Kampala

My Take on #RoadSafetyUG

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I grew up in this city, and my first experience with road carnage did not take a while, a school mate of mine, at Bat Valley Primary School was de-skinned under a speeding taxi between Little Flowers and YMCA. Needless to mention, it was the first of many lives to waste on our roads.

It is amazing but a boda boda may kill you faster than HIV Aids and Malaria! The thing is, we have to do something drastic, something disruptive if we want to see different results on our roads.

#1 – Age of Our Vehicles

We must make a conscious decision about how old the cars we let into this country are. Note that age alone doesn’t make a car less useful, but a significant percentage of the cars we import are used. Wear and Tear cannot be masked by a cute coat of paint or a new registration, we must consciously decide that this country is worth progressively newer cars that tend to carry with them newer features and technologies for safety. We need to invert the bell shape for taxation of cars around the 5 to 6-year-old mark. These cars will already contribute various taxes through regular consumption of materials (such as fuel and lubricants) and services (such as insurance and jobs in maintenance).

#2 – Road Worthiness Check for Vehicles

Every 2 years, without fail, every car in and around Kampala must attend a road worthiness check, a criterion that must be developed not democratically, but by law. We may not get it right the first time, but we have to start somewhere. Computerized checks would reveal the condition of cars – especially if they are not older than a certain age.

This certificate will not ensure less accidents, but it will guarantee that any we have will not have their effects multiplied because of the condition of the car. Still, I think that we deserve this for the future of this nation.

If you have sat in a taxi lately, ramming 12 people in the back, it is a maddening surprise that we expect people to come out alive.

#3 – Driver Qualifications

I sat a driving test, but all I ever drove was the safety of Naguru’s deserted colonial streets. I wonder if the officer who gave my test would be willing to take it to the busy highway sections of Kakira and the Northern Bypass.

Do we need a simulator for road tests, just like pilots do? Perhaps we can resort to a low tech projected mobile phone car game – because these do a better job of simulating traffic conditions on the road, far more than anything I have experienced in real life.

Then there is the occasional boda that will cut you in, and the self-entitled taxi driver who cuts you off because he keeps left.

How many hours, simulated or real, does one need before a driving license can be issued? And why do we issue 3-yr licenses to first time drivers?

#4 – Digitized Road Signage

I have seen solar powered digital road signs used during construction, and they come in handy no matter the visibility, but usually the next time you will see them is when another road section is under construction.

They work so well, use very little power, are mobile and can be deployed in the unique of the moment yet we do not use them. Every consignment for arms and riot gear should include a significant amount of these signs as the effects on the roads kill more people every month than riots ever do in the whole year.

#5 – Reputation as a Deterrent

It’s time to add to the fines. You need to pay the fine, for the offence you have committed, but you need to be a part of the solution going forward.

How can we use something so precious as reputation to drive the point home? We need to be able to withdraw driving rights and privileges – in fact we can make a mess of it by publishing offenders who we do not expect to be driving, for regular periods such as a month, 3, 6 or even 12.

Every offending driver will suffer reputational risk on 2 fronts, Suspension and Withdrawal. Every repeat offence while under suspension automatically extends your penalty. If caught driving under a withdrawal ban, you will start with Community service (directing rush hour traffic) and progress to jail.

#6 – Complimentary Services

So we can renew car insurance at the point of road worthiness check, right? We can also supply First AID boxes that are suited to a particular vehicle type, at the same check. And we can ask that suppliers of car materials provide for at least 2 year guarantee on materials such as tires. The point is, when you begin to do one thing, and you bring all complimentary services around it, so that drivers can be saved the burden of picking up services from various points.

Insurance companies should have higher premiums for cars with accidents, and should consider excepting cars driven by drivers on the permit withdrawal plan. Comprehensive premium covers should be favored over third-party covers, so that we can begin to count the medical and life costs of road carnage. Cars with regular service schedules and manufacturer guided part replacements should be incentivized.

#8 – Road Safety Investment

Now how do we invest for all these things to happen? We need a percentage of that traffic fine to go financing road safety. Your fines should contribute directly to purchase of road signs, painting of tarmac signage (did I mention community service above?) and sustenance of research and planning for road safety.

Of course this is multi-sectoral, lest an entity takes the power and control and we see exponential road fines being handed to offenders. The solution here is not to banish you beyond returning to the roads, it’s to engage more of you in the solutions to problems caused by your behavior on the road. 

#7 – Analytics and Data

Finally, we need to tie this all together in a simple data and information system – no expensive procurements, we already have the passport recognition system at the airports, and we already have barcode scanners which we can use to pull up a history. Yes, we also have 3G and 4G in many places in this city, and we can get 4G SIM cards for free (or as part of community support) from the telecoms.

If a traffic officer cannot tell my driver history within 2 minutes of holding my driving permit, and cannot tell if the car am driving has been involved in an accident before, then he has already lost the mind game, and (possibly) the moral authority to hold me accountable.

But of specific value is the level of relationships we can create from data mined by whipping up a simple information system. The devil is always in the details, and currently we lack these and are not able to make any informed management decisions.

Unless we are willing to be intentionally disruptive to the habits of drivers, and the ecosystem of vehicle operation and use in this country, we may huff and puff whenever we have a significant life-sucking accident, but may never muscle the changes we need to see, in order to save lives on the roads.

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KCCA, Stop the Sugar Coated Incompetence

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Thanks to @jameswire for this piece – I absolutely agree.

A visit to the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Website led me to read about the Directorate of Physical Planning and I saw these opening lines, “To plan the development of the functional urba…

Source: KCCA, Stop the Sugar Coated Incompetence

IDLELO7 Launch – Kampala, Uganda.

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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.

FOSSFA community and participants at IDLELO will discuss various topics that would help promote technology innovations using FOSS tools and resources. There will be capacity building sessions which would seek to empower participants at the event on the use of FOSS. Join us at the pre-conference event and learn about new developments in software and hardware, various web technologies like Javascript, PHP, Ruby, HTML, GIT, Android, and much more.

About IDLELO7

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.

SIGNED

Seun Ojedeji
FOSSFA Council Chair

Motherly Moments

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My mother was a very relational person. She knew everyone – almost. And she knew to welcome everyone. This is one of the most important lessons I will ever learn from her. To love and honor people is no easy fit. People are complicated, friends become weird and brothers fight! It is hard work loving people and remaining committed to loving them. Yet when I look back at my mother, she seemed to pull this off effortlessly.

Sunday lunch always had a guest – a friend or a relative – to catch up with. Clearly, I have not been as great at this. She would spend the precious hours of her weekend attending events, weddings, funerals, vigils, and many others. I always never understood why everyone expected her to be there all the time.

In hindsight, I wish I had gleaned those lessons in time. Now, I find my calendar at a stretch to go visit and attend to everyone. It is easy to hide your head in the sand, thinking I cannot please everyone. But am sure we all know someone who manages to be the people person – and we simply wonder, how do they do it? We all have 24 hours, how is it that they manage to make time for everyone and we just want to hoard the time for ourselves?

Gabriella’s mother is another woman I find very interesting. I am yet to observe a very hardworking woman such as this. She gets tired very often, but if there’s one thing I can count on, she is such a home maker! She has a zeal for a nice and good home; she keeps an eye for speck of any kind of mess. When its all said, and done, beds are straight, the girls rest and I get the rest!

In the 21st century, these 2 qualities are perhaps the most intrinsic qualities of a good woman, and an accomplished mother – to remain relational and friendly in the face of 5 inch mobile screens and tablets; and to remain a hardworking home maker when you could throw money at “the problem”.

I honor these women, for who they are to me but also for the example they represent for the hundreds of girls waiting to turn into women. Happy Mother’s Day.

 

In Awe… a firm foundation

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I am in awe of my City’s Executive Director, Jeniffer Semakula Musisi.

Its been 3 years since she’s stepped into office. Kampala has started to feel like a city. There’s a lot of things that have been said, about her style of work and her methods. I listened to her one day, when she pleaded her case before Kampalans – we had forgotten what the difference was, between right and wrong. We had lived for so long in a dysfunctional city, that we had become used to it.

Today, I exchanged emails with the ED, and i learned something new. In her email signature, just below her name was a scripture. So i dug it up –

Ezekiel 36:33-36 New International Version (NIV)

33 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’

Yes, its common knowledge that the ED is a bible professing christian, and so you can expect some biblical influences in her life. Uganda is said to be over 60% christian, but when you walk through Kampala, and see how we drive, and where we trash, you have to wonder if any of the biblical influences of stewardship have infiltrated our hearts.

So, this is why am in awe, that my city’s ED is influenced by a passage of scripture that brings hope to a city in ruins like Kampala! Is it the reason she fearlessly goes about her work? Indeed, Kampala is shaping up and is looking more beautiful and inhabited by the day.

The neglected land will be worked again, no longer overgrown with weeds and thistles, worthless in the eyes of passersby. People will exclaim, “Why, this weed patch has been turned into a Garden of Eden! And the ruined cities, smashed into oblivion, are now thriving!” Ezekiel 36:33-36 (The Message Bible)

Thats how the Message Bible puts it.

There is an air of hope and optimism about this city. I dont think its enough for one woman (even at the helm) to be greatly inspired to make this city liveable and thriving, its time for each one of us to ask ourselves – what will your role be in rebuilding this city? You may not be equally inspired by the Bible, but what is it you commit to do in making this city grow and prosper?

Jennifer Semakula Musisi will rally us towards a better city, but the bigger challenge is how many of us (christian or not) will choose to walk with her, as we make this city the best place to raise our children’s children!

I will, what about you?!

 

Save My City!

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So its official, Kampala might as well be called Boda Central! When you are named Banana Republic, then you can understand why so many things go rotten quickly, and why its always slippery if you step on the peels.

I am sick to my stomach, and angry at the sight of a Police Officer (Director of Operations) standing on a make shift stage, along side an unidentified man, who is rallying Boda Boda cyclists against the impending registration and re-ordering of their operation within the city; and ordering the Capital City Authority to withdraw the registration instructions.

Who is this man? Does he live in Kampala? How long has he lived in Kampala? How many Boda Bodas does he have? How much, in taxes, does he pay every year? How much has he actually paid, proof of which he has? Am just trying to establish the moral and positional authority, especially on behalf of the 3.5 million persons who live in Kampala, against which he can stand and order disobedience of a public instruction of a city authority…

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At Orange Uganda Limited

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I’m convinced, i now know how this nicely well oiled machine called Orange works. And if you think its theft, and arm twisting, i beg to differ. Its more like the shrewdness Jesus feared from Matthew the tax collector.

30th Oct, i loaded credit worth 25k, on my data sim, did not activate a bundle, went on line duly and from 3pm, to 9am the following day (not continuous usage), it was all wiped! 2 Weeks of exchanges between me and customer care yield a number of failed explanations and 2 interesting documents. The first, comes in 3 days after my credit disappears – a time stamped record of all urls accessed from 3pm on 30th, to 9am on 31st October. Total amount of data used: 0.0298 MB.

When you do not activate a data bundle, the system defaults to charging you as a mobile data user – See Cost Here – 0.9 UGX per KB. So you can understand why i had a hard time understanding that 0.0298 MB multiplied by 0.9 UGX per KB would result in 25000 UGX.

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