telecoms group Etisalat International which operates networks in six countries across West Africa.

Atlantique Telecom operates EDGE mobile networks under the “Moov” brand in the Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, the Central African Republic, Gabon and Niger. Under the terms of the agreement, Atlantique Telecom will purchase AIRCOM’s suite of planning tools –including its market-leading software products ASSET, ILSA and CONNECT – to improve the performance of individual networks by optimising each one’s RF and transmission plans. This will deliver better coverage levels and improved capacity across each network, delivering an enhanced quality of service to Moov customers.

“Our aim is to always push the boundaries of the African mobile phone market by delivering a consistently high quality of service and user experience to our Moov customers,” said Mr Mamadou Cisse, Network Quality and Optimization Director at Atlantique Telecom. “In competitive trials, AIRCOM planning tools consistently came out on top. Our choice of AIRCOM for our RF planning needs means that our engineers can use separate RF and transmission databases to deliver a single, optimised RF and transmission plan that is specific to each of our networks. By maximising our networks’ performance in this way, we ensure our customers get to enjoy the best possible service, wherever they are.”

“We’re delighted to be picked by Atlantique Telecom as its supplier of choice for RF network planning,” said Bashar Zako, MD of AIRCOM MEI. “An optimised RF / transmission plan ensures a network performs more efficiently and more effectively. This reduces running costs while also improving coverage levels, thereby ensuring subscribers can enjoy a consistently high quality user experience, whenever they use their mobile phone.”

AIRCOM and iBwave Partner for in-Building Network Optimisation

AIRCOM International, the leading independent network planning and optimisation consultancy, announces today a partnership with iBwave Solutions, the leader of in-building wireless standard software, to deliver improved in-building network planning and design solutions to operators across the globe.

The deal will see iBwave’s unique in-building wireless network design software integrated into AIRCOM’s ASSET solution, the industry’s leading network optimisation tool. It will allow AIRCOM to offer all-encompassing radio network planning and optimisation services, adding enhanced in-building functionality into its ENTERPRISE tool suite.

“In-building coverage is fast becoming one of the most important considerations for network operators, so we needed to find a best in class solution provider to help service our customers and provide seamless in-building planning as part of the radio network design,” says Margaret Rice-Jones, CEO of AIRCOM International. “It was clear that iBwave was the company to help achieve this, so we look forward working with them to strengthen our position as the in-building industry’s network solution provider of choice.”

iBwave is an international in-building software company that specialises in providing unique in-building network planning and design solutions to more than 150 customers including operators, integrators and equipment vendors across five continents. The deal will extend AIRCOM’s solution portfolio, allowing both companies to offer an integrated network solution to their combined customer base.

Commenting on the shared interface Mario Bouchard, CEO and President of iBwave says that “The mobile operator community is a key target market for iBwave and this integration is our commitment with our partners to deliver best of breed indoor and outdoor wireless networks.”

The integration between iBwave’s software and AIRCOM’s ENTERPRISE is complete and the new network optimisation indoor/outdoor feature will be available upon RF-vu’s new 4.2 version that is planned to be released on February 23, 2009

In Barcelona

Barcelona is such a nice city, am busy enjoying the food and the nights out and forgot to update the blog..... will post some pictures of nice unique architecture later....
But now...some boring techie stuff must come....

Friday, February 06, 2009

CCK, rubbish internet connection and freedom of information

It is so frustrating when you want to get information and you can not access it. If that information was blocked under the guise of the official secrets Act, then it would be easy to direct my anger to the government and maybe rally my colleagues and we take to the streets (not that it will achieve much).

But what happens when you can not access information because your telecoms provider has decided to short change you? What happens when the connection does not stay up even for a minute?
For instance, I could not read all the posts on FOI because my Zain connection is rubbish. Forget that I changed from Safaricom in the hope that it will be better. That denies me access to information.

Because I am one subscriber paying small money, the network tells me to wait or maybe move to another provider. Yet they did not say that when I was paying or when I was signing up six months ago.

What then is the role of CCK in ensuring that the services are not interrupted, that telcos give you what you pay for?
Does CCK have measures of establishing whether the Telcos meet the standards stipulated in the SLAs? I know CCK bought some equipment to do that, but is there any data available and what is being done to those who con us.

We can keep talking about freedom of information but if there are no measures to ensure that the technology allows us to do that, it is useless.

The government can have all the tender documents and all illegal dealings on the website, but if the public will not have the means to access the information, it is very useless.
It is sad when you pay for a service and you are unable to use it and to make matters worse you have no way of getting what you have lost.

CCK has a lot of responsibilities but I think it will be nice to hear that a telco has been penalized for giving substandard service.

I want to feel that CCK safeguards my interest as a consumer. That freedom is to access online services, I have paid, can I get what I have paid for?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bad news for Satellite TV in Africa as GTV folds......

Gateway Broadcast Services Board of Directors has unanimously approved a plan to liquidate the Company.

The current financial and global crisis has severely interrupted the company’s ability to secure further funding for the continued operation of the business.

The company has worked extensively with external advisors and all internal resources to investigate, evaluate and analyze strategic alternatives for the Company to further continue to operate. In determining to approve the Company's plan of Liquidation, the board and management carefully reviewed the advice and findings.

Gateway Broadcast Services, suppliers of the GTV service to subscribers across Africa has over the last 2 years invested a total of US$200 million and created jobs and competition in the 22 markets. The economic crisis that has emerged globally over the last few months has caused excessive demands on the business.

With immediate effect the service will be withdrawn.

“Increased instability in global markets interrupted our ability to secure funding on an acceptable timescale and have left us no choice but to cease operations,” said a company spokesman.

“We realise the negative impact this has had on our loyal customers, creditors and staff, all of who have believed in GTV and the revolution in pay TV it had created. We have tried every possible step to keep the company going but we are all the unfortunate victims of the current global economic crisis.”

Bad news for cable TV in Africa as GTV folds......

Gateway Broadcast Services Board of Directors has unanimously approved a plan to liquidate the Company.

The current financial and global crisis has severely interrupted the company’s ability to secure further funding for the continued operation of the business.

The company has worked extensively with external advisors and all internal resources to investigate, evaluate and analyze strategic alternatives for the Company to further continue to operate. In determining to approve the Company's plan of Liquidation, the board and management carefully reviewed the advice and findings.

Gateway Broadcast Services, suppliers of the GTV service to subscribers across Africa has over the last 2 years invested a total of US$200 million and created jobs and competition in the 22 markets. The economic crisis that has emerged globally over the last few months has caused excessive demands on the business.

With immediate effect the service will be withdrawn.

“Increased instability in global markets interrupted our ability to secure funding on an acceptable timescale and have left us no choice but to cease operations,” said a company spokesman.

“We realise the negative impact this has had on our loyal customers, creditors and staff, all of who have believed in GTV and the revolution in pay TV it had created. We have tried every possible step to keep the company going but we are all the unfortunate victims of the current global economic crisis.”

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The police helicopter....

I am not sure who it was carrying....but I was wondering why they were wasting the fuel just circling around.....
Maybe to see the level of unpreparedness.....

The more the fire...the nearer the people got..

Ever wondered why people do some things, fall down, get injured....others get a kick out of it....

The gadgets came in very handy....

I can imagine what will happen when the fiber lands and we can all afford live streaming and real broadband.....

The new face of journalism.....

If you have ever wondered where journalism id headed, its going citizen way. People are capturing images and sounds on their phones, they are no longer depending on mainstream media for information and images.
People are able to share these images via bluetooth or any other technology with their friends.

Soon, you will have people reporting for their own "citizen media", afterall, bloggers have shown the way.

It is a win for journalism and a challenge to mainstream journalists.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Then the building turned into a ball of fire.....

....and the smoke got thicker

The smoke showed that it was serious, after all, there were gas cylinders at the supermarket.
Still....the fire brigade had not marshaled its troops.....

The smoke showed no signs of subsiding....

The fire started just like a joke.....

The busy Kenyatta avenue was swamped with hundreds of people, what started as a "small fire" threatened to get out of control.
The smoke could be seen from the windows at Woolworths house and Nakumatt workers seemingly trying to control it.
It took the Fire Brigade half an hour to cross from Tom Mboya and attend to the fire. Maybe they though it was minor and that the workers could deal with it.....so much for the taxes paid to the City Council of Nairobi.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The day Mutua was booed....

Love him, hate him, Ezekiel Mutua is a tough guy. He stands up to people as they boo him and make him feel belittled.

As the Director of Public Information at the Ministry of Information and Communication, Mutua had a tough task of defending the government in the debate over the Kenya Communications Act, which has now been overshadowed by controversial media clauses.

After serious arguments between the panelists, who included deputy speaker Farah Maalim and lawyer Mbugua Mureithi, Mutua stood to speak to an already charged crowd, seemingly not ready to listen.

"It is assumed that when you join government you become stupid; what happened to all the wisdom of private sector?" Mutua asked, rhetorically I guess, though the participants answered to the affirmative.

Perhaps the crowd was hostile and intolerant because Mutua was revealing facts that no one was willing to embrace.

For instance, he said that the controversial section Section 88 has been there for 11 years and that is why it is not part of the amendments. He asked; what has changed? and people booed and heckled.

He further went on to say that the recent efforts in the name of freedom is calculated to give the big boys and media owners freedom to make money and take home between 1.8 to 2.4 million per month while the foot soldiers languish with rubbish wages.

For that comment, the participants sought to know how much he earns as director, which reminded me of Maina Kiai. He never answered so we did not get to know.

Next, Mutua cjallenged media owners to publish their editorial policies, so that the public can know for instance, if a media house is pro government or pro opposition, then is will be easier to tell.

For that, the booing grew louder......

Then there is the issue of the media council and its alleged lack of teeth to bite, ostensibly because of lack of funding.

At the end, Mutua took a few minutes to ask for people to tell both sides of the story and to always give the other side a chance to be heard.

But he told his message anyway......

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The women got to shake....

So there was this party last month in my shags and I was supposed to post some photos.
Here, the women in my shags got a chance to dance.

We love parties!!

Monday, January 05, 2009

The police: We can see you.....

If you thought you can get away with it...sorry. The police are silent but you dare commit an offence and they will puounce on you. They even have an official camera person to record all the incidences.
At least theyu will not clobber you senseless...

The most interesting partcipant...

These guys were interesting, he was in a suit and tie holding a placard, and the others were praying, in the middle of the chaos. Shows commitment.

Gaza match photos...

Palestinian match in London

The match was highly attended, with posters saying all manner and sorts of things, I am imagining Israel would have come out with e huge poster saying; WE HAVE A THICK SKIN.
I was just impressed by the amount of money that had benn put in place and the energy shown by the demonstrators.

Surely it made a point to the PM

Artificial sun....

Ever wondered why many premier league encounters dont get cancelled coz of frozen pitches? Apart from underground heating, they have artificial sun...every day...

At the Arsenal dressing room

Visiting Arsenal FC, the home of football