Category Archives: Locations

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 bild.de

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.

http://www.bild.de/geld/wirtschaft/afrika/afrikanische-hacker-prinzessinnen-34316104.bild.html

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.’

AfricaHackTrip in Masaka

Exploring the Opportunity to setup Masaka Dev School

Exploring the Opportunity to setup Masaka Dev School

Last Sunday Alex, Jan and I went on a short side trip to Masaka after we got invited to evaluate the opportunity to start a developer school there.

Ralph, and old friend of mine and also a representative of the German CWM Catholic Workers Movement is involved in several long term projects between Masaka in Uganda and Bruchköbel in Germany. After he heard that we would be in Kampala, which is only a 2h ride away from Masaka, he invited us to visit.

Charles from the Ugandan CWM picked us up on Sunday afternoon and we had the entire Monday reserved for discussions and visits of the facilities.

The Masaka Dev School Exploration

The Monday started with a visit to Africa Point, an internet Café run by Rita. It has 10 work stations with up-to-date computers and a decent internet connection. We explained the concept of a developer school to her and showed them the material of codecadamy.org/afterschool, which is a fantastic starting point with everything needed to start and supervise a developer school. Rita already gives courses for students on how to use Microsoft Office and she expressed their interest to get involved in a potential Masaka Dev School.

Afterwards we had a bigger meeting with Caritas MADDO (Masaka Diocesan Development Organization), the principal of the BTI Mawanda Achilles, Charles, Rita, Goretti, Henry Bomboka and Thaddaeus Charles Bukenya (a web designer working for CWM) on what a developer school is and how it could be setup. Next to Rita from Africa Point,Fr. George Ssemombwe from MADDO suggested to get their local Technical Institute involved, so did Mawanda Achilles from the BTI.

We clarified that a “developer school” is very different from a traditional school. There is no need for an extra building or to adjust the existing curriculum. We also think it should not be run like a traditional class with a frontal teaching style, but should be more like a workshop with a supervisor and ideally voluntary coaches that help students if they get stuck or have any questions. The developer school should take place twice per week for 2-3 hours. Ideally the students would have their own computers so they can follow their curiosity and further explore what they have learned during the sessions. Alternatively giving them out-of-class access to the computer lab could work, too.

After the meeting with MADDO, we visited the BTI. It’s a great school that includes facilities to teach for example farming, plumbing and electrical engineering. There is also a computer lab to teach basic computer skills. Unfortunately, there currently is neither a local network nor internet connection which is a big disadvantage.

A new building is currently being built which includes a very big room that is to become the future computer lab. From our perspective, it is big enough to even turn it into a small incubator for students that want to start their own company after finishing the BTI.

Masaka Dev School: next steps

From what we’ve seen, we’d recommend the following next steps.

  1. Identify 1-3 supervisors that are willing to take ownership of setting up the Masaka Developer School. For example, this could be Rita (Africa Point), Henry (MADDO) and someone from the BTI.
  2. The supervisors should take the course at http://codecademy.org/afterschool themselves and afterwards decide if they want to start and supervise a developer school.
  3. Rita could become the main supervisor, Henry could use his existing expertise to support the students as a coach and the BTI could identify a group of students for the first Masaka Developer School.
  4. For the facility, we’d recommend Africa Point as it is central, there are already computers and a sufficient internet connection.
  5. Once the supervisors, the facility and the students are identified, we’d recommend to set up a 2 day workshop with volunteering programmers from Kampala. Especially Kampala’s strong Mozilla community would certainly be interested.
  6. The material by Codecademy is made for 15 weeks, separated into two semesters. With the acquired skills, the students and supervisors will be able to create and maintain simple websites as well as have a basic understanding of programming. They will also be able to keep studying on their own using online learning materials and potentially help teach the next dev school class.

As a side note, it would be worth researching how expensive it would be to set up an internet connection at the BTI.

Kampala Barcamp at Outbox


The first half of the barcamp day at Outbox is already over. Similar to the Nairobi about 50 people have gathered to discuss a broad range of internet related topics.

  • General Overview about embedded Systems
  • The future of the web in Uganda and the Mozilla Community
  • OpenStreetMap and GEO
  • Social Media in Uganda
  • Linux and OpenSource
  • Where is my data? – about data privacy
  • Kampala.js – founding of the monthly Kampala JavaScript meetup
  • Cross Continent Collaboration / Creating the AfricaHackTrip community
  • What is Bitcoin

I guess one of the highlights so far was the session about the future of the web and the Mozilla Community in Uganda. The Community here is huge and they do a great job in pushing the web into a more open and accessible future.  Make sure to read their blog and follow them on twitter.

Thank you, outbox community for hosting us! And make sure to come to hive colab for the hackathon tomorrow.

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!

PingApp

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

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 http://t.co/ljFGMnBI1A

— Erik Hersman (@whiteafrican) September 27, 2013

 

Nairobi.js

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

Feedback

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Do that more often

The first week lies behind us, and we are really overwhelmed what a success the barcamp and hackathon has been. One thing we saw in the participants’ feedback is that they liked the format and that they want us to do such events more often.

Asking for this is a great compliment and a good indicator that we did everything right. But as we from the AfricaHackTrip are seeing our goal in establishing connections between Africa and Europe, we encourage the local community to do those events on their own.

So here is our call: Organize barcamps and hackathons, build user groups and exchange experience. We would love to see that!

Barcamp & Hackathon in Kigali

Kigali BarCamp & Hackathon

Exchange knowledge and experience, collaborate and work on interesting projects on a 2-day event on the 18th and 19th of October 2013 in Kigali. It’s the third of its kind, after a great event in Nairobi that took place last week, and one taken place this Friday & Saturday in Kampala.

AfricaHackTrip is a group of developers and designers from Europe who are curious about the emerging tech scene in East Africa and visiting Kigali in October 2013. The main interests and skills of this group ranging from UX design, web technology, mobile devices to open source and hardware hacking.

The events are hosted at The Office. With GitHub as a sponsor, there will be free catering on both days. Also Firefox OS devices are generously donated by Geeksphone for developing and testing apps, and a few Arduino kits will be there for hardware hacking.

On the first day, the focus will be on getting to know each other, discussions and community bonding. The second day will be all about hacking together on projects which are important to the participants.

If you like to attend, please register at the event page on Lanyrd or with the form below.

We would love to hear about topics and ideas upfront so get in touch! You can reach out the the team of the AfricaHackTrip on the Facebook Event pages (Barcamp / Hackathon) or via

What a Week

It’s been only a week since most of us Hack Trippers arrived in Africa. We’re just done with chapter one out of four but our impressions and experiences are already enough for a whole trip.

We started organizing our events right away, checking out iHub and discussing details of the concept and schedule. Getting some feedback on our ideas from people like Alex from Mozilla also led to our first interviews. We found the iHub to be a really cool place to work and meet people and everybody was really supportive and made us feel very welcome.

The events were a huge success. I think all of us share the feeling that things worked out even better than we dared to hope when we started the project. There was this moment when everybody was asked to introduce them and name a few “tags” that describe their interests best and we realized that we really were a big group of hackers – Africans and Europeans – passionate about the same things. Sweet!

I enjoyed the Barcamp a lot because in every session the participants instantly started talking, discussing and exchanging views and ideas. I didn’t feel any gap between cultures, just talking technology and design, no matter what level of expertise. We were hoping that this trip could also help connecting African communities more and this definitely happens. For example in the session “JavaScript for App Development” a fine group of passionate developers gathered of which most didn’t know each other before and as a result the user group Nairobi.js will be started!

On the Hackathon the next day many people from the Barcamp showed up again and everybody obviously enjoyed working together. Some really cool projects got started or were even finished.

The feedback for our events made us really happy and showed us that we are doing it right. Many participants pointed out that they enjoyed the collaboration and asked for more events of that kind. The approach of self-organized community events doesn’t seem to be so common here and we hope that members of the community step up and continue this exchange. It feels so rewarding that our format is greeted with so much enthusiasm.

Connecting through the events is actually happening. We are sharing Twitter handles and email addresses to keep in touch and continue working on the projects we started. We visited impressing initiatives like the Nairobi Dev School which is providing a full-time web development class completely run by the community that will also soon start an OpenTechSchool chapter in Nairobi!

Oh, and we climbed a volcano and some of us saw giraffes in the wild.

One thing is for sure: There’s developers and designers with the same skills and attitude like us. We call them hackers. We found them. We even have the first Africans actually talking about a EuroHackTrip and planning from both sides already began. This is amazing! Our wildest hopes might actually become true!