Category Archives: Backstage

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.’

Event planning

We are organizing one or two events in each city as our main means to get together with local designers, developers and entrepreneurs. We don’t really know what to expect and it is hard to organize remotely, but we already got and will continue to get a lot of help from the hubs, co-working spaces and other contacts.

The main goal of AfricaHackTrip is to connect with fellow hackers and to establish an exchange of knowledge, ideas and culture regarding the tech world. Us presenting or teaching something would not really convey the core of these goals. Additionally, although we as a group share a lot of interests and values, we don’t all do the same thing, so what would we present and teach?

Still, if we just say that we wanna check out what’s going on and meet people, maybe working on interesting projects together, people are a bit confused about that. Yes, we tried… But how can you advertise that? How can you get members of the communities interested in something that blurry?

We needed something more tangible. We needed to come up with exciting descriptions of our events that can be published on the venues’ websites, that appeal to tech people, entrepreneurs, sponsors and press alike. And if the talking and working together part is not working out as we hope, it would also be good to be able to present something instead.

So our event concept now includes barcamp-style unconferences and hack-a-thons as a compromise between prepared presentations and workshops, and more or less unstructured hangouts. We got some valuable feedback from the venues about the potential participants for our events. Still, we don’t have a concrete feeling what to expect, and we believe we should not schedule too much and instead be open to let things develop and encourage participation as much as possible. Thanks to my involvement in OpenTechSchool I have some good experiences with this approach.

We are currently working on writing event descriptions that will contain general topics such as “open source”, “world-wide collaboration”, “web technology”, “open standards”, “web UX design”, “diversity in tech”, “open knowledge exchange” that we stand for.

We try to get a community together based on these topics.

In addition we will name FirefoxOS as a concrete technology and product that represents many of our values and that we would love to present and talk about. FirefoxOS is a hot topic right now, probably a good fit for African markets, and we hope to meet people that are excited about it, too. Thanks to our partner GeeksPhone we will have a few phones with us that we can use for presentations and workshops and donate to co-working spaces.

We have a lot to talk about. Judging from what we learned so far, there will be loads of projects to be worked on, so our events will be a full day each. Thanks to our partner GitHub and the efforts of the venues we can offer catering for the participants so we can focus on what is important to us.

The events are the heart of the trip and we would love to get feedback about our plans. Get in touch or comment here. We want your ideas, your questions, your complaints and your favorite topics!

We are all excited and looking forward to this!

AfricaHackTrip Drink-Up Recap

What a great way to kick off the US chapter of the AfricaHackTrip project. Our host for the evening, Pete Fecteau, was joined by 12 other smiling faces. The evening kicked off at 6:30 at the Showdown in the heart of San Francisco California. The conversation was hot and covered projects and technologies that the group has been looking at in Africa as well as things that may be of interest to African hackers.

One topic in particular kept coming up, M-Pesa, Africa’s SMS-driven solution to sending/receiving payments. The solution makes complete sense in Africa where mobile technologies are at the cutting edge and serves as a great case-study for how culture and geography make different demands on emerging technology.

Many people attending the event came with minimal knowledge of the group and it’s mission but after a short pitch it was apparent they were in the right place.  One individual, Charles Van Norman, mention he had started a very similar group he was calling the African Dev Tour and was interested in seeing if there was any overlap. The two groups showed very similar interests and we look forward to collaborating in the future.

At 8:30 the event was winding down. Some of the attendees retired for the evening while others enjoyed food and more camaraderie at Grubstake, a local restaurant. All-in-all is was a very pleasant evening and served the purpose of making friends out of profiles.

Many of the attendees have now signed up to attend the official meeting on Wednesday, October 24th at 12:00pm. That meeting will be held at the SFSU downtown campus (835 Market St @ Powell station, 6th floor, San Francisco, CA).