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March 01, 2005

Intriguing Use of Technology

I'm often skeptical of claims that high tech is a great boon to developing nations in Africa. The problem of initial cost of deployment is often handled by a donor nation, but the upkeep and survivability of the technology is another question entirely. That is, if there is no one locally that can handle maintenance and updates, precisely how useful is a bank of computers when they suffer from some malady?

That's why I generally think that books are better than computers, if you take my meaning. But the geek in me can't help but enjoy seeing technology being used in innovative ways--and given that Kenya remains one of the healthier nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, the issues of maintenance and equipment survival become less pressing.

At the Mbita Point primary school in western Kenya students click away at a handheld computer with a stylus.

They are doing exercises in their school textbooks which have been digitised.

It is a pilot project run by EduVision, which is looking at ways to use low cost computer systems to get up-to-date information to students who are currently stuck with ancient textbooks.

Matthew Herren from EduVision told the BBC programme Go Digital how the non-governmental organisation uses a combination of satellite radio and handheld computers called E-slates.

"The E-slates connect via a wireless connection to a base station in the school. This in turn is connected to a satellite radio receiver. The data is transmitted alongside audio signals."

I hope that this pilot program works out; innovative and appropriate use of technology always excites me.

Read the story.

HT Slashdot.

Posted by zombyboy at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2005

Voting is Just So Stylish These Days

Here's hoping that this signals a permanent shift from the bloody recent past in Burundi.

The people of Burundi have been voting on whether to accept a new constitution designed to share power and end war between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis.

Long lines of voters formed from dawn to take part in Burundi's first ballot since civil war broke out in 1993 between the two communities.

Voters used a white card to vote Yes and a black one for No.

Correspondents say the constitution is likely to be approved but the real challenge will come after elections.

The BBC's Rob Walker in the Burundi capital, Bujumbura, says the new government will need to achieve a delicate ethnic balancing act if it is to avoid a return to violence.

It's a tough transition to make from a warring nation to a sustainable, constitutional government, especially in nations where tribal loyalty still stands as far more important than any nationalist sentiment. But after nearly a third of a million dead, the change has long been due.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)
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