reBlogged from Amplify…
My dearly beloved late mother desired that I should become a medical doctor. As it were, I gravitated to computers instead. In my short professional career, I have found my place using computers — and information systems — to improve health outcomes. From the linux based African access point, to becoming part of the Uganda EMR Society, I have marveled at the way information technology is utilized in the Ugandan health system. Suffice it to say, progress has been slower than my liking. But that’s another story.
When I realised I would not attend medical school, I decided that I would pursue something closely connected. A computer science graduate, my work experience experience has spanned Netmark Nigeria household surveys to telling the story of pediatric HIV in Uganda. Along this journey, my colleagues have included architects, designers, communications specialists, and data scientists, to name a few.
Find the rest of this post on GHC’s Amplify publication.
For context, please see below:
This means that 25 computers cost 270,580,000.00UGX (In words, two hundred seventy million, five hundred and eighty thousand shillings only). The unit cost of each is: 10,823,200UGX (In words: Ten million, eight hundred and twenty three thousand two hundred shillings only.)
Now before you raise your eye brows, there are actual computers that cost this much.
Apple’s 15 inch MacBook Pro (bells and whistles + ethernet and display adapters) will set you back – minus shipping and taxes – $3257 /10.8M UGX. Build it Here. HP also has an Elite Book 1040 which is, pre tax, $3242/10.76M UGX.
Now to fact check the story, Sarah Mukasa is indeed the Vice Chairperson of the LGFC, and Dunstan Balaba is the Adjumani District CAO. This Facebook post places the news report on the morning of 10th May 2016.
Now that the elephants are out of the way – lets understand why and how the work of a District Chief Administrative Officer involves the revenue collections and why super expensive laptops particularly assist in this work. I should like to add that Uganda has 134 districts, and if we supplied 1 for each CAO, we still have a deficit of – 1,179,728,800UGX (or at the rate above, $355,340).
There are reasons why you need a super expensive laptop when you are in Adjumani or Kaberamaido – Retina Display may still be able to give you capabilities against the super bright tropical sunshine. A CAO needs to see his numbers clearly, all the time.
Also, a CAOs laptop needs to be able to process graphics akin to a graphics designer’s laptop. There would be no mistake on the actual shade of red on those state functions and we all know how the color yellow needs to remain with a banana republic integrity.
These laptops are capable of Skype (full HD, wide screen mode) and other video conferencing tools which would make it possible for His Excellence to contact all the CAOs without shipping them to Entebbe.
You know how internet connectivity can be tricky upcountry? Why should a CAO not get a device that connects to any kind of internet connection – 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G and any other G you can think of. This is strategic.
Lets also consider that with the census numbers out, every CAO needs atleast 1terabyte (1 terabyte is 1000 gigabytes) of space to keep profiles of every tax payer in their district. This is a revenue collection exercise, remember? The combined computer storage space distributed at this level of public administration alone, for the whole of Uganda would be a cool 134 terabytes.
Now, onto the small matter of a CAO doing Revenue Collection.
Why do you think this is strange? Have you not heard of collaborative synergy? URA can be in Kampala (incidentally, Kampala is not a district!) and the CAOs can be in the districts – viola – revenue collection at 100% country wide coverage! What is so difficult about this for you to understand?
Now, for the Procurement side of things – how is it that PPDA did not find more expensive laptops? I am sure that our CAOs can do so much more, with computers, than revenue collection – like managing these district portals – a Uganda Communications Commission project.
It is possible to get a super expensive laptop because it is unlikely that Uganda PPDA rules for software would have favoured Free and Open Source Software over proprietary alternatives – a CAOs computer would have a paid Operating System (Windows), that needs a paid Anti-Virus, a paid Office Suite (Microsoft Office) – at the very minimum. Add a couple of other tools in this lock-in environment and you will see that the actual computer might cost less.
There is indeed a way to acquire 25 laptops for $81500. Only in Uganda.
THE FOSSFA CHAIR SPEECH AT THE OCCASION OF THE LAUNCH OF IDLELO7
23rd MARCH 2016.
The Right Honorable Prime Minister of Uganda,
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT of Uganda,
The Executive Director of National IT Authority of Uganda,
The Executive Director of Uganda Communications Commission,
The Council, Free Software and Open Source Foundation of Africa,
Members of the African Open Source Community,
To all FOSS Developers, Users and Supporters,
My name is Seun Ojedeji (@seun_oj), FOSSFA Chair and it is on behalf of the FOSSFA community that I invite you all to IDLELO7 –
For more than 15 years, the Free Software and Open Source Foundation of Africa has held Africa’s premier open source summit, for Africans, on the African continent. We have been to Johannesburg (2006), Dakar (2008), Accra (2010), Abuja (2012), Nairobi (2014) and now we are excited to be coming to Kampala- for the 7th African Summit on Free Software and the Digital Commons which will hold in August 15th to 19th of 2016
The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) has its origin in the ICT Policy and Civil Society Workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia held between 6th and 8th November 2002. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, convener, was acting on the mandate given to it by the Bamako Bureau established by the African Council of ICT ministers in the continent’s preparation towards the World Summit on the Information Society – WSIS. As a pan-African FOSS Foundation, the vision of FOSSFA is to promote the use of FOSS and the FOSS model in African development
FOSSFA exists to:
• Promote the use of the open source model in African development.
• Promote the integration and adoption of FOSS in national policies
• Coordinate Africa’s Free Software efforts
• Use its expertise to add value to FOSS initiatives in the continent
• Act as Africa’s FOSS voice
• Play an interface role between international and continental FOSS efforts
• Contribute FOSS applications towards the achievement of women empowerment, the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development in Africa.
• Promote African FOSS expertise, creativity and industry
• Partner with development organizations who share same goals with FOSSFA
FOSSFA is incorporated (72193 C2/GB) under the Section 24 of the Companies Act of 2001 as a non-profit Pan-African organization in the Republic of Mauritius. Its members are individuals, organizations and agencies that share similar goals across the world. FOSSFA is headed by an elected council, which chooses from within itself, members to act as its executives. Every 2 years, on the occasion of each Idlelo, the Foundation hosts a General Assembly of its members to renew the mandate of the council.
http://www.fossfa.net is the official website.
What is the Open Source Model?
The term open source began as a way to describe open access to software source code and the collaborative model for how it is developed around the following principles: Openness, Transparency, Collaboration, Diversity, and Rapid prototyping.
The open source model is more than a software development model, it’s a culture. A culture that intentionally establishes an all inclusive approach to solving community problems using technology. The open source way is about applying the principles of open source software development beyond software and technology.
We can learn more from each other when information is open. A free exchange of ideas is critical to creating an environment where people are allowed to learn and use existing information toward creating new ideas. When we are free to collaborate, we create. We can solve problems that no one person may be able to solve on their own. Rapid prototypes can lead to rapid failures, but that leads to better solutions found faster. When you’re free to experiment, you can look at problems in new ways and look for answers in new places. You can then learn by doing.
In a meritocracy, the best ideas win. Everyone has access to the same information. Successful work determines which projects rise and gather effort from the community. Communities are formed around a common purpose. They bring together diverse ideas and share work. Together, a global community can create beyond the capabilities of any one individual. It multiplies effort and shares the work. Together, we can do more.
Free and Open Source Software also known as FOSS solutions enable us to work with legal and secure software that can be integrated with both older, legacy and new systems. Specifically, FOSS solutions provide access to software that can be localized, both in terms of language and specific contexts. They can also be adapted to specific organizational or project needs. Whilst uptake may yet have some challenges in the short term, IDLELO7 shall strive to plead the case for FOSS as a more sustainable and economically viable option for Africa.
IDLELO7 shall provide us with the privilege to participate and interact with a lineup of experienced presenters working on FOSS projects, platforms and rapidly evolving social network tools and applications.
Why is FOSSFA coming to Kampala for the 2016 Summit?
FOSSFA continues to enjoy a significant community of active FOSS advocates who live and work here in Uganda. The FOSSFA Council and executive has enjoyed the expertise and energy of committed Ugandans since inception.
It is the effort of these Ugandans, together with the National IT Authority that was recognized in an excellent bid to host the 7th African summit, beating strong competition from Durban South Africa, and Calabar International Conference Centre in Nigeria.
We also recognize that NITA-U has taken steps in drafting the National FOSS Policy and as FOSSFA, we are excited to bring our continent-wide experience to partner with the government of Uganda on charting the course towards a sustainable Free Software and the Open Source model.
Uganda is also uniquely placed as a leader in the region, stabilizing and pacifying neighbors. Uganda remains integral to the Great Lakes region of Africa. Two years ago, COMESA issued FOSS adoption guidelines, and now Kampala has an opportunity to lead the conversations on the review of adoption of these by COMESA member states.
The primary goal of IDLELO7 is to increase the awareness, integration and adoption of free and open source software (FOSS) in Africa within the IDLELO7 theme emphasising how such Free and Open Source solutions are being (can be) used to achieve Open Data and Open Government frameworks.
In Kampala, we expect to learn what the Government of Uganda roadmap to Openness highlights, and also what COMESA and other development partners have planned. We invite NITA-U, UCC and other entities towards FOSSFA Membership, as a sign of commitment to the Open Source Model.
We look forward to welcoming all of Africa to Kampala, this August, exactly 153 days from today. We look forward to gaining more FOSSFA Memberships from the summit in Kampala, both individual and organizational.
FOSSFA Council Chair
My Speech On the Occasion of the 7th Graduation of Greenbridge School of Open Technologies – Kampala
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I lead a team of 10, supporting ICT for Watoto Ministries having previously worked with USAID and EGPAF’s STAR-SW Project in Mbarara. Before this, I led a team of 4 managing ICT at the International Health Sciences University, work that I took up after supporting the Ministry of Health’s efforts in Health Management Information Systems as far as Rakai and Bududa!
I have been fortunate to travel this country, from Laminadera to Bunagana, from Lake Katwe to Malaba – Uganda is gifted by nature; but most importantly, this country has potential in the multitudes of young people across hundreds of communities.
My work has also taken me to Nigeria, Ghana, SA, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. I have met more young people, lived through better infrastructure and you can’t help but marvel at flying back home. It’s beautiful here.
You also cant help but see that the world out there is changing so fast, I started out in this profession when my course works would fit on a3.5 inch floppy disk – and now, only a dozen plus one years later, they are gone! You can check blood-pressure on a wearable gadget, you can study without ever being in a classroom, and my preschool kids know their way around a phablet!
Education, Health and all of life is not what it used to be. The product of education is perhaps a most interesting thing – the world now desires a knowledge worker – fast, radical, with highly relevant and immediately applicable skills. There are 2 lessons that I have learnt in the last few years that I feel are profound in my profession.
Multi-Disciplinary Technology Evangelists
You see, traditional approaches to life have changed. Wealth and economic development in the information era has now shifted to knowledge, learning and innovation, which reside in the minds of people like you and me.
The challenge is to live and thrive in a world and community that demands more innovation. And the demands are off the keyboards and app-stores that we are so familiar with. The challenge is in the slum trenches, in hospital document stores and in government departments that are straddled with archaic use, access and management of information and systems.
But who will be the technology evangelist that will take interest in health systems? Who is interested in how citizenry access open data? Who will make ICT 4 Education their priority? Because I have learned that I cannot just be a great innovator and technology evangelist, I need to anchor into a social sector in order for my technology to be felt. That is what how I attempt to define ICT for development. The defining indicators for development are immunized infants, literate children, active young people, empowered communities and informed citizens.
Which sector will you influence with technology today?
Please note that there will be no quick fixes. Success will be intentional, over time with major commitment and dedication from leaders, knowledge workers, resource mobilisers and everyone. The starting point is a generation that has in equal measure an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit which can be supported with vibrant research and training (such as at Greenbridge) as well as innovative programming delivered by governments.
Being a Young Leader
That brings me to the second most important lesson in my life, one that I am passionate about and continues to be exciting and challenging. This is the question of young leaders – you see, this is not about age, after all that is just a number – “young leaders” is much more about leading in this generation; about identifying with the issues of this generation; and about connecting with this generation in their own unique way.
How do you lead a generation that prefers a mobile screen to face time? How do you connect with a language based on shorthand? How do you inform an informed generation? Moreover, how do you “hang out” with them – at their wells and grazing grounds?
You can, if you are one of us. If we let you lead us – something we do when we know that you understand our language and can communicate with us; but also that you can uniquely congregate us around the most important issues of our time. Jobs. Opportunities. Empowerment.
To be one of us, you have got to be young – literary and at heart. But you cannot be a leader without learning the most important aspects of being a leader:
- That Leaders Eat Last – That there is a social contract we sign with our leaders, affording them all the perks, privileges and rights; in order that they will stand up for us and protect us and identify with us. If you want to become a leader, putting others first is important. Always.
- That Leadership is Learned Over Time – Its not like an instant message; like a picture download, actually it feels more like a 6 semester course, spread over the rest of your life. And no, google does not work either, you cannot google leadership. To enjoy the perks andprivileges above, you have to work for it. To be in Hon. Anite’s shoes in 2016, you ought to have started, because leadership takes time.
I believe in young people, and I believe in their empowerment. I believe in the power of education to transform a generation and in the power of a generation to transform a nation.
But you must remember this, Uganda needs young technology evangelists who are ready to permeate all of life’s spheres of influence – The Arts, Education, The Media, Religion, Business, Medicine – with transformative technology.
Greenbridge and institutions such as this seek to curve out a different mould of a young technologically apt leader – are you the one Uganda is waiting for?
Lastly, I find this Alvin Toffler quote very interesting: ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.’
Thank you for listening to me.
I knew I wanted to work with computers from as early as Senior 2, and I wasn’t contented with pioneering the computer club at my high school. Out of University my first job was far from computers, it was with children, orphaned children. They were singing their way to donations, inspiring people from other continents to provide for their needs. Those were the first seeds sowed against social injustice.
I was raised as a middle child, indeed my mother confessed to remembering me long when my diaper was leaking. Single mother, a house wife, I grew up in 7 suburbs in this city, and never in our own home. Those were the second seeds of consciousness to social injustice.
When I stopped looking after children, I was opened up to the world of health information systems – there I saw numbers. 327 HIV positive mothers; 45 malaria cases; any number you can name, we probably have a health statistic for it. On a computer screen, they are numbers, but in the field, they are people. Children, Mothers, Fathers – wasting away because there are no drugs; alas, there are no medical professionals to attend to them.
Now I couldn’t go back – it was not just a 3rd seed sown, it was time to be part of the solution.
We know that for people like me, ICT professionals, opportunities for us are scarce because our backgrounds are outside of healthcare. How do I use my unique skills in global health? At the same time, for those who work in traditional health fields, a lack of community with people (and professions) like mine limits collaboration, knowledge sharing and support.
GHC believes that a global movement of individuals and organizations fighting for improved health outcomes and access to healthcare for the poor is necessary in order to change the unacceptable status quo of extreme inequity.
GHC provides opportunities for young professionals from diverse backgrounds to work on the frontlines of the fight for global health equity.
In 2008, the Ministry of Health estimated that abortion-related causes accounted for 26% of all maternal mortality. This proportion is considerably higher than the World Health Organization’s estimate for Eastern Africa (18%)
In 2011, Uganda had a maternal mortality ratio of 438 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births—well above the average of 240 per 100,000 among all developing countries. Many of these were unsafe abortions. According to a survey of 1,338 women who received post-abortion care at 27 health facilities, on average, Ugandan women paid 59,600 shillings (US$23) for their abortion procedure and any treatment received prior to arriving at a health facility.
If you have lived in this city most recently, you may be familiar with civil servants who “erroneously” earn 96 million shillings a month (that’s about: $35500/mo; $222/hr), and you may have heard that our development partners are redirecting aid, and in some cases it will make the difference between a pregnant mother being tested for HIV and placed on option B+ or not… literary affecting our national dream for an HIV free generation.
In 2012, an estimated 168,000 women in Sub-Saharan Africa died from pregnancy and birth-related causes; 62,000 of these women did not want to become pregnant in the first place. Fully meeting all need for modern contraceptive methods would have prevented 48,000 of these deaths—a 29% decline in maternal mortality.
Every shilling spent on family planning/Contraception will save more than 6 shillings in post-abortion care services averted. The cost of providing contraception in Uganda for one year has been estimated at around UGX 57200/= per user, while the overall cost per case for treating post-abortion complications is UGX 340,600/=.
96 million shillings would provide 1678 Ugandan women a year’s needs for contraception. What else can it do now?
[The entire stipend needed for all of us 65 fellows this month!]
In this room, there are young professionals from all walks of life. You are here because you decided to be available for the Global health Movement. Something tagged at your heart and you answered the call. I challenge you, stay at your post. Remain present, remain engaged, and remain plugged. It is young people like you who are going to make a difference in the way we think about the future of this continent.
There are also partners, and the organizations where new fellows are going to be placed – you have made available room and board, time and space to tap into the passion in this room. I urge you, open up more doors; there are a lot of young unemployed (and indeed unchallenged) graduates who are willing to get their hands dirty. GHC has proved it, because the growth remains visible, next year, there will be more than 150 fellows!
Where do we go from here? This is Step #6 in how GHC Works: Fellows collaborate, Grow as leaders, Deepen Impact BEYOND the fellowship year.
Let’s see, my good friend Edward heads to Mbale to serve local communities with microfinance, as the country director for Spark MicroGrants; Cassandra has left Kyangwali Refugee community for medical school in the US – she’ll become a doctor soon enough. Brian? I will lead a team of ICT professionals – you can guess how they will turn out in a year – Global Health advocates! Many of us are going to do different things.
But oh how we are changed. How the fellowship has given us new eyes, I will never look at a health stat and not imagine the people represented; I will never lose consciousness of the health challenges of my community. I have not just grown professionally – learning what PMTCT is and the technical language around HIV and AIDS, I have also been intellectually stretched, when debating interventions for young people, and debating with my class about aid cuts and their impact on health. These discussions have made me grow, but perhaps more profoundly, I now question my own values, ethics, and motivations for engaging in this movement.
Joan, go and be a star! Brian, one year from now, you will be more than just a world changer. Sam, there is room for ICT professionals like you and me in the movement for Global Health Equity!
You and I, all of us have got to remember, we are part of a global community of emerging leaders to build the movement for health equity. We are building a community of change-makers who share a common belief: Health is a human right.
Once a Fellow, always a fellow!
Sundaram A et al., Documenting the individual- and household-level cost of unsafe abortion in Uganda, International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2013, 39(4):174–184
 Adding It Up: Costs and Benefits of Contraceptive Services—Estimates for 2012, New York: Guttmacher Institute and United Nations Population Fund, 2012.
 Vlassoff M et al., The health system cost of post-abortion care in Uganda, Health Policy and Planning, 2014, Vol. 29, pp. 56–66
This week, #ela14 takes place at the fancied Munyonyo Resort, 12km south east of downtown Kampala. eLearning Africa is the largest gathering of elearning and ICT supported education professionals on the continent. And it happens annually. I attended Cotonou 2 years ago and Dar es Salaam prior to that. I can confirm that if elearning, online learning and ICTs for education interest you, this is a great place to be. So lets examine a little what kind of Ugandans would attend elearning africa – Teachers of ICTs, University ICT departments, elearning Service Providers, Policy makers from the Ministry of Education, and a ton of exhibitionists – software vendors, technology vendors and as always, a number of schools looking to attract support from represented donor agencies. The potential to network gainfully is enormous, as this conference averages 1400 professionals over 3 days!
Last year in Windhoek, Namibia, 86% of the participants came from African countries. It is not clear how many came from within Namibia. That would be an interesting statistic, because as the ICT Association of Uganda has already lamented, the conference fees for the category ‘African Nationals based in Africa’, stands at €380 (an equivalent of Ushs 1,350,000 – One Million Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Shillings.) To get the context right, this figure represents about 4 times the net salary of a primary school teacher, and about the gross salary of a university teaching assistant!
I have had the honor of serving in a senior management position at a university, and facing the National Council of Higher Education. Particularly, my interest was tweaked when an NCHE representative asked the University to guarantee that elearning students would access their courses – either by providing internet access to the hosted learning materials and/or providing the means (read gadgets) for the students. Access to the internet remains a critical factor in any online and elearning venture. 3 years later, I am happy to note that overall access to the internet in Uganda has increased – but that is to the outside. It is still not clear what the national policy for elearning is – I hope this conference will bring us to the table.
Within Uganda, one of the hugest drivers for elearning will be the Research and Education Network for Uganda – RENU. Over the last 8 years, RENU has gone from a concept on paper to become a driving force in promoting research collaboration between institutions of higher learning in Uganda and beyond. Through its mission, RENU hopes to promote knowledge creation and sharing amongst scholars and researchers through the provision of advanced network services. The realisation of RENU’s vision and mission is closely intertwined with elearning and online learning. RENU seeks not to create superstars, but a network of like minded centres of excellence in research and education.
Online learning (and indeed, some aspects of elearning) present a new problem for our age-old standards. MIT, Harvard and Berkeley have Free Online Courses -the question is, and appropriately for this day and age,if i covered 15 online courses, from various providers, totaling enough credits for a degree, would I be awarded?
Is the Uganda National Examinations Board (as well as the National Council for Higher Education) ready to accredit and honor hours spent learning online?
I have also scoured the Uganda Ministry of Education website for any policy documentation on elearning and i did not find any. Does that explain why the chief hosts are the ministry of ICT and the Uganda Communications Commission? I appreciate, the role of technology in elearning but i also sense that the leading policy body for education, at an event hosted by the ‘Government of Uganda’ – the Ministry of Education is on a long leash.
This year’s theme, ‘Opening Frontiers to the Future’, is one that calls to mind, what we would like elearning and online learning to be like – when our children’s children go to school. Uganda – what is your frontier to the future of elearning?