All posts by Victoria Wenzelmann

AfricaHackTrip on TV

Deutsche Welle TV’s globalization magazine Global 3000 has produced an episode using some of the material we brought back from the AfricaHackTrip. So some of the African Hackers we met and their projects are being introduced to a wider audience – w00t w00t!!

Here are the full episodes in English and German.

Watch it on TV

If you are like me and want to also watch it on TV rather than only on your computer: There are various broadcast times, as the DW program is shown all over the world.

The German version premieres on TV tonight at 22:03 and is repeated five times over the next two days on German TV and again on DW Europe – check here for more info on that.
The first broadcast of the English version will be at 21:30 UTC, so 23:30 in Rwanda, 0:30 in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, 14:30 on the Pacific and 17:30 on the Atlantic Coast of America. There are repeat broadcasts every day of the week in English, German and (I think) French, and there should be subtitled editions in various languages soon.

The clips are also being syndicated, for example to German economic newspaper Handelsblatt.

More than just an episode: AfricaHackTrip. The Movie

We are super excited to be featured – but the episode is just a few minutes, and there are so many more stories to tell, places to see and people to meet! Which we can’t wait to do in our very own movie! So once more: Please support our campaign on Indiegogo!

Because Basti is awesome, he live hacked a Bitcoin App called Bitgogo yesterday during the Interactive Cologne, so now you can also donate in Bitcoins!!


AfricaHackTrip @ GIG_rp14

Last week, we were part of the Global Innovation Gathering GIG at re:publica, the biggest digital society conference in Europe. And it was a phantastic week filled with what we like best: meeting people, sharing experiences, building communities and starting projects!

The GIG. Photo by Brian Ndyaguma

What the hack is this GIG?

Actually, this video by Richard Schut (the man with the questionmark) sums it up real nice:

GIG with support from BMZ and GIZ offers the only opportunity (as of yet) for the people behind creative spaces and tech hubs from all over the world to come together, share, exchange and connect. GIG is a brainchild of Geraldine De Bastion - beautiful and creative connector of worlds, director of the film “Made in Africa” and a member of the AfricaHackTrip family! Thank you!

Geraldine De Bastion, heart of GIG

And the Global Innovation Gathering was exactly that: Over 40 people from 18 countries met, shared experiences and stories, started projects, built stuff at the Makerspace and a community of friends whereever they were. Many of the GIG 2014 were hub managers, community managers or founders of coworking spaces, but there were also the people who make the magic happen in the background, like Jörn & Tiemo from icehubs, Tayo from the AfriLabs network or Bill & Ben from VC4Africawho connect start-ups and investors, actors and mentors. And then there were the partners, people like us or our friends over at FounderBus and GeeksGoneGlobal.

Lounge & Makerspace & Stage

After a team-building Monday, the GIG program took place in and around our very own trailer a.k.a. the Home of Awesomeness (Thanks a million, Gary!), at a Makerspace inside the big hall of re:publica, and on Stage 6 which was dedicated to GIG on the last day of re:publica.

Gary Wright, in charge of the GIG lounge trailer

Gary Wright, in charge of the GIG lounge trailer

GIZ Management Board Member Cornelia Richter opened the GIG with a brief welcome message and long discussion on possible new forms of international collaboration to better respond to global challenges.

She sat down with the audience and really listened to the comments, like Jon from The Office in Rwanda asking international donors and investors to look for opportunities they can invest in rather than problems they can solve. That’s exactly what we set out to do, and we are super excited about how the discussions started will continue and shape global development cooperation.


Claudia Richter from GIZ @ GIG lounge

And that was the beginning of 3 days of tinkering and talks. Among many others, Martha told the story of Nairobi Dev School, Fabian shared the experiences of the first FounderBus in Africa, and at the very end of Day 1 we told some Tales from the Road that AfricaHackTrip took in 2013 and beyond - here are our slides.

On Day 3, the GIG moved to Stage 6 and had some really inspiring sessions there. The one that moved and impressed me personally most was Bilal’s talk on makerspaces in the MENA region. The projects he presents are at the intersection of coding, tinkering, art, civil society and just humanity – like this “map for your ears” of car bombs that went off in Baghdad since the Americans left or Good For the Dead, where you can commemorate loved ones by good deeds. Bilal himself and the projects he works for show how a positive attitude can change even the most negative situations and how we can create a beautiful future together.

Another favourite was the discussion of some African Webmuses – namely, Clarisse from Hehe, Nanjira from the iHub and Martha from Nairobi Dev School – pointedly called “Don’t talk to Women in Tech about Women in Tech”. This is a really interactive, lively and informative discussion between the panel and the audience on all the issues that women in tech have to deal with, in Africa, Germany and everywhere.

And finally, last but not least, there was me sharing the big stage with Fabian and Faruq to talk about synergies of travel and innovation, of how it takes personal contact to really meet someone and start a great project. I could kick myself, but I forgot to mention our fundraising campaign – so to make up for that, here’s the link: Please do support us! We all need more HackTrips, so more people can experience the magic of meeting like-minded hackers, makers and world changers!

See you soon – somewhere!

And then after re:publica had ended with another party, GIG continued with a day of touring the coworking spaces of Berlin with this group of great people. But at some point, it was really over. I was exhausted and energised at the same time by all the new ideas, thoughts and people, and the experience of connectedness. That was really the greatest thing about GIG: the people. Everybody got involved, everybody was part of the organisation, brought their ideas to the table, lent a hand when needed, we all had lots of fun and enjoyed some phantastic PartyMachen – while at the same time, we could discuss serious issues and come up with creative solutions for them. It was the most positive and constructive atmosphere I have ever encountered at a conference, very much like AfricaHackTrip actually..  And like on the trip I feel like I said Hello to strangers on Monday and Good-bye to friends on Friday.

So to sum it up, I’d like to quote Victor, one of the people who founded NairobiJS during AfricaHackTrip, who said “I didn’t know these people existed, and I’m so glad we met now.”

EuroHackTrip! #AHT15?
Be a part of AfricaHackTrip!

For us, it feels like a circle has closed – and like a spiral, a new and bigger circle has opened up. Last year, we pitched the idea of nine hackers travelling from Europe to Africa to 10 strangers at the Global Innovation Lounge, a small stand which the organisers of re:publica had built in the middle of the buzz of this big conference. This year, we gave a talk together with our now dear friend Martha from Nairobi, and we talked with 40 friends lounging in deck chairs in the sun. How will re:publica be in 2015? I personally hope that we will share the panel with the guys from EuroHackTrip and talk to 100 people about how HackTrips are the perfect way to connect communities all over the globe.


The last of our slides asks #AHT15? and we have heard some pretty good ideas already – let’s talk more, everybody! Be a part of AfricaHackTrip!

Be a part of AfricaHackTrip!

Today is a big day for us: We just launched the crowdfunding campaign for our movie on Indiegogo!! W00t w00t!! 

We returned from Africa with awesome new friends, lots of stories to tell, thousands of pictures, and 30 hours of video footage. We want to turn this footage into a great movie, so we can share our experiences with communities all over the world and motivate others to join the exchange between cultures. To do this, we need time and professional support.

And that’s where YOU come in! Please help us raise $7,000 to cover our production costs, so we can introduce you to exciting places and awesome people.


Be a part of AfricaHackTrip! Show us and the world that you love the idea of truly connecting hacker cultures!


In return, we signify our love and gratitude to you by mentioning every single backer in the credits of our movie. Yes, even if you donate just a dollar, we will thank you in the credits. But we also prepared some perks for those that give us more money – go check them all out here!


Some picks of the perks:

For just 25 bucks, you will be able to take awesome pictures like these. And if you tweet them adding #AHT13 they will even appear on our tumblr - we are super curious to see who/what/where will be tagged with our favorite logo!


A donation of $50 will get you one of our T-Shirts, which were only given to extra special people so far. All of you are beautiful, but you could look even better in one of these…


From $250 upwards, you get an invite to the premiere and also the premiere party, which will take place before we launch the movie. We plan on some serious PartyMachen! in Berlin and look forward to hosting all of you generous givers!

Those that support us with $1,000 humble us – you will from now on be known as a producer of our movie, which is the greatest gift we have to give. You also get a seat of honor at the premiere, which we will have to build once someone donates those big bucks. Challenge us!


We are very grateful for the experience AfricaHackTrip was for us. We met incredible people, learned about crazy cool projects, found out how Africans use  technology to solve social problems, and brought together European and African hacking culture. And most importantly we kicked off continuous exchange – like with our friends over at Nairobi Dev School and EuroHackTrip. Please help us tell you all about it!

Thank you all for your support!!!

HighFives, Hugs and lots of <3 from
Gregor, Alex, Emi, Bumi, Basti, Martin, Vicy, Jan and Tobi

African WebMuses and AfricaHackTrip featured on

Today, AfricaHackTrip and especially Emi’s wonderful African WebMuses movie and four of the protagonists, were featured on the website of BILD Zeitung. Bild is a German tabloid and apparently, the newspaper with the sixth-largest circulation worldwide.

Its motto is “Form your own opinion”. In order for you all to do exactly that, here is a quick translation of the original article:


Young. Female. Computer Professionals. These are Africa’s Hacker Princesses.

They are young, female – and can program a PC like a pro! In Africa, ever more young women discover the tech business – and become true hacker princesses.

The video „Africa Web Muses“, which was produced during the Africa Hack Trip, gives an insight into this scene.

The journey was organized by eight tech professionals from Europe. In Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania, they searched for African hacker spaces – places where computers are being programmed, new websites are being built and IT projects are being pushed. They met many committed women in the tech scene.

BILD introduces four amazing hacker princesses:

Martha Chumo (19) from Nairobi had already raised several thousand dollars on the crowdfunding platform “indigogo” to attend „Hacker School New York“ in the USA, where coding is being tought in workshops, amongst other things. But her visa was denied. Reason: Too young, no children, unmarried. Instead of despairing, the tough Kenyan started a new crowdfunding campaign – for an own Hacker School in Nairobi! Her project succeeded: She founded “Nairobi Dev School”.

There, she wants to enhance enthusiasm for tech. Martha: ‘It works better than I thought. I hope it will be a starting point for the development in Africa.’ To further improve her school, she continues raising money on indigogo.

Jessica Colaco is a founding member of „iHub“, a Coworking and Hacker Space in Nairobi. When she happens to not be programming, she plays the bass guitar and rides horses. Her goal: Put Kenya on the map for tech! To reach it, she organizes Bootcamps and TED events. Jessica: ‘I specifically try to get women to study tech and remain in the field later on.’

Jamie Mayombwe from Uganda studies IT and Software Engineering. She helps organizing the “Girl Geek Camp” in Kampala. ‘It started as a meeting, then we shared it on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus’, Jamie says. More and more girls started attending the female tech bootcamp. Jamie: ‘It’s mostly between 10 and 15 girls. They get a laptop, software, and we show them what to do with it.’

Akaliza Keza Gara (22) specifically came to Rwanda to start her own business. Her uncle had advised her to do so, saying that Kigali was the best place to be ‘female, young and technically skilled’. The young woman is now the CEO of “Shaking Sun” in Kigali,a company that produces graphics and internet games. Akaliza is involved with the “Girls ICT Rwanda” association. Together with other women she visits schools and tries to get female students excited about IT jobs. Akaliza: ‘In the past, I found being the only girl in a computer group cool. Nowadays, I hope that this is changing.’

Nairobi Hackathon

After the barcamp got us all excited, hackathon day was also one of those really good ones! We feel like a network for continuous exchange is really evolving. People brought their own projects to the table, and it was a super diverse range of topics, which still all fell under the broader theme Hack & Design Together. And so we did just that. Here’s a little something on the projects.

Doze Poa :)

All groups seemed to be having a good time, but most giggles came from team “Doze poa” – a phrasebook app with which you learn to speak Swahili like a local. “Doze poa” means “Sleep well” which we so far had always translated as “Lala salama”, until we were now told that that is actually boring schoolbook Swahili. We still love the sound. Lala salama – could it mean anything else than “sleep well”?

Before the coding of “Doze Poa” began, there was thus quite some debate on content. What exactly is the difference between “Mambo” and “Sasa”, etc? They are both colloquial and much more commonly used versions of the schoolbook Swahili greeting phrase “Hujambo”. But when to use which? It seems totally clear to the Swahili-speakers, but it is quite hard to get across to us, who don’t even hear the difference between “Ndiaje” (Hello) and “Ndiache” (Leave me alone). So here is the difference:  You say “sasa” in passing, and “mambo” to actually start a conversation about how the other one is doing. Which makes “sasa” quite the revolutionary term, the linguist in me thinks, and the Swahili speakers agree.  

Most important: Pick-up lines! You say “Mambo m-super” (“Hey there, gorgeous!”) when you try to pick up a girl, but never when trying to pick up a man! Men are “m-handsome” – funny how they’re not (to be called) super in Kenya, much like they’re not (to be called) sweet or cute in Germany, isn’t it?

Really cool app!  Despite or because of the fun they had, team “Doze Poa” got the app built and running on FirefoxOS, including the Geeksphone Keons we have with us, till the evening – check out the app here and it’s progress in GitHub here. Please feel free to contribute! We hope that we and our Kenyan hacker friends will continue working on it, maybe together with some Ugandans, Rwandans or Tanzanians!

Arduino / Raspberry Pi

In addition to software hacks, one group tinkered with a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino-board – the outcome being a rangefinder, which the makers Michael, Charles and Harriet suggest should be used by drivers in Nairobi to keep a distance from each other.


MatatuChat / MatatuViz

Drivers that could definitely do with a rangefinder are the Matatu drivers in Nairobi, as the Europeans are to learn during the day. Zab proposed the group build a crowdsourcing service quality ratings of the Matatus – the local buses - basically a chat in which people can rate Matatus and report incidents of reckless driving, sexist drivers, or other dangers and annoyances.

Before the actual coding starts, there is some need for discussion in this group as well: Which problems do occur, which routes are the worst, who has which experiences, and how can the problems actually be tackled? Instead of organizing a round table with government, union and citizens, the group starts searching the web for similar apps – and actually find two that do pretty much exactly what MatatuChat had aspired to do: Nduru App and Ma3Route. After some more research, it turned out that the developers of both are located in the same building as iHub, and when invited to contribute to the session, they actually agreed and joined in. Serendipity rocks!

After that, the aim of the group somewhat changed, as now data was less of an issue than visualization. By the end of the hackathon, Nduru App and MatatuViz had agreed to collaborate to visualize the existing data in a better way and keep on making both better.

URL shortener

Phil, Neville and Beverlyn hack a URL shortener written in PHP with a JavaScript frontend, not just as a tool, but also for brand recognition. They are a very focused group, and only after the Hackathon does Phil ask us to check out the Ugandan hacker scene for him, so he can decide whether he may want to go and work there for a while. This is exactly what we had hoped for! Yay!


Another really great and more seriously needed app that got worked on was PingApp. After the Westgate siege, the Ushahidi team had gotten together to talk about what this meant to them and what they could contribute to make the situation better. Ping is a binary, multichannel check-in tool for groups. It’s an easy way for small groups, families and companies to quickly check in with each other.  The basic idea is probably best described by this great #AHT13 Nairobi Hackathon Design: PingApp


You can also find PingApp on GitHub - it’s all open-source, please feel free to work on it! We are happy that we could contribute to making terrible situations a little easier for people. Also, it was really great to see a Designer from Nigeria working on this project next to a Frontend Developer from Switzerland next to a Designer from Poland next to a Developer from Britain who currently lives in Kenya!

Here are @udezekene @gr2m @bytebandit and Alex hacking on the new Ping app for group checkins for emergencies #AHT13

— Erik Hersman (@whiteafrican) September 27, 2013



Later that night, the first meeting of the Nairobi.js usergroup is held – Thanks for taking ownership of that, Vicky!


We have gotten really helpful and mostly positive feedback from the attendees – Thanks again to them! We will properly evaluate and publish it at a later date – we’re kind of busy at the moment, so please bear with us. Right now, we would like to highlight just a few points: Nairobi hackers wants more barcamps and hackathons, and they are prepared to organize them. And we have made lots of connections which will turn into a network of African and European hackers – watch out for EuroHackTrip!






AfricaHackTrip meets Nairobi Hack Scene

AfricaHackTrip Nairobi
Wheee! Only a week till our trip starts in Nairobi – super excited!!On Thursday 26 and Friday 27 September 2013, we will host events at iHub Nairobi: a Barcamp on the first day, and a Hackathon on the second. The events (and catering) are sponsored by GitHub and Geeksphone is giving us devices to play around with and test apps on (which will be developed during the event?).

We are looking forward to meeting our peers in Nairobi! To make things easier for us, our friends at iHub and the caterer, please let us know if you attend via Lanyrd.

And here is our official invite text with some more infos:

AfricaHackTrip is a group of developers and designers from Europe visiting East Africa in September/October 2013. We have been coworking with people from all over the world, but not yet with creatives from the growing African tech scene. We want to meet, connect and share with our peers in East Africa. The goal is to kick off continuous exchange and establish networks.

We want to meet you and get to know you! To get in touch with the developer & designer community of Nairobi, we organize a 2-day event. On the first day, the focus will be on getting to know each other, discussions and community bonding. On the second day, we will collaborate and work together on projects which are important to the participants.

Our main interests and skills are UX design, web technology, open source community and mobile devices, so we chose these as umbrella topics for the events. We are also fans of Firefox OS, which is why we will present it and bring phones.

The events will have free catering sponsored by GitHub, so we can focus on our topics. The Firefox OS devices are generously donated by Geeksphone. They can be used for testing and developing apps. We intend on giving them to the local community after the events.

We are super happy to have iHub on board as host of our events in Nairobi on Thursday 26 September and Friday 27 September.

Thursday 26 September, 10.00-18.00: Barcamp / Unconference

We want to know and share how people work, connect and exchange:

  • What do people work on?
  • Which projects/problems are relevant?
  • How can we collaborate?

The first hour is reserved for a quick word on what AfricaHackTrip is, an introductory round so we can get to know each other, coming up with ideas for topics and then vote for a few that can be discussed and worked on in groups. We think defining topics together instead of defining something upfront makes more sense so bring your ideas!

Friday 27 September, 10.00-18.00: Hackathon

We want to speak code and work together on interesting projects. We’re hackers and like to create solutions for real problems.

Usually at a hackathon you start from scratch to build something small in a short amount of time. But we think the results could be more sustainable if we work on existing, real-world projects. That’s why we encourage everyone to present projects they’re working on and look for others to join their efforts. Starting from scratch is of course also fine.

Before or during the hackathon we can also have short talks or workshops to learn together. This depends on what we will all come up with together during the Barcamp. So bring your ideas and let’s work on them together!

Connect with

Will Mutua: Reflections on the ‘Silicon Savannah’

Will Mutua from Afrinnovator has written a very interesting piece on “The Past, Present and Future of Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Kenya”.  He sums up the developments in Kenya from the launch of undersea fiber optic cables, via Ushahidi, iHub and M-Pesa as examples of how entrepreneurs shaped Kenya’s tech boom, to the recent debate on the “Silicon Savannah”.

As an outlook to the future, he compares government plans and organic developments that grew from the Kenyan tech community, and concludes:

“Today the government has come up with another strategy and another plan. However, there’s also a vibrant tech community that can and should also determine its future. If the Silicon Savannah wants to grow fast and deliver on its promise, it has to be an intentional (and shared) progression. And in 5-years’ time questions and criticisms can be raised, but at least against a standard of expectation.”

Read the whole article here: