Africa

Leadership Of Virtual Communities

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(Notes from an Open Session, held at IDLELO 5, Abuja Nigeria, 19th March 2012.)

Working with people we do not know, or see, only talk to them virtually. Nnenna, introduces her self and talks about nnenna.org, a privately run consultancy that has no office and yet maintains a full-blown services for its clients. Work happens in the Virtual Realm. Meeting and working virtually has the advantage of running the least administrative costs.

She is not alone, and as the group warms up to the discussion, we learn about a systems administrator, events manager and a systems administrator. Here are some experiences of virtual workers:

Evelyn Namara shares her experience as a virtual systems administrator, who worked on skype, dropbox and docs, while working with Tactical Technology Collectives (TTC) in Kampala, Uganda.

18.5 yrs as a University Librarian from Federal University of Nigeria, another gentleman is intent on merging virtual library with the manual physical library. He is convinced the ICT Sector does have the solution he needs…

UNESCO Abuja’s National Program Officer for Communications and Information – Oluseyi Soremekun is also eager to see if their information needs can be made Virtual. He contends that the power of information and its access to, by Nigerians is a great need and that ‘virtualization’ of work might have to be a solution.

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KONY 2012 – Take 1

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OK, so I have just watched the first 10 minutes of the Video and I must say am impressed with this guy’s work. Ironically, i was listening to a “Friday Panel of Journalists” on KFM 93.3 last evening, and I was unimpressed with Chris Obore’s anger towards America in general, not to mention Timothy Kalyegira’s typical conspiracy theorem alluding to minerals in Karamoja and Black Gold in Bunyoro, as the real keys to the interest that the americans now have in Northern Uganda.

Granted, I would shoot Kony on sight, and ask Ocampo to have a field day trying his body, am sure that too is a criminal. But that’s me. Human, as they come. But so are the children that Kony has displaced, all these years. So are the mothers without lips, who saw their babies head-smashed on trees. How can i forget the van of students from Jimmy Sekasi institute of catering that was set ablaze on the roadside? Or the pots in the junctions, from which limbs were boiling, and an entire village fire razed, in a night of terror? How could i forget?

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COSS and Linux Training

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Happy New Year to all of You.

Its been a very hot entry into 2012, from Kampala, and the heat could not have been multiplied by the excitement that comes with knowing Africa’s premier FOSS gathering – IDLELO – is round the corner. Its a great time, as my last experience ushered me into the world of Linux and FOSS on the continent, paving the way for what has now become my life and bread – Linux Systems Administration, Training, and Advocacy.
Last year, I introduced COSS, and one month into this year, its great to share with you our challenges, and experiences, and what we would like to see happen this year. Perhaps you will be tickled to become a part of what we are trying to achieve.

2011 Highlights:
Closure of EACOSS (But NOT death of FOSS in Uganda – March 2011), LUG Meeting that featured a discussion on FOSS Training; COSS Founding and Opening, Launch of Website – July 2011, LPIC Level 1 – 2 exam labs, Oct – Dec 2011; COSS at TECHFEST – Nov 2011; and a little known possibility of a merger with a local firm.
 2012 Outlook:
LPI’s Linux Essentials – Manual Writing, Launch; More LPIC Labs; that Merger; More LUG involvement; Partnerships and Projects; IDLELO (See Above); E-Learning at COSS (See Here).

Our experience has been that, we have learned from the best, and as a result, we can be very good with our planning. But the real place the rubber meets the road, is in the numbers of Ugandans who are willing to walk into COSS as ask for a Linux Certification. We have great presence within the Kampala LUG but even that is not enough to convince the converted, when it comes to certification. So our strategy, as anticipated for 2012, is to target employers of Linux Professionals. We want to find out from them, how do they tell what “3yrs Linux Experience” really is, and how can we help. But we also think, lets not teach old dogs new tricks, lets go to the schools, where the children are, lets see how to get into Primary and Secondary Schools with Linux.

When you have no riding Government Policy (despite CIPESA’s efforts), and no big name firm backing you, its hard, even harder when you have a day-job. Though our priorities are right, its time to ask interview panels, whether they are qualified enough themselves, to tell if the new recruit has the right Linux Skills. And we want to be there for both. Moreover, its time to ask ourselves, are we ready to leave our desk jobs, to move FOSS Activities and FOSS Training into the 8-5 slot, and the replace the rest else where? Are We?

What about the economics of FOSS Training?
How much is enough to cover your training skill set and time? And how much do you take home, if the company has got to grow? What if its just a TOT requirement, with not much enforceable follow up, what’s the motivation to return home and train others? You have to love FOSS enough, to give off a few freebies…afterall, its FOSS.

Finally, you have to wonder, Are Africans really interested in FOSS? Yes they are, i think. How much they show that is a story for another time.
So, hopefully we meet sometime this year, and we talk about your FOSS experiences, but until then, i wish you the very best of 2012.