German M-Pesa – would it be successful?

(…in English, und nicht auf Deutsch, because I’d love to see comments from non-German speakers as well. Dankeschön!)

Mobile payment solutions, or m-payment, aren’t anything new to the interested mobile user. There are different (technical) models for mobile payments:

  • Premium SMS based transactional payments
  • Direct Mobile Billing
  • Mobile web payments
  • Contactless Near Field Communication

During this year’s local BarCamp in Darmstadt (for the Rhein-Main area), I also presented a few slides on M-Pesa & M-Kesho which are quite succesful in Kenya since their launch. Safaricom‘s former CEO, Michael Joseph, also talked about the success & struggle that came along with it during his Q&A session at (the) iHub Kenya earlier last month. Afaik, M-Pesa on Safaricom (Kenya, 51% owned by Vodafone) is a Premium SMS based transactional payment system.

You can google for M-Pesa and also check YouTube for the various videos on M-Pesa and why it has become so successful in EAK over the last three years (obviously, due to the lack of and need for alternatives).

Now, Germany. A country with seemingly more ATMs than public toilets :-), a working payment system, affordable (sometimes free) bank accounts with minimal charges, a cash culture where card-based payment systems are diverse and convenient to handle, but most importantly:the existing mix of cash & cards is an approved system that most often works and doesn’t require much behaviour change.

During another session on future mobile apps (during the BarCamp), fellow blogger Kai-Christian asked the attendees about their perception of mobile apps, and what we would like to see being developed.

As a hardware guy, I naturally love the idea of gadget add-ons that will turn your iPhone/smartphone into an e.g. medical test device, but when I look at the African market – and that was my main intention when I presented the slides on AfriGadget, Ushahidi, the iHub & Co (= what can we learn & adopt from them? South>North exchange) – I think it’s a very valid question to ask about the lowest denominator: telephony & sms, and why we are foccussing on High-Tech only (as opposed to the long-tail in mobile phone users, ~ 80% on simple phones), and why the market for SMS-based services still isn’t as satisfied as it should be.

To me it seems that since 1997, since the introduction of WAP, not much really changed in this sector (in .DE) because everyone was looking for the “killer app”, and this perception only really changed with true internet phones like the iPhone and such.

So I asked if a mobile payment system like M-Pesa would be possible in Germany.

One of the attendees, Silke (who is an expert on commerce systems and also blogs their usage on her private site), instantly replied that these mobile payment systems wouldn’t be successful in Germany because ppl wouldn’t need them (due to the aforementioned availability of ATMs & alternatives).

Software developer & technical consultant with a mobile service provider, Ali Pasha, added another comment to that and explained that there are security issues that come along with using SMS (which is true, because there is no 100% encryption). Given that a lot of Germans are having privacy concerns with Google Street View and objected the publication of street photos (which aren’t that private anyways), security issues are to be taken very serious when it comes to doing business in Germany (and, of course, elsewhere, but Germans seem to be very attached to security issues). No risk, no problem?

There are existing mobile payment systems available in Germany (also some upcoming ones based on Contactless NFC right here in Frankfurt), and I also remember the late Paybox service from early 2000 which is now only active in Austria. I don’t know the actual reasons for their failure in Germany, maybe due to investors pulling back or because of a tight competition with banks & providers, or both, but it’s interesting to note that their failure obviously wasn’t due to users who rejected the system, but because of external pressure. I, for one, remember using Paybox as a happy customer. If there is one thing I’ve learned in business, (then) it’s that the best and most accepted solution isn’t always the one that will prevail and succeed.

screenshot mpass

What you see here is a screenshot taken from mpass, a German system run by Vodafone (M-Pesa!) – a list of online shops where you can already pay using mpass. Not too many, if I may say so, and I am sure that mpass isn’t as popular in Germany as it probably should (be).

And obviously, mpass isn’t like M-Pesa because it a) isn’t implemented into the SIM (SIM-toolkit) and b) mpass is also only (?) used as an add-on to online shopping, to confirm a payment, while m-pesa provides much more than that (e.g. the direct exchange of credit).

Sooo…. if a similar technology is already available, and if they have been “alive” since 2008 – what do you think? Would a mobile payment system (of any kind) be successful in Germany? Would it take a SIM-toolkit modification like M-Pesa to reduce security concerns among German users? I remember having an M-Banking menu item on my old D2/Vodafone SIM card which never worked, and I am not the only one who never understood this.

I think one of the main arguments for M-Pesa (from  provider perspective) is that users are forced to stick to a SIM (and the network), while mpass works from all networks. Is this due to a European law which regulates, but also limits the competition? I don’t know. But what I do know is that there’s often a different reality to what has been evaluated in field studies, or what we (as interested users) may assume of the market. Just as M-Pesa had been adopted to the Kenyan market by its users – “misused”, if you will. I like that. I’d like to see a similar development in Germany, if only to further explore what’s really possible with basic mobile phone functionality like telephony or sms.

What do you think?

BarCamp Darmstadt 2010 & Co.

Ich bin grad zurück vom BarCamp Darmstadt 2010, bei dem sich nicht nur IT Fritzen, und auch nicht nur Interessierte aus dem Rhein-Main Gebiet haben blicken lassen.

Wenn jemand eine so lange Anfahrt aus dem Saarland in Kauf nimmt um sich mit Leuten auszutauschen, die er/sie vielleicht sonst nur “von Twitter” her kennt, durch die eine oder andere Session inspiriert wird oder einfach nur schaut was beim BarCamp los ist, dann spricht das wohl schon für die Qualität der sehr guten Organisation und vielleicht auch der Teilnehmer.

In fast jedem Fall empfand ich diese 2 Tage (von 08:00 bis 18:00 Uhr) in einem Gebäude der Deutschen Telekom in Darmstadt als gelungen – entsprachen sie doch genau meinen Vorstellungen vom BarCamp, wo es übrigens jedem Teilnehmer überlassen wird, durch einen eigenen Beitrag eine sog. Session zu gestalten und die Diskussion/Austausch zu einem Thema zu fördern. Außerdem verwahrlost man als selbstständiger “was-mit-IT/Web/Medien”-Worker leicht, so dass dieser zwanglose Austausch bei den Stammtischen, Webmontagen, Ignite-Abenden, TEDx[Stadtname] und jetzt diesem BarCamp eine wirklich angenehme Alternative darstellt. Ein BarCamp empfinde ich dabei im besten Fall immer als eine Art Weiterbildung – auch wenn man meint, vieles zu kennen, gibt es doch immer wieder neue Kontakte.

Ich habe auch so eine (sehr gut besuchte – thx!) Session gestaltet heute morgen, direkt als Erster um 10:00 Uhr, zum Thema Afrigadget & Softwareprojekte / Startups in (Ost-)Afrika. Das war eigentlich gar nicht geplant, aber Wolfgang Weicht vom Kombinat für asiatische Schwarmintelligenzforschung sowie Jan Eggers vom HR hatten mich dann dazu gebracht, dass ich in der Nacht auf Sonntag vor allem vorm PC saß und diese 93 slides zurechtgebastelt habe, die einen Einblick zur Arbeit bei/für AfriGadget & Co bieten sollen:

(Update: die originale Präsentation wurde gelöscht, daher diese hier, die ich beim AfricaGathering in London gehalten hatte)

Eine ähnliche Präsentation hatte ich vor 8 Monaten schon einmal vor einer kleinen Gruppe bei der Socialbar Frankfurt gehalten – seinerzeit aber ohne diese eigentlich wichtigen Ergänzungen zum Thema Ushahidi/Crowdmap und iHub Kenia. Unser Gruppenblog ist sicherlich ein nettes Technikblog mit sozio-kulturellen Beobachtungen im afrikanischen low-tech Kontext, die wirkliche Innovation in 2010 in Ostafrika stellt für mich aber das iHub Kenia dar, das eine Fülle von neuen High-Tech Möglichkeiten bietet, und noch viel mehr – wie der bekannte GlobalVoices/Geekcorps Blogger Ethan Zuckerman jetzt auch nochmal feststellen konnte (und, wie er schreibt, am liebsten dort bleiben würde).

Über den Nutzen eines Open Source Crowdsourced Mapping Tools wie Ushahidi im Bereich der Nothilfe mag man sicherlich geteilter Meinung sein, aber mir ging es jetzt vor allem darum, dass ein technisch auf Weltniveau mitschwimmendes, aus einem Entwicklungsland wie Kenia stammendes Tool auch in Deutschland für ein interessantes Projekt eingesetzt werden sollte. Der Alex Boerger, Designer/Kommunikations/Mediendingens, kam dann auch gleich mit einem interessanten Projektvorschlag rüber: Ushahidi nutzen, um den Leerstand von Büroräumen in Mainz zu tracken. Die Idee finde ich super! Ganz abgesehen davon, dass der Alex auch ganz andere coole Ideen hat, freue ich mich natürlich sehr über diese Wahrnehmung des Ushahidi Potentials. Etwas gut zu finden und es dann auch einzusetzen sind zwei komplett verschiedene Dinge.

Sehen kann man das auch bei unserem Feierabendprojekt “” (FG), für das wir massiv Postkarten ausgelegt und den Vertretern von Namics und TripleSense für die direkte Ansprache wohl eher Unannehmlichkeiten bereitet hatten (man möge mir dies verzeihen). FG basiert auf dem Content Management System Drupal, das zwar eigentlich total genial ist und eine wunderbare Flexibilität bietet, aber auch seine Tücken hat. In einem Land wie Deutschland, in dem die Profis gerne auf Typo3 als “bestes CMS” verweisen, fühlt sich die gemeinsame Einarbeitung in Drupal auch irgendwie gut an. Im Ausland ist Drupal bekannt und beliebt, nur in Deutschland….

Und dann auch noch bei einer Diskussionsplattform zur Lokalpolitik, wobei diese beiden Begriffe hier eigentlich nicht wirklich zutreffen – auch nicht der Begriff “Internetforum” (wie die FNP schrieb) – und auch bei mir eher Erinnerungen an Begriffe wie “Diskussionsbedarf” aus Asta-Zeiten hervorrufen. Das alles soll FG eigentlich nicht sein, sondern in erster Linie eine Übersichtsseite zu den Aktivitäten der Lokalpolitik nach Stadtteilen geordnet, und virtuelle Anlaufstelle für die Probleme der Bürger mit der Möglichkeit, eine eigene Initiative zu starten (ohne den ganzen Quatsch, den man mit einer Iniative sonst vielleicht verbinden würde – wer will sich heutzutage schon öffentlich engagieren, wenn er dafür nach Stuttgart oder Gorleben fahren muss?). Nein, FG ist für uns auch Neuland, dass es in dieser Form erstaunlicherweise bundesweit noch nicht gegeben hat. Insofern lassen wir uns gerne überraschen und freuen und auch über die zugesagte Mitarbeit einiger heller Köpfe im Rhein-Main Gebiet, so dass sich Frankfurt-Gestalten eigentlich nur nach vorne entwickeln kann.


Gefreut habe ich mich auch sehr über dieses Make: “The Best of instructables, Vol. 1” Buch aus dem Hause O’Reilly – einer Spende zu den regelmäßig stattfindenden Webmontagen, die ich als Gegenleistung für einen kleinen Tweet erhalten hatte (und dafür schäme, aber die Neugierde beim Bücherangebot war zu groß). Ich bin nämlich ein leidenschaftlicher Bastler, habe mir in der Vergangenheit auch schon das Makezine gekauft und lese die O’Reilly Bücher idR auch online bei PaperC – der Plattform für Fachbücher. Lohnt sich. Heißen Dank!

Bedanken möchte ich mich auch bei den Sponsoren und dem Orga-Team für das super organisierte BarCamp – vom Ticket, über die Verpflegung hin zu den T-Shirts war da wirklich alles dabei. Einzig das sehr wackelige & umständliche WLAN im Gebäude der Deutschen Telekom fand ich etwas seltsam und Netzempfang der anderen Wettbewerber war dort auch fast unmöglich innerhalb des Gebäudes. Später funktionierte dann der Fonic Stick, war dann aber nur noch für Twitter von Bedeutung. Fürs nächste BarCamp wünsche ich mir daher entweder ein besseres WLAN, oder gute Empfangsmöglichkeiten bei den Mobilfunkanbietern. Das klingt jetzt vielleicht etwas kleinkarriert, aber mittlerweile laufen bei solchen Veranstaltungen nicht nur der back channel über Twitter, eine gute Netzabdeckung ist daher schon recht wichtig.

SocialBar Frankfurt

The following blog post will be in German, as it is about an event that took place in Frankfurt this Wednesday evening. Following the Twitter back channel conversations during last week’s Ignite Frankfurt event (where attendees criticized the use of English instead of German), I realized that in order to reach those who are targeted, I will have to use their language. So the following will be a recap of the SocialBar event and a few thoughts about it – in German.

For those interested, the presentation I gave about AfriGadget tonight is very similar to the one I had given in London last year – only updated a few slides and included links to sites like, or The reasoning is the same from my post back then, even my motivation for giving a talk on AG is pretty much the same. Imo, it’s all about giving another picture of “Africa”. One that may be different from what is usually known via the (partly biased) media. My colleague Steve Mugiri also presented AfriGadget during the TEDxAtlanta event on January 26 – if you can, pls check out his video. I also like it that everyone of us at AfriGadget has his/her own perspective & motivation for AfriGadget – and uses a different approach to highlight our work.

I think I am very passionate about this subject, and I consider “passion” a driving force for a lot of good projects. But anyways, I digress and should probably continue in German.

Auf Deutsch also. Dies war nun die vierte SocialBar in Frankfurt, dieses Mal relativ gut besucht, ca. 13? Teilnehmer aus verschiedenen Bereichen, mit verschiedener Motivation / Absichten / Erwartungen aber doch schon relativ ähnlichem sozialen und beruflichen Hintergrund.

Was ist eine SocialBar?

Laut der Website ist die SocialBar “ein Treffen von Weltverbesserern. Web-Aktivisten, Social Entrepreneurs, NGOs, ehrenamtliche Helfer, Politiker und Unternehmen mit sozialer Verantwortung kommen bei der Socialbar zusammen, um sich kennen zu lernen, Kontakte zu knüpfen, Erfahrungen auszutauschen und Kooperationen einzugehen.”

Trotz dieser Beschreibung wüsste ich aber immer noch nicht, wie man die SocialBar genauer beschreiben sollte – es ist eine Veranstaltung, an der interessierte Leute teilnehmen, die sich für soziale Themen interessieren. Sozial, im Sinne von: ich mache etwas, das ich nicht nur für mich alleine mache.

Vielleicht auch wegen dieser doch recht ungenauen Definition, meines eigenen Hintergrundes und der doch regionalen Unterschiede bei Events solcher Art (eine SocialBar in z.B. Berlin erreicht meistens ein anderes Publikum), kann ich natürlich nur für mich selber sprechen: ich empfinde die SocialBar als sinnvolle Veranstaltung, bei der ich vor allem Gleichgesinnte treffe, die sich “soziale Projekte” auf die Fahne geschrieben haben. Sei es aus beruflicher Natur, oder auch weil man in der Freizeit einen sinnvollen Beitrag für die Allgemeinheit leisten möchte und der 9-to-5 Tagesjob dies nur unzureichend ermöglicht. Und so kommen wir auch schon zum zweiten Vortrag des Abends: von Wolfgang Weicht über die “Coding Battle”, oder wie er es nennt: The Social Media Fight Club.

Kurz: mehrere Teams bestehend aus Programmierern, Konzeptern und anderen Kreativen arbeiten ehrenamtlich an einem Wochenende zusammen und als Teams gegeneinander, um einer NGO zu einer Website zu verhelfen.

Die Idee finde ich nach längerer Diskussion und einigen Bieren mit Wolfgang nicht ganz so verkehrt, aber vor allem interessiert mich daran natürlich die Frage, ob man in einer Stadt wie Frankfurt – die ich in diesem Bereich als sehr träge empfinde – eine kritische Masse von Leuten zusammenbringen kann, die in ihrer Freizeit – in einer (an den HipHop angelehnten) Battle oder auch einfach nur so – für Níchtregierungsorganisationen (de: NROs, en: NGOs) unentgeltlich und aus Spaß (!) an der Sache ehrenamtlich arbeiten wollen.

Die Frage nach der Teilnahme an so einem Event empfinde ich als sehr wichtig – immerhin funktionieren viele Einrichtungen in Deutschland nur deswegen, weil es ehrenamtliche Helfer gibt. Ohne direkte Bezahlung einfach mal schauen ob man im Kollektiv etwas erreichen kann – das empfinde ich als sehr spannende Idee. Klar, gibt es ja auch schon online in Form der Wikipedia – kollektives Zusammentragen von Wissen – aber die Leute dann von ihren Computerbildschirmen hin zu einem realen Treffen zu bewegen, wo sie sich aufraffen müssen und gemeinsam etwas erarbeiten – das ist schon anders. Und eben auf den Frankfurter Kontext bezogen. Leute anschreiben, motivieren, begeistern können, Leidenschaft wecken, hinterher sein und sicherstellen, dass sie auch wirklich kommen (ich hatte mich auch schon mal zu einem Treffen bei Wolfgang angemeldet und dann im letzten Moment abgesagt). Das ist alles irre viel Arbeit. Können die Organisatoren der SocialBar sicherlich auch bestätigen.

Ob die Coding Battle in dieser Form klappen wird – who knows?

Ob ich daran teilnehmen werde? Hell, yes! Weil:

“Leadership Lessons learned from Dancing Guy”, von Derek Sivers, dessen Videos eigentlich alle super sind, alleine schon wegen seiner netten Stimme.

Einen ähnlichen Ansatz hat uns dann noch Denis Engemann vorgestellt, Student der Psychologie & Philosophie, der uns von dem anstehenden WIRKCAMP 2010 (am 07.-09. Mai 2010) in Leipzig berichtet hat. Ein ähnlicher Ansatz also wie die Coding Battle, in Leipzig nennen sie es allerdings Synagieren – gemeinsam handeln: “wir bringen für 3 Tage engagierte Menschen in kleinen Projekten zusammen”.

Laut den auf der Website angekündigten Arbeitsgruppen wird es folgende Themen/Arbeitsschwerpunkte geben: Vegetarische Tage für die Uni-Mensa, Filmen für Nachhaltigkeit, Littlebird – Schmackhaft in den Arbeitsmarkt, Nachhaltigkeit im Internet und Konsum Global Leipzig. Aus studentischer Sicht macht dies alles schon irgendwie Sinn.

Am Ende des Abends bleiben für mich die folgenden Fragen: welche Themen sind die ultimative Garanten für eine Mitarbeit von Freiwilligen? Wie kann ich eine möglichst interessierte Anzahl von Mitbürgern zu einem unentgeltlichen Projekt bewegen? Sind solche Aktivitäten ein Hinweis auf die Arbeitsweise in der Zukunft (kleine, dezentrale Projekte, vernetzes Arbeiten)? Inwiefern definieren wir uns mit so einem – bisher nur ausserberuflichen – Ansatz heute schon die Arbeitswelt von morgen? Und: inwiefern unterscheidet sich eine SocialBar in Frankfurt von einer SocialBar in Dresden, Berlin, Bonn oder Hannover?

my take on AfricaGathering in London

I’ve just returned home from London where I’d been attending AfricaGathering on Saturday 25 April 2009 which was held at Birkbeck College, University of London. A perfectly organised event (by Ed Scotcher & many helpful volunteers – thx!), the Gathering turned out to be quite a success, especially as it eventually provided me with the opportunity to meet some of my AfriMates in real life.


Kudos also go out to Karola Riegler who took lots of photos throughout the day and to @RedZola & @MatthewNcube who both helped me trying to get online as the University’s WiFi didn’t work out for me.

So instead of providing you with a summary of all talks (I also presented some slides on AfriGadget and couldn’t do any liveblogging), let me just forward you to the following blogs that already did an excellent job of blogging on the event:

There may be even more interesting posts on AfricaGathering. It also helps to do a Twitter and/or Flickr search on #africagathering to catch some additional links (Twitter Search is a gold mine for anyone interested in ppl and their opinions).

Ed also filmed the event and promised to upload some talks to Vimeo this coming week – so let’s stay tuned for an update. Filming such an event is really sustainable and helps those who couldn’t make it to London in time. Teddy of was also supposed to attend the panel discussion, but stupid visa regulations killed this endeavour.


Some attendees already met on Friday evening for great Ethiopian food at Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant – including David McQueen and Sokari Ekine. It was very nice to eventually say hello to Sokari, who I’d been spamming with links via for the past few months. Eh, Sokari – we will be back to London in June!

There have been so many inspiring conversations and shared ideas during this AfricaGathering that it would seem to be unfair to pick out a few selected ones -so I will only add a few words to my own presentation. I also need to work on my presentation style as I am bit too nervous on stage, often speaking too fast or having too many details on my mind that I want to include and then miss out. It was a great opportunity though to present our work and I am also quite passionate about it. Oh, and pls ignore that extra slide on a Liverpool flag as seen in a pub in Garissa the other day – unless of course you are like Ken of, whose pic on mobile pay phones we’ve used on one of the slides. :-)

My presentation on AfriGadget on behalf of the whole AfriGadget team (remember, it’s a group blog and everyone is invited to contribute and share interesting AfriGadgets – even you!) wasn’t primarily focused at displaying interesting or funny AfriGadgets even though I introduced it by saying that “we are not here to help anyone, we only do this for fun”.

My message between the lines rather was that there’s still so much undiscovered potential on the continent that needs to be commercialised (I hope I got this message across?). AfriGadget is just the vehicle to showcase that there are innovative solutions that work on a local level.

There’s a new generation of young & skilled workers who grew up with mobile phones & an understanding of how technology works. Skilled IT workers who can already take over programming jobs and develope their own tools.

Of course, IT isn’t the only sector and there are other sectors that will benefit from a new perspective on development in Africa. I, for one, believe that the upcoming sea cable(s) – which will help providing better broadband internet access to many African countries – will also help in providing some incentives for the younger generation to stay in rural areas. The internet has changed the way we live and work – I am also working as a consultant from my home office. Consequently, this progress in the IT sector could hopefully also influence other sectors.

Ecological sanitation concepts, for example, currently work best in rural areas. And with an increasing urbanisation, things are only getting worse. As long as we (humans) do not come up with sustainable cities and (much) more urban agriculture (as a way to provide real livelihood for everyone), there will be a need to “upgrade” rural areas and create markets in such areas. Better internet connectivity and the provision of sustainable power supplies is a way forward as it helps ppl to go about their business.

Business, or the consumer orientation, is my 2nd point on the AG presentation. I think that commercialism has for a long time been undererstimated in the African context. We need to return to free markets and an understanding that people knew how to trade goods (and make a living out of it!) a long time before outsiders occupied SubSaharan Africa and introduced new cultural values.


And by mentioning commerce, I am not talking about dealers in a small village who are ALL selling the same product (like the one pictured above where everyone sells rice), but instead a healthy trade of locally produced goods and services and much more diversity.

Someone from the audience asked if ppl would also be this inventive if they weren’t that poor and could afford to buy “better” products. It’s a tricky question because in reality it’s often not a question of being rich or poor, but rather the availability of affordable solutions. If you just can not buy enough welding machines that are required in the metal business and also won’t get a credit because you are not credit-worthy or because there’s no serious bank around, then you have to look for alternative solutions and make do with what is available. If the problem could be solved by being rich and just importing a welding machine from let’s say a Chinese manufacturer, the African economy wouldn’t benefit as much as when these machines are produced locally. As a consequence of that, ppl are instinctively doing the right thing by developing their own solutions and providing business opportunities for a local market. It’s a natural process that may not be that visible, or maybe even condemned by those who still believe that superior products have to come from the outside.

This btw also happened in Zimbabwe some time ago when local supply of sanitary towels was limited and women (not men) had to come up with their own solutions, e.g. using natural materials. Now, from a technical (process engineering) point of view, it’s much easier to treat natural (biodegradable) products than plastics – at least when it comes to the stuff ppl are flushing down their toilets. So these alternative sanitary towels may not be as convenient as those from the supermarket, but they are available and affordable. By the end of the day, products that work for customers will prevail. Everything else is just luxury and filed under “nice-to-have”.

Alasdair Munn also put it nicely on his blog:

“Technology solutions coming out of Africa are built with purpose, against objectives and within the boundaries of their resources. It is a solutions based approach. It is also a stripped down approach where only the relevant resources and tools are used. Simple works because less can go wrong and if it does go wrong, simple is easier to fix. There is a shift in the way tools and technologies are looked at.”

I believe that there’s no master plan for development in Africa, and even less a need for a well-meant guideline from the outside. There’s no one-way solution and this AfricaGathering certainly wasn’t meant to look for solutions “on how to help” etc. etc.. People in need know how to help themselves as most governments on this planet only exist to set a legal framework. We, the people, have to bring the change we want and so it was a valuable opportunity to team up with other like-minded folks during AfricaGathering who have understood that less help and more business may be an interesting alternative for a better way forward.

AOB: I spent less than 48h in London and met enough people to whom I was introduced as “Kikuyumoja”. It still amazes me that ppl know about this blog.

Africa Gathering

“Have you blogged about it?”, he asked. – “Yes, I microblogged it.”

Fellow blogger CG just reminded me to mention the upcoming Africa Gathering on Saturday, 25th April 2009 (@ Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London, WC1 7HX, United Kingdom) which I had only briefly mentioned on the Afritwit Twitter account the other day.

“…a day for thinkers, supporters, sponsors, doers, geeks, dreamers – and everybody else to come and share, promote, highlight, progress and evolve issues related to ICT, social networking and technology in Africa.” (src)

I btw consider this gathering a follow-up to the other two AfricaCamps which took place in Vienna, Austria and MountainView, Goolge HQ, USA some time ago.


I secured my ticket for this fine event three weeks ago, but am yet to organize transport to & accomodation in London for the weekend 24-26th April. Flights from Frankfurt-Hahn via Ryanair seem to be quite affordable, but the rest is still open end – also because there are like a hundred other urgent tasks for me right now so that I am just doing it the hakuna shida / mungu akipenda way which means less planning (the German in me) and more believing in that everything will just work out fine.

The list of proposed talks is already quite impressive, so it will be particularly interesting to connect with other likeminded Afriactivists.

On a personal agenda, I am also still looking for a way to combine my three topics – sanitation, Africa and ICT – into a worthwile business because I am sure there’s a way to connect all of these three.

Oh, and if I get an opportunity to present some slides on AfriGadget, I will try to speak slowly, loud and clear :-)

liveblogging from AfrikaCamp in Vienna, Austria


Fellow blogger Mzeecedric and I are today attending AfrikaCamp which just started a few minutes ago.
Please stay tuned for more as I will try to update this post throughout the day (see updates below). Oh and btw, there’s no ustream from the event (no videos). Sorry!

First of all: Africa = continent = many different countries, cultures, etc. (just to be clear on that).

AfrikaCamp is some sort of follow-up to the BarCampAfrica , which recently took place @ Mountain View/Google HQ in the US.

It’s my first ever vísit to Vienna btw and I am already quite surprised how great this city is!

10:00 am:
We arrived at W@lz, the location for the AfrikaCamp.

The whole of Austria is covered in snow.

11:00 am:
Sessions planning started, Cedric and I will be talking about and some blogs we’ve created for dev aid sector / German NGOs.

There’s free WiFi. Yaay!


Free chocolate provided by FairTrade. Nice!

Christoph Chorherr giving an introduction to the different session to some of the ~ 40-50 attendants.

BarCamp-styled sessions.

11:30 am:
Attending the first session by Helge Fahrnberger of about and OpenStreetMap project they are doing on Ouaggadougou.
Helge is one of the organisers of the AfrikaCamp.

Helge Fahrnberger talking about and OpenSourceMap.

12:00 am
Christoph Chorherr talking about two schooling projects in SouthAfrica: “social sustainable architecture” and “Ithuba Skills College“. Interesting quote from a school headmaster in SA: “We provide schooling but no education”.

[pic to follow asap]

They are also using dry toilets as the sanitation system. GREAT!

12:47 am
Yours truly presenting Erik’s slides on AfriagadgetP1010348
Mwalimu JKE :-)

Had to recharge my netbook after 6hrs in use. Lovely little live-blogging device (despite of its tiny keyboard).

01:20 pm
Having lunch with a guy called Kavindra who works in Vienna as a consultant at a Indo-European Developemnt Agency. Nice vegetarian stew followed by free drinks – thanks to the organisers of this fine event!

02:00 pm
Attending a session on by Martin Konzett, Karola Riegler, Florian Sturm and Anders Bolin

Audience clearly dominated by MacBooks. Hmm… ;-)

Martin and Anders showing a preview of their upcoming documentary on mobile phone uses in East Africa. Martin says there’s a 90% penetration of Nokia phones in Africa. Very promising documentary btw which will be released soon. Martin and Florian shot it with a Nikon D90 with different lenses

Says this guy is a famous athlete who’s constantly on the phone.

A pouch / CD sleeve made of a Kanga as alternative cover for the upcoming DVD.

Martin also talks about empowerement and mobile financing. Someone from Togo in the audience mentions that we need to have a better infrastructure in many African countries. Debatte started about technology and how it is used in many places.

03:00 pm
Attending a session by Andrea Zefferer & Andrea Ben Lassoued who are presenting their projects @ and

Clean-IT is a project that focusses on an improvement of working conditions among IT-manufacturers (in China) by setting some social standards on the demand side…

P1010374 focusses on finding sponsors who are willing to support disabled kids.

03:30 pm
coffee break

04:00 pm
Giving a short video interview to Martin Konzett and Anders Bolin, both of ICT4D. Talked about AfriGadget and that we’re are currently looking for a French speaking editor who could cover parts of the francophone Africa on AG. I hate being in front of a camera, my first ever interview/pitch. Camera goes on (fisheye lens) and you’ll have to talk about your agenda for 4 minutes.


But I wasn’t the only one – seen here: Florian Sturm, Anders Bolin and Martin Konzett playing the same game with Andrea Zefferer.

04:30 pm
AfrikaCamp continues, two or three more sessions – but without us. We had to leave a bit earlier for downtown Vienna. Met an old friend of mine with whom I’d been schooling back in the days in Nbo and whom I hadn’t seen in ages.

Soo….AfrikaCamp imho was a great success, met many interesting people who are doing interesting projects, having the right visions on what works in the African context and what doesnt (NGOs tend to be more realistic then the bigger donor orgs). guys are quite ambitioned, doing a good job on a tight budget. Make sure to check out their awesome documentary once it’s released on DVD (see comment below)

Else: Vienna is a GREAT city, will def. be back for more. Even my new netbook proved to be portable enough and was a great live-blogging device.

Kudos to Helge, Christoph and Karola who organised this BarCamp + Africa event!

Cheers from Vienna :-)

Florian of ICT4D also compiled a very interesting summary of the sessions I couldn’t attend. It’s a pitty that you can’t follow all sessions at once as everyone has interesting ideas to present.

A list of all sessions + list of interviews are also available.