If you are a jazz fan then i am sorry to tell you that you may not be on the right page. You may be looking for this link (i also love the jazz band Fourplay so i could not resist pulling this one on you)
Anyways …a few days ago i returned from a brief sojourn in East Africa.
I had a fun time in Uganda and Kenya attending G-Uganda and G-Kenya. Its always great and eye opening hanging out with software developers, especially when those developers are from other parts of our great continent.
First off let me say that East Africa is a great place to visit. From the landscape and wildlife to the people. If you are single and need a place where you can run away to have a good time on vacation (responsibly of course) , you should consider East Africa, If you are newly wed and need a place for that romantic honeymoon, you should also consider East Africa. If you have been married for like 10-15 years and are looking for a place for that second honeymoon to rekindle all rekindle-ables….again include East Africa in your plans. A note of warning to my friends from West Africa. If you ever intend to visit East Africa, either you pack your own personal stash of pepper from home, or you remember these two words : "green chilli" and repeat them several times to the waiter whenever you order food (for some reason pepper is not a standard part of east african cuisine). The life you save may be your own.
Personally i had a number of take aways from my interaction with attendees who came for the programs in both countries. I guess it confirmed to me that Sub Saharan Africa has a lot in common in terms of people who have an interest in technology.
My greatest take away was that there is a need for developers in Africa to be more internet aware. Yes the internet is great for checking emails, chatting and hooking up on social networks, but then there is more to it than that. The internet is actually a great repository of searchable information. Information that can be used to change one's circumstances in every way imaginable. For the African software developer, this means that the internet is a great repository of invaluable information on software, how it is built, what it is built with and also information on how to get in on the action and make money from building it. Developers in this part of the globe should be taught to take greater advantage of all the open resources out there (and believe me there are so many of them that its unbelievable ). Google Code, Source Forge, Stack Overflow are just a few. For those who want to understand the theory behind some of the wonderful technologies that exist out there, there are lots of information available on sites like MIT Open Courseware and Khan Academy
So why are we not using them like we are supposed to? I know the first thing you would say is that internet connectivity is a challenge in this part of the world and how are developers expected to use online resources when they cannot get online? While that is a valid question and i would agree that there is indeed a serious problem with internet connectivity in Sub Saharan Africa, i would make the following argument bearing in mind that we are talking software developers here not normal human beings (there is a school of thought that says that geeks are not human):
lets assume that there were 100 sub saharan African developers, i would be willing to bet that they all have email accounts and that 60 of them have Facebook and/or Twitter accounts. Of that number i would say that at least 30 of them either tweet, update their social network status or read other people's updates and chat with other people on the internet at least once everyday, be it using their mobile devices or desktops/laptops. But then ask these developers how many of them have heard of the websites i listed above and you would be amazed that only about 3 in 5 have ever heard of any of them , 2 in 5 know what they do and about only 1 in 5 has ever used any of them. You would find that the problem is not necessarily one of access, but one of awareness.
Why is this?
It beats me because these days almost every university has a computer science department and there are a large number of computer institutes scattered all over the place, charging an arm and a leg for a diploma or certification in one thing or another.
Could it be another clear case of these institutions handing out fish instead of teaching our budding developers how to fish for themselves in the vast ocean of knowledge that is the internet?
I wonder how many people agree with me ( i know many would disagree) i am always willing to hear arguments for or against.
But i believe i have stated my case:
It's time we took maximum advantage of the internet….that's what it's there for.
Excuse me while i reach for my sachet of pure water….typing this stuff is hot work….