A pupil using a Kio tablet during a class session in Kawangware, Nairobi on October 2015
(Originally published in ID4D)
African countries have never been faced with such decisive choices in the construction of a cyberspace that respects freedoms and meets the needs of their citizens. One of the continent’s main challenges for the future.
The first Internet connections in Africa arrived back in the late 1990s through geostationary satellites. Projects for satellite constellations were also set up during the same decade. At a later stage, submarine cables were installed around the continent, as well as terrestrial backbones. The first cables connecting Europe, Africa and Asia were put in service in 2002. Most recently, projects for drones and balloons have been tested and a number of submarine cables have been laid.
Un élève utilise une tablette Kio lors dans une classe à Kawangware, Nairobi, en octobre 2015. Photo par Simon MAINA / AFP
(Publié à l’origine dans ID4D)
Les pays africains sont plus que jamais face à des choix décisifs pour la construction d’un cyberespace respectueux des libertés et répondant aux besoins de leurs citoyens. C’est un chantier majeur qui attend le continent.
Les premières connexions à Internet sur le continent africain sont arrivées dès la fin des années 1990 grâce à des satellites géostationnaires. Durant la même décennie, des projets de constellations satellitaires ont aussi vu le jour. C’est dans un second temps que des câbles sous-marins ont été mis en place autour du continent ainsi que des dorsales terrestres. Les premiers câbles reliant l’Europe, l’Afrique et l’Asie ont été mis en activité en 2002. Plus récemment encore, des projets de drones et de ballons ont été testés et de nombreux câbles sous-marins ont été posés.
UnRavel is an inclusive digital platform for decentralized entrepreneurship with an online incubator and accelerator supporting young innovators globally to scale their initiatives with the support of a network of changemakers from the public, private, and third sectors.
Beautiful Morning in Paris
France is an old nation, which has been well known for luxury goods, French Riviera and its high standards education system provided in “Grandes écoles”. For a long time, these drive for excellence had an unexpected consequence because students learned there is no place for failure and want a secure job. This mindset is slowly changing because a job with a big company is not a guarantee of stability anymore and students have been encouraged to learn from mistakes. According to KPMG, a third of French students now say that they want to create or join a startup.
Government as a Platform
Building a Centralized Web Platform
Today, most of governmental bodies are online to provide information and services for their citizens. In most countries, citizens can pay taxes, request passports, birth certificates and ID cards using dedicated eServices. They can also access laws, legal notices or public datasets online.
Usually, public bodies, such as Ministries, Agencies and Commissions, have their own websites and eServices driven and maintain by their own IT or Information Department. Sometimes, they don’t have enough ressources to acquire skilled talents and buy proper infrastructures to work on their digitalization. Thus, how public bodies can handle websites and eServices development without in-house technical competencies?
A Centralized Web Platform will be an option for public institutions, which have a little web presence, to offer a common framework and hosting solution to these underprivileged institutions. This solution should help to increase security, visibility, accessibility and data processing in Governments while providing visitors with an improved online experience.
The e-Liberia office at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MoPT)
I spent 6 weeks in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, in November and December 2015 to design the eGovernment Web Development Strategy for the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MoPT). Liberia Faced 14 years of civil war until 2003 then they faced an Ebola epidemic in 2014 and 2015. Peace Nobel Prize President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf worked hard to put Liberia on the good tracks with the support of the international community and she is still in the office until 2017. There is not metropolitan fiber yet in Liberia or national fiber connecting key cities, but the ACE submarine cable is reaching Monrovia and should help to bridge the digital divide in this country.
Infrastructure as a basis of the Internet
(Orginally posted in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs)
The Georgetown Journal of International Affairs contacted me last october to write an article about open data especially in the international development context. We agreed on an article about the Impact of a Move Towards Open Data in West Africa and I spent a couple of days at the Berkman Center working on this interesting problematic. the whole article is bellow and on the Georgetown website.
I am Mitu, Co-Founder of Addis Ideas. This project is based on a mobile application that solely relies on African innovation and crowd sources African development ideas from African nationals and the African diaspora. Continue reading
The AfriBox Initiative
During my last trip to Mali, fellow technologists and I decided to create an adapted computer named Afribox, based on a single-board microcontroller such as Arduino or Raspberry pi, to bring digital educational content and games to kids. Indeed, access to education is still a big issue in West Africa and we saw the promise of inventing a kind of « old school » Nintendo Entertainment System for rural Africa. This computer could be played with pads, and used on a TV screen or a pico-projector. Below is the concept note of the AfriBox Initiative.
The Geekcorps truck in the Sahara desert
I spent two years working for Geekcorps in Mali, from 2005 to 2007, a Washington DC based NGO specialized in ICT for development. I was the Country Director and I had to manage an exiting one-year project named the Community Mobilization through Radio Technology Program funded by USAID. It aimed to set up five renewable energy community-based radio stations in the north of Mali and I spent my first year managing the program, building with my team OpenFM transmitters, building local solar panels, designing mast antennas and organizing training sessions for northern Mali communities.