Archive for February, 2011
The VSA has some exciting new developments to report:
- Anna Wertlen is currently writing a proposal to the Makana Municipality for the usage of a large building in Joza-Rhini. Several stakeholders are interested to move into the building to strengthen and widen partnerships to serve the community, eg. RLabs, the Centre for Social Development, The Makana Science Alliance, the Mobile Science Lab and Upstart, except from the VSA apparently. This development is very exciting and promising. The Makana Science Alliance also showed interest in placing science content onto awareNet and offering online teaching.
- Our proposal to the UK Department of International Development for academic research on and implementation of the Village Scribe Project made it onto the short list. Final decisions are expected in April.
- Ron Wertlen is currently working on a study into the Potential to Utilize Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to Promote Inclusion, Public Participation and Accountability in Local Governance in South Africa. This feeds us a lot of useful information and opens up future possibilities for eKhaya ICT.
- Manuela Walsdorf-Maul, a lecturer of the Technical University, is visiting the Eastern Cape tomorrow to explore possibilities for a collaboration with the VSA and Bulungula Incubator to build additional classrooms for the No ofisi School in Nqileni.
- We are working on an awareNet spin-off, it’s a commercial product, it is cool and builds on perhaps 3 or 4 key insights. These are things we knew, and that loads of visitors to the projects reaffirmed by saying, “Wouldn’t is be groovy if we could do that?” Well, finally, it will be possible. More news before the end of 2011.
- The VSA is a partner of Rhodes University International School. Together, we offer a course to students from USA and Italy called Environment, Development, Sustainability in (South) Africa, whereby the VSA offers the elective ICT4D with the possibility to visit Rhini and Bulungula. Mid April we will know how many students will attend.
- Ron Wertlen submitted a solicited proposal to USAASA. The agency is currently ramping up their access intiatives, including the broader themes of training and software, but mainly pure access to communication signals. Being one of their focus regions, the Eastern Cape is hopeful of receiving USAASA support, and we are hoping that some of our initiatives, will be funded. We’ll know soon if our proposal has been accepted.
- We handed in our application for registration as a South African non-profit organisation and are waiting to be accepted. This will give us the possibility to apply for volunteer work from the German Weltwärts Programme and Rhodes University Community Engagement.
Ron and I have just registered for the Net Prophet Conference in Cape Town. Anna will represent the VSA and Ron eKhaya ICT. Together we will present our Village Scribe Project, awareNet, TeleWeaver and much more.
This is how Net Prophet describes itself on its homepage:
Take the most innovative/successful/creative/ambitious thinkers and entrepreneurs in the Internet space, and ask them to share their stories, ideas and predictions for the future in a format that is fresh, relevant and engaging. The result: Net Prophet.
This description is so promising, we are very much looking forward to this event, also hoping to meet Marlon Parker and Craig Ross from RLabs and several others. Meet us in Cape Town, Mutual Park, 12 May 2011!
TeleWeaver is a hybrid on- and offline product which allows access to Internet services in a manner that is friendly to mesh networks. Mesh networks are an important source of access in the African environment. Another unique feature of TeleWeaver is its low-maintenance architecture. Through OSGi, a technology standard developed for motor vehicle software and mobile phones, the product becomes very robust. At the same time it allows external developers to deploy their software extensions to the platform.
The first version includes Career, Tourism and Survey functionality. It is being released toward the end of March and will allow village scribes to provide services to their communities.
At the same time the development team will be able to monitor the kinds of problems that are experienced in the field. It will also be a good test to see what costs will be incurred in terms of Internet access, on a rudimentary system.
TeleWeaver is a product of the SAFIPA funded ESTIMA project.
Thozi Ngeju works for the VSA and is the community coordinator for the Grahamstown-Rhini region.
He teaches awareNet to the learners at various different schools in the township.
(Click here to find out more about Thozi.)
"So far January has been slow because of the holiday. However, I’d like
to note that this should be a very busy months, in terms of preparation. I need to contact the Grahamstown schools that I’d worked with already – Nathaniel Nyaluza High School, Mary Waters Hoer Skool, Benjamin Mahlasela Secondary School, Fikizolo Primary School, C.M Vellem Primary School, Ntsika Secondary School, T.E.M Mrwetyana Secondary School and Nombulelo Secondary School. It would be nice to carry on from where the learners and I had left off. There were those schools that I did not work with but who had shown an interest (Ntaba Maria Primary School, Archie Mbolekwa Higher Primary School and George Dickerson Primary School; and those (D.D Siwisa Primary School) who, apparently, had computers but needed to find and set them up in some room and get Internet connection. I have to find out the progress on those. Besides these, I have been working on the South African Quotations project on awareNet that I don’t think I’ll ever finish because there are so many books, periodicals, video clips and cassette tapes (with the help of the Cory Library) that I need to browse through to say I went through sufficient data for the project to deserve its title. I also tried to start another project on awareNet about the township taverns in Grahamstown. For the uninitiated, the definition of a tavern in the townships is “a place where people can have a good time, get drunk and listen to loud music from a jukebox”. But I met there too many former classmates that have lost a sense of direction that it depressed me so much I’m not sure if I want to work on the project anymore."
Reed House Systems, our partner in developing software for African communities, is looking for an additional junior programmer, as well as an administrator or coordinator. If you are interested, please send your CV and a cover letter to hiring [at] eKhayaICT [dot.] com.