Barcamp-Kumasi 2011 On April 16, 2011.


Bar-Camp Kumasi 2011

BarCamp Kumasi 2011 is a networking event to bring people together for a day of discussion, demos and dialogue about Kumasi, Ghana and beyond. It will consist of user-generated sessions and discussions. BarCamp Kumasi 2011 will take place on April 16, 2011 at Royal Lamerta Hotel in Kumasi, Ghana.

 

Under the theme: Developing a hub for regional integration.

BarCamp Kumasi ’11 is a FREE event for anyone who is interested in using their skills, talent and resources to benefit Ghana and Africa as a whole.

The BarCamp Ghana team has successfully organized six BarCamps in Ghana. Barcamp Ghana is a project being run by the GhanaThink Foundation, an NGO based both in Ghana and the USA. A BarCamp is a user-generated conference (or unconference). Barcamp Kumasi 2010 was organized at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology on September 18, 2010 with the theme – “Collaboration: The key for opportunity and development“.

Register/RSVP today at the BarCamp Kumasi eventbrite website. You may also contact the BarCamp Kumasi team through this website for sponsorship opportunities. If you are interested in organizing a breakout session, let us know, especially if you have special needs. To follow the discussions online via Twitter; use the hash-tag: #BCKsi or #BarcampKumasi.

BarCamp Kumasi 2011 is sponsored by Royal Lamerta Hotel, National Service Personnel, National Society of Black Engineers (KNUST chapter)GhanaThink FoundationFienipa Group, etc. Our media partners are Kapital 97.1 FMFocus 94.3 FM and ModernGhana.com.

Register at http://barcampkumasi11.eventbrite.com/

See you there!

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EduNet Africa Conference 2011 – Lagos, Nigeria


From June 07 – 08, 2011; a group of young, enthusiastic  and tech-savvy Nigerians are putting together a technology-focused event dubbed: EduNet Africa 2011 aimed at –

“Exploring the Opportunities of a Connected Tertiary Institution to Pioneer Digital Revolution in Africa.”

About EduNet Africa:

EduNet Africa conference is the leading internationally recognized conference for Higher Education community in Africa. It is being hosted annually in different tertiary institutions across the continent. This event is meant to create an environment to learn, network with stakeholders in the ICT industry,  share ideas that will enhance the effective use of the internet facilities and the new technologies in the Universities and Institutions of higher learning in Africa.

One of the unique features of EduNet Africa Conference is the opportunity it offers African Start-ups to showcase their product and services through the African Startups Showcase (ASS) at the event. African Startups will have opportunities and exposure to venture capitalists, partnership, loans, grants, scholarship etc. at the conference. They will be given opportunities to be part of International events like the World Summit Youth Awards organized by the United Nations.

 

EduNet Africa Conference 2011

Objectives

-To explore the opportunities and possibilities the internet, mobile and new technologies provide within the academics in the areas of e-learning, business, communication and social changes (ICT4D).

-To educate and empower our teaching, learning and Training community with Internet education that will improve the quality of teaching, learning, e-collaboration, research and development in Africa.

-To spark up “net-preneurship” and digital revolution in Africa by creating opportunities for our institutions to develop applications that will compete favorably globally. It is an event that encourages African Startups through the African Startup Exhibitions.

This would  serve as the largest gathering of leading IT Professional in Africa who have interest in the educational sector, Internet based professionals, Service providers, Web strategists, Equipment manufacturers, University dons, students; this offers the best opportunity to network.

Speakers:

Speakers include; Professor Charles Uwadia – University of Lagos; Ms. Dorothy K. GordonKofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, Ghana; Guy Berger – Rhodes University, South Africa; Sarah Chiumbu – Wits University;  South Africa; Professor Raymond Akwule -Digital Bridge Institute, Nigeria; Engr Titi Omo-Ettu -ATCON, Nigeria; Chris Uwaje – ISPON, Nigeria and a host of others.

 

Who Should Attend this Event?

-Senior and young academics and researchers from universities and Higher Education Communities.

-ICT coordinators and Managers. Media, PR and Brand experts, Digital Marketers

-Education administrators, Consultants and training practitioners

-Corporate training and Development Executives, company representatives

-Technology and Service Providers, Content providers, Web Masters, Publishers

-Web and Mobile application developers

-Entrepreneurs, Startups & anyone interested in leveraging the opportunity the internet providers.

Registration for the event is online via www.edunetafrica.com

 

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Opinion: Roger Stewart On The Current Situation In Ivory Coast


Roger Stewart; a native of Los Angeles but originally from Ivory Coast shares his opinion on the current situation in the West –African nation of Ivory Coast.

American media have largely ignored the nasty civil war in a West African nation that was once a model of success. Our best hope is a quick end to the power struggle.

I woke up Friday, read the news and prayed that it was some sort of macabre April Fool’s Day joke. Unfortunately, that was not the case. This is one of the worst times in the history of Côte d’Ivoire, a beautiful West African nation that was once a model of economic success.

Yet I can’t seem to find any news from someone reporting directly from Abidjan. Why is it that all news is reaching the United States via Ghana, Johannesburg or farther away? I, for one, want to know what is actually happening on the streets, and what I hear through my own sources, via e-mail and on Skype from terrified friends in Abidjan is much different from what I read in newspapers and online.

Ivory Coast Crisis Worsens

The U.N. presence is severely limited and largely ineffective in protecting the people. As the rebels got closer to Abidjan, security disintegrated. Currently, there is widespread killing and looting by those on both sides of the conflict, but the rebels are clearly the current aggressors. I get reports of bodies being left on street corners, and homes burned and looted. Cars are being stolen then loaded up with armed rebel fighters; while tiles, furniture and anything not nailed down is carried off on foot. The U.N. and French soldiers have evacuated foreigners but have left the Ivorian people to fend for themselves. For those who fled weeks ago, there is no telling what they’ll return to — if they even choose to come back.

The international community, with unprecedented speed, proclaimed Alassane Ouattara the winner of last November’s election, but the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to surrender his office. So now that it appears Ouattara may finally become president, why are the international forces not protecting the Ivorian people in the same manner that they defended the Golf Hotel? Does it matter which side is doing the killing? I suspect that there are enough atrocities to go around. But the international community becomes complicit when it fails to protect all.

It has long been known that African journalists run the risk of being “burned” if they print something seen as offensive to either side. Many foreign journalists face the same type of reprisal. Previous firsthand reports from the Associated Press have now stopped. I’m told it’s because reporters fear for their lives and are in dangerous neighborhoods, unable to move. Other reporters previously on the ground left last week. This is because; unlike in Afghanistan or Iraq, there are no embedded reporters, or a reinforced “green zone.”

So when I read that Gbagbo supporters had released and armed prisoners from a local jail, I was appalled. I’ve since heard from numerous sources that it was in fact the Ouattara rebels who released and armed the prisoners. The credible Reporters Without Borders has confirmed this.

For months, we’ve heard and read stories about the plight of refugees fleeing to Liberia. Yet I hear of bus stations in parts of Ghana serving as de facto Ivorian refugee camps. But there are no news reports, and certainly no U.N. assistance. I have to ask, why is this?

So now, if you care anything about this country or its people, you have to consider, what is down the road? As I write this, nothing is resolved politically. There is no real endgame in sight. But I did read about how cocoa prices are starting to fall again, and the optimism is based on the pending Ouattara takeover. I understand business interests putting out these types of stories. But can we please get some real firsthand reports out of Abidjan? Can we please get more calls for Ouattara to control the rebels — if he even can at this point? Just think, if this had been done back in November, Côte d’Ivoire would not be suffering the agony it is now enduring.

Original story here: The Roots

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Google Launches New African Tech Incubator – Umbono


 

Cross-linked at Future Challenges Organization‘s blog

With the current state of innovation spreading across the African continent; what we need exactly as social entrepreneurs and change-makers is the space to network, share ideas and work on projects that become businesses and profit-making ventures. I’m very happy to say, this space is here for the African Tech Community as at today.

Google has chosen South Africa’s Cape Town as a pilot township for its new technology incubator called Umbono which aims to bring together seed capital, Google mentorship, angel investors, local tech stars, social entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Africa's Newest Incubator - Umbono

According to Google:

the incubator is in keeping with its ongoing commitment to foster innovation in Africa and it will help selected startup teams transform their ideas into companies.

The Umbono program lasts for 6 months—enough time for your team to get your idea formally off the ground or to prepare your existing business for its next round of funding. The Umbono program will help transform your vision into a business. Your idea – probably web or mobile deployed – is exciting on many levels: for your future users, potential investors, and for the people on your team building it.

Teams should expect to receive a minimum of $25,000 and a maximum of $50,000. Capital from Angel investors will be exchanged for equity (10%) and will be governed by standard terms of investment (the same terms for each team).

Teams will also have regular access to our extensive network of business and technology experts, many of whom are Googlers. All team members should be able to legally reside and work in South Africa in order to apply to the program (regardless of their citizenship).

Google is also collaborating with the Silicon Cape Initiative and the Bandwidth Barn, to ensure that Umbono’s teams are well positioned to succeed.

Applications are available on the Umbono website from March 18, open to all South African residents. The deadline for first round applicants is April 15, 2011, but the website will continue to host applications for all interested candidates. To learn more and apply, go to www.google.co.za/umbono.

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Is the UN’s Approval For A “No-fly zone” On Libya An Euphemism For War?


Cross-linked at Future Challenges Organization‘s blog

Heads of States, World Leaders, NGO’s & Civil Organizations around the world are vigorously debating the recommend-ability of establishing a No-Fly Zone resolution to stop the violence unfolding in Libya.

One might want to ask. What is a “No-Fly Zone“? In short and simple explanation:

A no-fly zone (or no-flight zone) is a territory over which aircraft are not permitted to fly. Such zones are usually set up in a military context, somewhat like a demilitarized zone in the sky. (Wikipedia)

If you cast your mind back, somewhere in the mid-90, Rwanda faced a similar situation where Former President Bill Clinton later expressed regret for not acting to save innocent Rwandan lives. Looking at the whole MENA (Middle East & North Africa) revolution today, the stakes in Libya today are more appropriately underscored by the tragedy in Iraq during the Persian Gulf War some 20-years ago.

 

United Nations Security Council Resolution

Earlier yesterday, the United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution authorizing a No-Fly Zone over Libya and other military actions against Libya as the President Obama administration worked to ready plans to enforce this action with help from the Arab and European allies.

UNSCR was backed by 10 countries, enough to pass it this law, while 5 other countries – including Russia, China and Germany – chose to abstain. None of the UN Security Council members voted against the Resolution.

In addition to a no-fly zone, the measure opens the door to any actions short of a ground invasion to halt attacks that could result in civilian fatalities.

The U.S. government has faced criticism for not moving more aggressively to help the rebels trying to topple Qaddafi, but has finally obtained international support for this effort. The measure passed just as Colonel Qaddafi warned residents of Benghazi, Libya, the rebel capital, that an attack was imminent.

The United States, France and Britain pushed for speedy approval because Muammar al-Qaddafi‘s forces are advancing toward opposition-held Benghazi. The Libyan leader vowed Thursday night to oust the rebels from their eastern stronghold.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said if the resolution was approved (now approved), France would support military action against Qaddafi and his forces within hours. The U.S. said it was preparing for action.

According to Susan Rice; U.S. Ambassador to the UN;

“This resolution was designed to do two important things; Protect civilians as well as strengthen the pressure on the Qaddafi regime through a substantial tightening of sanctions.”

Also, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said; a U.N. no-fly zone over Libya

“requires certain actions taken to protect the planes and the pilots, including bombing targets like the Libyan defense systems.”

Questions worth pondering over for comments and opinions:

What does this new resolution mean for the innocent Libyan people? Is this the step in the right direction? How long will this resolution last? Why did some countries abstain from the voting process? What is the future of Qaddafi & his forces? Would this force him to resign?

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Database of Social Conflicts in Africa Launched.


ongoing conflicts would map

Image via Wikipedia

Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas. and also an affiliate of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin; Idean Salehyan announced the launch of the Social Conflict in Africa Database (SCAD)

The database is a resource for conducting research and analysis on various forms of social and political unrest in Africa. It includes over 6,300 social conflict events across Africa (including North Africa) from 1990 to 2009, including riots, strikes, protests, coups, and communal violence. By tracking forms of conflict not covered in traditional datasets on civil and interstate war, SCAD gives policymakers and researchers new tools to analyze conflict patterns.

The Social Conflict in Africa Database (SCAD) will provide information on over 6,300 social conflict events across Africa, including strikes, riots, protests, coups and communal violence dating from 1990 to 2009.

For more information; access the database here also the press release can be here too…

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Ghana’s Influential Women Celebrated on Int’l Women’s Day


The 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day was celebrated all over the world on March 8th, with lists of top women featuring powerful women, celebrities and other well known personalities.

Hundreds of events occurred not just on that day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Ghanaian women were not left out of this important day.

Series of events took place which lead to bloggers and civil society organizations in Ghana expressing their opinions/comments on their various platforms.

In Ghana, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs mandated that the Day should be commemorated with the Ghana Women of Excellence Awards Scheme which saw the First Lady; Her Excellency Ernestina Naadu Mills been the Guest of Honour.

The Awards Scheme was on the theme “Empowering the Ghanaian Woman for National Development” which in essence was to motivate Ghanaian women to strive for excellence in their various walks of life …and to take their rightful places in the national development process.

The scheme formed part of the celebration of International Women’s Day and the 1st Awards ceremony which was held at the Accra International Conference Centre yesterday, 8th March 2011.

Ghanaian Blogger & Bar-Camp Activist; Ato-Ulzen Appiah; author of “The Vim Views & Versions – Blogs of a MIghTy African” blog did an interesting and a well detailed post (with winners/awardees) on the ceremony which saw Dorothy Gordon; Director of Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT been honored for her role in ICT in Ghana.

 

Dorothy K. Gordon - DG AITI-KACE been awarded

Also, in an interview blog-post by co-founder of Nandi Mobile: Edward Amartey-Tagoe interviewed Farida Bedwei; the author of “Definition of a Miracle” as his International Women’s Day contribution article.

Farida got diagnosed with cerebral palsy and in a community where people suffering from this disease are routinely misunderstood and viewed as incapable of contributing meaningfully to the society; Edward decided to feature her by way of seeking answers to some questions from her.

The CS Monitor of which I occasionally contribute to; also had a self-explanatory article by Ariel Zirulnick which touched on, “What International Women’s Day was all about!

A list of 50 Inspirational African Feminists (pdf) from Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah of African Women Development Fund saw a couple of Ghanaian & other African women doing great things, have achieved success in their own ways and are impacting the lives of many others in their communities and beyond.

Below; I highlight on some of the Ghanaian Women who made it on this list:

  • Professor Abena P.A. Busia : Rutgers University – Uniquely blending feminist activism with creativity and academia
  • Professor Ama Ata Aidoo : Author/Mbaasem (Women’s Words) Production of outstanding African feminist literature
  • Angela Dwamena-Aboagye : Ark Foundation – Operating the only shelter for survivors of Domestic Violence in Ghana
  • Boakyewaa Glover : Writer/Blogger –  Contribution to a renaissance of African women’s writing
  • Dr Rose Mensah Kutin :  Abantu for Development – Demonstrating stalwart leadership on women’s issues
  • Lucy Mensah : Women United Against Aids in Ghana (WUAAG) – Establishing the first HIV& AIDS women only support group
  • Professor Takyiwaah Manuh : Institute of African Studies (University of Ghana) – Dynamic social activism and contributions to academia especially around women’s rights
  • Yaba Badoe : Film Maker/Writer – Directing and producing ‘The Witches of Gambaga’ Documentary, a powerful visual account of the abuse, and exploitation of women accused of witchcraft

Even though, the original list doesn’t include Estelle Akofio-Sowah; I believe she deserves a spot and a mention when Influential Women in Ghana mentioned.

  • Estelle Akofio-Sowah: Team Lead – Google Ghana: Leading a team of Technologists from Google Africa to shape the future of ICT, Internet Policy Fomulation and Mobile internet in Ghana and Africa as a whole.
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Ghana To Holds First National Internet Governance Forum


Prof. Nii Quaynor, Member of the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) of the UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is convening the First Internet Governance Forum in Ghana.

The theme for the forum is “Internet as a catalyst for change: access, development, freedoms and innovation”, the recently adopted theme for the global IGF

 

Internet Governance Forum Logo

Other key themes to be covered in workshops include:

  • · Internet Governance for Development (IG4D), Chair: Ms Dorothy Gordon, DG AITI-KACE
  • · Managing Critical Internet Resources, Chair: William Tevie, DG NITA
  • · Emerging Issues, Chair: Ernest Brown, President GISPA
  • · Affordable Access and Diversity, Chair: J. Peprah, Dir Regulatory Administration, NCA
  • · Security, Openness and Privacy, Chair: Charles Aboah, NSC
  • · Youth and Internet Governance issues, Chair: Godfred Ahuma, Internet Society, Ghana

Special Guest: Minister of Environment, Science and Technology – Hon. Sherry Ayittey

Keynote Address and official Opening of Ghana IGF by Ghana’s Minister of Communications, Hon Haruna Iddrissu

About the Internet Governance Forum

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a multi-stakeholder forum for policy dialogue on issues of Internet governance. It brings together all stakeholders in the Internet governance debate, whether they represent governments, the private sector or civil society, including the technical and academic community, on an equal basis and through an open and inclusive process. The establishment of the IGF was formally announced by the United Nations Secretary-General in July 2006 and it was first convened in October / November 2006.

About Ghana Internet Governance Forum

The first IGF in Ghana funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa is a collaboration between the West African IGF Consortium, Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in ICT, Internet Society Ghana Chapter, GhNOG, GISPA, and GARNET. The Event is supported by the National Communications Authority (NCA), and hosted by National Information Technology Agency (NITA).

The forum will afford the opportunity for dialogue with key stakeholders from civil society, business, government, academia, the technical community and researchers to discuss issues regarding the governance of the Internet in Ghana and ways of promoting and strengthening the local multi-stakeholder process.

Invitation to attend event

WHAT: Ghana Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

WHEN: Friday, 11 March 2011 at 8:30am

WHERE: at the Ghana India Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in ICT, Opposite Council of State

The forum will afford participants the opportunity to dialogue with key stakeholders from civil society, business, government, academia, the technical community and researchers to discuss issues regarding the governance of the Internet in Ghana and ways of promoting and strengthening the local multi-stakeholder process.

Hope to see you there….!!!

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Ghana’s Vice Pres. John Dramani Mahama :: Wired For Freedom In Africa


His Excellency; John Dramani Mahama. Vice Pres. of Ghana

Ghana’s Vice President; John Dramani Mahama wrote a brilliant article which touches on many issues including democracy, IT proliferation, and the forward match to freedom in Africa. It also delves a little bit into the continent’s past to shed light on the present and to make a case for the future.

I fully endorse the content of the article as representing the aspirations of the African people at this point in history.

Below is the full text. Enjoy & share your comments/opinions.

************

As Egypt undergoes a change in power, Ghana’s Vice President; John Mahama explains how digital technology has energized the quest for change across Africa.

Watching the Egyptian crowds as they listened to a speech by their now former President, Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak, who had been in power since the assassination of Anwar El Sadat in 1981, only confirmed what is becoming more and more obvious: that for Africa there is no going back to the way things were; the only way we can move is forward.

But Egypt is only the latest evidence of this trend. Any astute observer is aware that the desire for democracy is spreading through the African world like a contagion.

In 2010 there were at least a dozen presidential democratic elections in African nations, places like Guinea that hadn’t had an election since 1958. In 2011 there are scheduled to be nearly two dozen presidential elections in various nations — including Egypt, which is currently in the midst of what could most certainly be called a people’s revolution.

Though the methods being employed by protesters can be alarming at times in their ferocity, the demand for freedom itself is not altogether surprising. Just as there were signs, over a half century ago, foreshadowing the collapse of colonialism on the continent, there have been signs recently pointing toward the end of an era of dictatorship. What is, however, most fascinating about this inevitable death is the pivotal as well as provocative role that digital technology is playing to bring it about.

For the most part in recent times, we Africans have taken our requests for democracy to the polls, not the streets. Unfortunately, in some nations, that has not resulted in any real change. And ultimately, that is what sparks all revolutions: the urgent, non-negotiable need for sustainable change.

When Tunisian authorities in the city of Sidi Bouzid seized Mohamed Bouazizi’s unlicensed produce cart and the unemployed computer-science graduate set himself aflame, it took no time at all for that act of protest to turn into a trending topic. After Bouazizi’s self-immolation, the youth in Sidi Bouzid took to the streets. Because of the broadcasts of a single satellite channel, the world watched as those young men displayed their rage and frustration — and a hashtag (#Sidibouzid) was created.

The final condition to create this perfect storm was, of course, the WikiLeaks release of classified U.S. State Department communications, revealing that even the ambassador of one of the nation’s strongest allies shared the beliefs of most Tunisians about their leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali: out of touch, surrounded by corruption, determined to stay in power.

It’s no wonder that when protests began in Egypt, one of the first measures authorities took to quell the burgeoning insurrection was cutting off all access to the Internet.

No Facebook; No Google; No YouTube; No Twitter; No WikiLeaks. Also cut off were SMS and BlackBerry Messenger services. And satellite television as well — no Al-Jazeera.

In December, I made my first official visit to Egypt as Vice President of Ghana. I met with the Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, and toured the Smart Villages High-Tech Park in Cairo, where more than a hundred technological companies like Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard are housed. I was impressed with how fully Egypt had embraced IT and thought that they might even serve as a model for other African countries. In many ways I was right to assume that; of course I had no idea that the example they would set with technology would be the attainment of social justice.

Repressive regimes thrive on ignorance — the ignorance of their people, and the ignorance of the outside world. For too long, the image of Africa has festered under the haze of the Western world’s ignorance and its resulting apathy. A relevant example of this is the unofficial annexation of Tunisia, Algeria and the continent’s other northern nations, for reasons of race alone, to the Middle East. (Though the majority of Egypt’s land mass is in Africa, a portion of that nation, the Sinai Peninsula, is in the Middle East, making it transcontinental.)

Africa is, and has been for the past several centuries, a continent of artificial boundaries and of divisions constructed along the lines of race, class, tribal and ethnic grouping — divisions cleverly constructed for the purposes of conquering. It is an infrastructure that, by design, lends itself to dictatorship, to the powerlessness of the masses.

It wasn’t so long ago that if you wanted to post a letter from Ghana, a former British colony, to any of the countries that border us – Côte d’Ivoire, Togo or Burkina Faso, all former French colonies — it would be routed through Europe first before finally arriving at its destination. The same was true of telephone calls, and it was virtually impossible to travel by air from one African country directly to another. Now all you need to be connected via computer or mobile phone to anyone anywhere in the world is a signal.

A little over a decade ago, as Minister of Communications, I was privileged to be part of the process of deregulating and liberalizing the previous monolithic state-owned telesector in Ghana. Initially, people did not understand the new technology and were hesitant to embrace the monumental changes that seemed to be required. Mobile telephony as a communication tool was, for all intents and purposes, in its infancy, and only a privileged few had access. Looking back now, I can feel only a sense of satisfaction in seeing how telecoms and ICT have exploded not only in Ghana but across the continent.

Every year since 2000; the Internet population in most African countries has doubled. Over the past decade, the spread of telecommunications and ICT in Africa went from below an average of 3 percent teledensity to a whopping almost 50 percent.

“Knowledge is power, and information is liberation,” Kofi Annan, former United Nations secretary-general, has been quoted as saying.

Mobile phones and the Internet are liberating Africa in a way that even independence from colonialism could not. Digital technology is redefining our political landscape and will continue to do so in ways that we have yet to even imagine.

What makes digital technology such an ideal tool for social and political empowerment in the formation of new democracies is the fact that it is ever changing; new media and applications are constantly being produced to meet the shifting needs of users. When President Mubarak shut down the Internet in Egypt, Google and Twitter joined forces to create “Speak to Tweet” to help people circumvent the block and post their tweets.

History has shown that when it comes to the fight for freedom in Africa, as one nation goes, so goes the entire continent. I am hopeful that now democracy will ultimately prevail in Egypt. The people of Africa deserve to live with dignity and in peace, to have their voices heard, to be free.

Perhaps then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama said it best when, in his presidential-campaign speeches, he noted:

“Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change” especially when they are armed with the unifying force of digital technology.

His Excellency; John Dramani Mahama, the Vice President of Ghana, is on Facebook. Visit his page here:Facebook page.

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Watching the Egyptian crowds as they listened to a speech by their now former president, Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak, who had been in power since the assassination of Anwar El Sadat in 1981, only confirmed what is becoming more and more obvious: that for Africa there is no going back to the way things were; the only way we can move is forward. But Egypt is only the latest evidence of this trend. Any astute observer is aware that the desire for democracy is spreading through the African world like a contagion.

 

In 2010 there were at least a dozen presidential democratic elections in African nations, places like Guinea that hadn’t had an election since 1958. In 2011 there are scheduled to be nearly two dozen presidential elections in various nations — including Egypt, which is currently in the midst of what could most certainly be called a people’s revolution.

 

Though the methods being employed by protesters can be alarming at times in their ferocity, the demand for freedom itself is not altogether surprising. Just as there were signs, over a half century ago, foreshadowing the collapse of colonialism on the continent, there have been signs recently pointing toward the end of an era of dictatorship. What is, however, most fascinating about this inevitable death is the pivotal as well as provocative role that digital technology is playing to bring it about.

 

For the most part in recent times, we Africans have taken our requests for democracy to the polls, not the streets. Unfortunately, in some nations, that has not resulted in any real change. And ultimately, that is what sparks all revolutions: the urgent, non-negotiable need for sustainable change.

 

When Tunisian authorities in the city of Sidi Bouzid seized Mohamed Bouazizi’s unlicensed produce cart and the unemployed computer-science graduate set himself aflame, it took no time at all for that act of protest to turn into a trending topic. After Bouazizi’s self-immolation, the youth in Sidi Bouzid took to the streets. Because of the broadcasts of a single satellite channel, the world watched as those young men displayed their rage and frustration — and a hashtag was created.

 

The final condition to create this perfect storm was, of course, the WikiLeaks release of classified U.S. State Department communications, revealing that even the ambassador of one of the nation’s strongest allies shared the beliefs of most Tunisians about their leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali: out of touch, surrounded by corruption, determined to stay in power.

 

It’s no wonder that when protests began in Egypt, one of the first measures authorities took to quell the burgeoning insurrection was cutting off all access to the Internet. No Facebook; no Google; no YouTube; no Twitter; no WikiLeaks. Also cut off were SMS and BlackBerry Messenger services. And satellite television as well — no Al-Jazeera.

 

In December, I made my first official visit to Egypt as Vice President of Ghana. I met with the Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, and toured the Smart Villages high-tech park in Cairo, where more than a hundred technological companies like Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard are housed. I was impressed with how fully Egypt had embraced IT and thought that they might even serve as a model for other African countries. In many ways I was right to assume that; of course I had no idea that the example they would set with technology would be the attainment of social justice.

 

Repressive regimes thrive on ignorance — the ignorance of their people, and the ignorance of the outside world. For too long, the image of Africa has festered under the haze of the Western world’s ignorance and its resulting apathy. A relevant example of this is the unofficial annexation of Tunisia, Algeria and the continent’s other northern nations, for reasons of race alone, to the Middle East. (Though the majority of Egypt’s land mass is in Africa, a portion of that nation, the Sinai Peninsula, is in the Middle East, making it transcontinental.)

 

Africa is, and has been for the past several centuries, a continent of artificial boundaries and of divisions constructed along the lines of race, class, tribal and ethnic grouping — divisions cleverly constructed for the purposes of conquering. It is an infrastructure that, by design, lends itself to dictatorship, to the powerlessness of the masses.

 

It wasn’t so long ago that if you wanted to post a letter from Ghana, a former British colony, to any of the countries that border us – Côte d’Ivoire, Togo or Burkina Faso, all former French colonies — it would be routed through Europe first before finally arriving at its destination. The same was true of telephone calls, and it was virtually impossible to travel by air from one African country directly to another. Now all you need to be connected via computer or mobile phone to anyone anywhere in the world is a signal.

 

A little over a decade ago, as minister of communications, I was privileged to be part of the process of deregulating and liberalizing the previous monolithic state-owned telesector in Ghana. Initially, people did not understand the new technology and were hesitant to embrace the monumental changes that seemed to be required. Mobile telephony as a communication tool was, for all intents and purposes, in its infancy, and only a privileged few had access. Looking back now, I can feel only a sense of satisfaction in seeing how telecoms and ICT have exploded not only in Ghana but across the continent.

 

Every year since 2000 the Internet population in most African countries has doubled. Over the past decade, the spread of telecommunications and ICT in Africa went from below an average of 3 percent teledensity to a whopping almost 50 percent.

 

“Knowledge is power, and information is liberation,” Kofi Annan, former United Nations secretary-general, has been quoted as saying. Mobile phones and the Internet are liberating Africa in a way that even independence from colonialism could not. Digital technology is redefining our political landscape and will continue to do so in ways that we have yet to even imagine.

 

What makes digital technology such an ideal tool for social and political empowerment in the formation of new democracies is the fact that it is ever changing; new media and applications are constantly being produced to meet the shifting needs of users. When President Mubarak shut down the Internet in Egypt,

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How To: LIVE-Blog or Tweet From A Global Event/Conference!


Whiles in Johannesburg, South Africa; Live-blogging from the “Sub-Saharan Africa Freedom of Expression & Internet Workshop”; a colleague whom I’ve known for a long time, joined twitter not long ago and I’m sorry to say; not too ICT-inclined sent me a message on Facebook asking;

What are those stuffs you keep saying on Twitter? What is RT? Where do you get your links from? Do you have any special protocols that you use? Is this very difficult to do? How exactly do you go about LIVE-blogging from global events? I’m sorry to bother but I really want to become like you. Thanks.

 

@MacJordan & @dotKwame Live-blogging from #TEDxYI

This isn’t the first time, I’ve received such a message; therefore I took it upon myself to write a post covering: LIVE-Blogging from Events/Conference and Workshops/Seminars.

CEO & Founder of Web4Africa; David Ajao once said;

“It looks like; Twitter was specially made for him (Mac-Jordan) because; the speed with which he tweet/update is just too awesome.

I won’t call myself a PRO in this New Media field yet as I’m still learning from my mentors (Erik Hersman, Jillian C. York & Ethan Zuckerman). I’m just very passionate for anything new media that helps in information dissemination in real time. Below are some ideas that should get you started to LIVE-blog from any event or workshop you find yourself.

Pre-Event Preparations

  • Get Accreditation / Press Pass: In recent times, more PR & Media companies are beginning to treat and recognize bloggers & social media activists as “New Media Press”. If your intention is to cover the event for your online audience; be sure to emphasize your reach, influence and network effect.
  • Wi-Fi/Cell Coverage: Be very sure to check on the presence of Wi-Fi at the venue. Ask whether the venue has either free Wi-Fi or strong cell reception. Make necessary provision for internet modems from any of the Telcos in case there is no Wi-Fi or internet connectivity.
  • Confirm The Hashtag: As opposed to creating your own, ask the conference organizers if there is an official Hashtag e.g. (#MFA10Maker Faire Africa 10; #BCGhana Barcamp Ghana; #FC_Org – Future Challenges Org; #GVOGlobal Voices Online) for the event. If they don’t understand the words coming out of your mouth and think a “hashtag” is some sort of drug label, feel free to get creative.
  • Configure Your Applications: Whether you intend to use your laptop or smart phone, please be sure to pre-program your tools (such as TweetDeck, HootSuite or Twitterrific) with the appropriate hashtag.
  • Bring Your Charger & Power Plug(s): I know this one is painful and it’s happened to me more than once. (I traveled to  Casablanca, Morocco on the invitation of a friend to attend & share my views on New Media & Development in Africa; & I totally forgot my chargers. That is not happening ever again). Do not forget your charger(s). Make sure, you bring all of your gadget chargers from laptop; Digi-cam & smart-phone.

Live At The Event/Conference

The keynote is about to begin and it’s time to get to work. The Chair of the event is ready! What’s the best way to cover the event?

  • Be A Back-Log Flower: Like it or not, most traditional conference attendees will think you’re being extremely rude by clicking away during the presentation. Shy away from the front tables and instead choose a spot toward the back of the room. You’re more likely to find power plugs and won’t disturb those around you.
  • Set The Stage: Just like BBC/CNN, your followers may tune in to your Twitter stream at various points throughout the day. Level set with a tweet or two every few hours that describes the event’s purpose, location and name. e.g. (Tweeting LIVE from Bar-Camp Ghana in Accra. Follow us for more with the hashtag: #BCGhana)
  • Share Live Photos: There are various photo sharing apps on the micro-blogging platform these days. Take a snap of the conference whiles in section and attendees; share it on Twitter via either Twitpic, yFrog or Plixi
  • Use Attribution: If someone says something interesting, either use “– per [name]“, actual quotation marks and/or a reference to their firm. If you don’t explicitly state the source, your followers will be confused and may take the statement out of context.
  • Follow Others: Check the hashtag with some level of frequency to determine if anyone else in the room is covering the event as well. This is a good way to connect in real life and potentially divide and conquer across simultaneous tracks.
  • Perpetuate The Conversation: Although this can be difficult, watch for those statements that triggered interest among your followers. To the extent possible, reply to their comments, re-tweets and thoughts during breaks or the sessions themselves.

Post-Event Wrap Up

The curtain drops and another event is in the can. Now it’s time to head home and make sense of it all. What’s next?

  • Measure Your Success: Use sites such as What the Hashtag?! to find some amazing statistics on the event, including the number of tweets, contributors, tweets per day, re-tweets and the like. This helps to justify your impact the next time you ask for a free conference pass.
  • Blog Content: For the past three events I covered, nearly every cogent thought and worthwhile nugget was tweeted. Upon my return I used tools like Twitter search to revisit the hashtag driven-content as source material for my blog posts.
  • Thank Your Hosts: If you want to be invited back, but sure to tip your hat to the hosting organization. This is another no-brainer that I have seen my new media colleagues neglect time and time again.
  • Thank Your Followers: Also thank those who participated in the conversation and helped get the message out. Remember that without them you wouldn’t be there at all.

If you follow these simple rules I’m confident that conference organizers, your fellow attendees and online followers will be pleased with the results.

Did I forget anything? I’m very sure; there are other wonderful ideas with LIVE-blogging from conferences/events; please share your tips and tricks and let’s keep the conversation going.

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