Uganda

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.

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

Your Child Is Stupid, For Our School

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Last week, I interacted with a young bespectacled Kenyan girl – she is attending school in my neighbourhood, a proud P.7 candidate. Her testimony, was of being able to score above 95% in a couple of exams and 92% and 94% in the other 2 subjects. 

She was happy particularly because she felt that this set of mock exams, taken from another school, was harder than the set of exams of her own school. She went on to say, she would like God to give her wisdom to get the other 2 subjects above 95% because her teacher mentioned to her its the new passmark for getting a distinction. 

My jaw could not drop lower. She must be 13 or thereabout.

She went to narrate how her school takes pupils that do not score high grades to other schools for PLE. Apparently, Kampala based schools would like to maintain the impression of a perfect scores, so they offload pupils who are scoring 3rd and 4th grade marks to lower schools where they “fit” in the demographics. For these schools, these students will taint the scorecard, and cause their annual classification to dip when the UNEB comes reading the top 5 schools in each district. 

How and when did we get to the deep echelons of such selfishness? And why is the future generation of this country being made to feel that they are inadequate just because they will skew the scores?

Parents, you need to be wary of a school that has no children in 3rd and 4th grade listed on their P7 lists for the last 10 years, because as we all know, academic brilliance is a normal binomial distribution – there will be quartiles, on either extremes. 

I went to Kibuli Secondary School and i know that even the creme de la creme of post primary institutions, inspite of their very best selection efforts, still land, atleast in good time, students who cannot remain as good as their 4, 5 or 6 aggregates scored at PLE. 

What are we doing to our children? All these teachers who are clamouring for more, for themselves, when silently they are depriving our children of the right to fail – because as we know, and much later in life, failure is a much celebrated ingredient of success. Why do we make our children feel bad because they did not score 95%? 

Parents, why do you accept to live under the pressure to pay extra fees to one teacher, so your child can miss their rightful term holidays and weekends? Is it really true that this one teacher will make your child pass? And when that teacher gets hit by a boda boda? Then what, you will move on to pay the next teacher who promises your child a 4? 

Why would you expect this teacher to be doubly motivated to help a handful of children pass just because they pay an extra 100,000/= , and get to miss out on their weekends and holidays? If this is what the teacher needs, why don’t we work through the PTA (Parents’ and Teachers’ Association) to motivate all the teachers in the same school so that other children who cannot afford this can also benefit from such a teacher? After all, isn’t sharing caring?

I cry for the children who are moved from one stream to another, and one school to another, and eventually get knocked out of a school because their grades are considered not good enough by the very administration whose job is to increase their confidence and ability to tackle academic and life challenges. For these children, failure will always be a mark on their faces, painted by the system we pay.

I am sick to my stomach that we let such culture take root in our feeble education system. 

I am ashamed for the parents who walk out of the headteachers’ offices convinced that their children are not good enough to sit their final exams at a school they have patronised for the better part of 6 years. 

I am angry at the idea that you drive back home and find the words to package that hope shattering nonsense, and unwittingly become the postman for your child’s new found future – a future that says they are not good enough; at least not good enough to sit in the school they have sacrificed early morning for all their lives. 

This same school, when the results are out, will pay a premium fee to the press, for an advert that says they had 90% first grades, and the other 10% were second grades. They had no 3rd and 4th grades. Oh how conveniently magical!

Humanity’s Public Library

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At Outernet256, we believe that free access to information is a human right. The Internet has dramatically enhanced our ability to exercise this right, but unfortunately most humans cannot access the Internet. Today, over 4.3 billion people cannot connect to the Internet at all and another roughly 1 billion people have their Internet connections censored or monitored. A world where only 20% of humans have truly free access to digital information is unacceptable. That is why we support the creation of Humanity’s Public Library, an initiative by Outernet.

Outernet broadcasts a data signal from satellites that is free to receive anywhere on Earth. While this is not an Internet connection, it is a free stream of critical information. What information is considered “critical?” You decide.

Outernet256 and Creative Commons Uganda are co-hosting the first edit-a-thon for Humanity’s Public Library on July 18-19 2015, at Victoria University, alongside #MozFestEA to decide what is included in this library. Anyone on Earth is encouraged to participate – details on how to have your voice heard in this process can be found at http://editathon.outernet.is. We want to encourage our users to submit their own work and to submit content from Outernet256 that is licensed for redistribution. One such work is this very blog post. Copy these words and post them on your own blog and let’s all gather together and build a #LibraryFromSpace.

This blog post is licensed under CC0 and is free to be distributed and edited without restriction.

My Speech On the Occasion of the 7th Graduation of Greenbridge School of Open Technologies – Kampala

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to share my life and thoughts with you. GreenBridge

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.

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.