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BarCamp Africa UK – London, 07 Nov. 2009 November 7, 2009

Posted by peterjmurray in unconference.
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Peter is at BarCamp Africa UK which is being hosted at Vodafone’s Paddington offices in London today.

Information on the event is at various sources, including http://barcampafrica-uk.wikispaces.com and http://africamp.com/uk (which latter is using a Livestream video feed on the site)

I will be blogging intermittently today, as well as tweeting (search hashtag #bcafricauk09 on Twitter).

Based in the premise that technology will be the way to develop Africa; aims to be action-oriented, user-driven, interactive event. The opening “keynote” is from Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), who gave introductory remarks.

One of sponsors is http://www.betavine.net (part of Vodafone) which aims to develop social and sustainable applications of mobile technology to bring about change.

I am attending one of the parallel sessions, which is on ‘Blogging from Africa’ – Miquel Hudin from maneno.org (incorporated in USA as an NGO) is leading it. They aim to try and deal with low bandwidth, multi-lingual issues etc that impact bloggers in Africa. Estimates are that less than 1% of world’s bloggers are from Africa. Finding internet access an be a problem; often have to use slow satellite connections. About 40 bloggers (out of a population of 23 million) in Ghana, for example, says Miquel. The maneno.org platform is available in nine languages (inc. Swahili and Zulu) – people can customise their own blogs on the site, which can be a help to newcomers to blogging and the internet. The site also runs a hib for African barcamp events. Miquel notes that a barcamp is also running today in Cameroon – http://www.maneno.org/eng/articles/country/cameroon/ Q – how many Africans want to blog in the language they speak? – won’t they reach more people by blogging in English?

Stephen Wolak, from Vodafone, is doing one of the first parallel sessions in the afternoon, on ‘Betavine Social Exchange – pilot in South Africa’ – which is about bringing together people dealing with social issues and technology people, including applications developers. betavine.mobi is an area for downloading applications. http://www.vodafonebetavine.net/bvportal/community/linux is for getting software to make 3G mobiles work on Linux. Mobile technologies are being used increasingly for social change. http://crowdtalk.wordpress.com/ is a blog related to this initiative.

Conrad Taylor doing a session on “Publishing technology and fonts for Africa” (>>>). I couldn’t go to Cornelia’s session on OLPC project, but you can find plenty of tweets about it; see also http://codex2project.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/